I) LIBERTY IN CHRIST -
Even though scriptures note (as pointed out in prior sections) that the Sabbath or the law is not necessarily in force for New Testament believers, it does give them the "option" to participate in it (or a least "parts" of it) if they so wished (Rom 14:6,23). In fact, it is in the opinion of the Author that we should still keep a Sabbath, but on any day we have the option, and only in a "rest" capacity (the worship part was covered in previous sections.)
Medical studies have shown that we will burn ourselves out if we don't have at least one rest day a week (not surprising considering God made us.) So there is no argument about normally keeping some "type" of weekly Sabbath rest.
Throughout the New Testament scriptures there's no direct condemnation, command, or put down of the 7th day Sabbath, in the sense not to keep it (or visa versa.)
In fact, Paul states that there were some (Rom 14:5) who esteemed or kept "another" day (whether meaning Saturday or Sunday), and that fellow brethren should not judge (Col 2:16), berate, or tear down the "weaker brother" (Rom 14:1,2).
Noting, that if you were to judge other brethren regarding these minor issues (e.g. - such as proclaiming that they have a "mark" of Satan) then you'd receive a harsher judgment in the future (Rom 14:10-13). That they, and all Christians, are to have the liberty to do all good things (Gal 5:1,13/1Cor 6:12,10:23) that they and/or the Lord would set on their hearts to do (on any day), because it is love that constrains us (not a "law") - 1Cor 13:13.
Paul strongly noted to those Law keepers (mostly converted Pharisees) not to rely on the law (vs. Christ), otherwise they would fall back under the dictates of the law (Rom 10:5, 2:13/Lev 18:5) and be judged by it (Rom 2:12) verses by grace (Act 15:11/Rom 3:24).
James noted a similar tone to Law keepers who would "think" that they were more holy or righteous by keeping one or two laws (Jam 2:10); that if they broke even one point of the law then they were guilty of breaking it ALL. This is solidified by the Old Testament where it notes that "cursed" is anyone who doesn't keep the WHOLE law (Deut 27:26), and that curse was death (Ezek 18:4/Rom 6:23).
The curse was only lifted by Christ death on the cross, and where the book of Hebrews central message is - if a person chooses to keep the law (ceremonial or otherwise) then the sufficiency and blood sacrifice of Christ is useless (Heb 10:29).
Paul asserts (Gal 2:19,21) that the keeping of the law and grace is a vain and impossible task (also Gal 4:9-11). It might be comparable to (using the stage illustration earlier) having Jesus and the law do some type of awkward dance together on a stage that was only built for one main player.
A question then might be posed, "who on the stage is more prominent and deserving of glory?" The answer would obviously be Jesus, since he is the creator and law giver (Eph 3:9/John 1:3).
Even though we do have the liberty of keeping the old law, it should be mentioned that there are other dire consequences of trying to keep the law and grace, in tandem (or together - Gal 3:2,5), which will be covered in the next section.
J) THE RESULT OF KEEPING THE LAW TODAY -
One of the main messages of Paul (especially in Romans, Galatians, and Corinthians) is that we Christians are a new thing, and mystery (Col 1:26,27/Eph 5:32) of God. He also points out (again) that those who choose to keep the dictates of the law have that liberty, but there is a consequence to that decision and path.
The consequence being that this person will be blinded by most (if not all) spiritual matters - 2Cor 3:14,15. This spiritual blindness (some speculate) is the result of God blinding the Jews (Rom 11:7-10/Mat 13:14,15) because of their rejection of Jesus - The Messiah.
Whatever the reason, Paul states that this "veil" of blindness will be present until Jesus returns and/or the church is taken out of the world (called the "fullness" of the Gentiles - Rom 11:25.) Paul also notes this (Rom 9:32), referring to the law as a "stumbling block" to grace and faith.
Paul uses an analogy of Moses (2Cor 3:6-18) in order to illustrate the blindness that Jews and believers will obtain, noting that the law and the keeping of it, places a spiritual blindness on them (vs. 13 - 15 [14 and 15 being key]), stating;
"unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were hardened. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart." (NKJV)
These scriptures note that there is a "veil" or covering over the eyes, ears and hearts of persons who read and attempt to keep the Old Testament (the law.) That this veil is only taken away for those who FULLY place their trust in Christ. This thought is reiterated in vs. 16, noting, "Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
The next verse speaks of who the Lord is, (vs. 17), "Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." (NKJV)
The Holy Spirit (who was given by the Son and Father) is the Lord who takes away this veil so that there is "liberty" (The same thought given in the prior "liberty" section.) The next chapter of 2nd Corinthians (vs. 3, 4) points out that God allows part of this veil to be initiated by Satan (Who is very good at getting you caught up on "rules" verses "love.")
The law blinded the Jew of Jesus day, as can be seen by their rejection of him. The keeping of the law made them stubborn and handicap to the point that they could not see the Messiah (and his miracles and works) right in front of them. All they were concerned with was Jesus supposed breaking of the law. THE LAW WAS MORE IMPORTANT THAN JESUS - might it be any different today? I've visited many Sabbatarian churches who diligently practice and memorize the "fourth commandment," much more than I ever heard "Oh, how I love Jesus."
It seems as though the law is "worshipped", and I would not be at all surprised if I ever hear it get to a point where stone tablets of the law are placed up near the front, near the Pastors podium. I also wouldn't be surprised if I ever heard that theses tablets were "kissed" by everyone before each church service. The Jews do this today in their services, so this wouldn't be to far fetched to see it in Law keeping churches in the future.
But that is what happens when you place the law ahead of the law maker. Jesus noted a scripture from Isaiah (Isa 6:9/Matt 13:14,15) which says, "And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; 'for the heart of this people has grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their heart and turn, so that I should heal them.'"(NKJV)
Scripture is consistent throughout, noting from the very beginning to the present, that man is "naturally" hard-head, stubborn, and rebellious. As with the Pharaoh of Egypt in Moses day, God has indicated He will harden (or confirm) your heart were you stand. If you so choose to be stubborn, He says, "O.K., you can stay stubborn and blind in your sin!"
But "if" a person is humble and submissive to His truth and way then He will heal them. The healing and new way which the Father gave was in His Son - Jesus. If you so choose to fully follow His truth then that truth will set you free (Joh 8:32). If not, then you'll be a blind Pharisee (John 9:38-41) who is in a delusional state, of "thinking" that you are on the right path of righteousness. The reason why I use the word "fully" is because that is the example God is looking for. Remember, it was the whole congregation who keep the law in the wilderness, but it was ONLY Joshua and Caleb who "fully" followed the Lord (in believing Him.)
In the end, the choice is there for any Christian to choose - follow the law and be blind (as the Jews are, even up to this day), or, follow Christ fully and benefit in his love and Spirit which are far greater than the law. This will be touched on in detail the next section.
Blind Man Illustration >>>>>>>>
K) IS THERE SOMETHING "GREATER" or "BETTER" THAN THE LAW? -
Is it possible that something could be more better, greater , or perfect than the law of God? Is it actually feasible that something could surpass or be higher than Gods own written Word? The implication would be if there was something greater then we should follow and/or be more concerned with that "greater" thing. It would be similar to being in the military, taking orders from a Sergeant verses taking orders from a General - who's the higher and greater?
Many Law keepers would have a very hard time with this concept, but that's only if they don't understand the complete picture. They usually "blur" the distinction between the law and God, looking at both as being similar. Sort of like having a General on earth (the law) and a General in heaven (God). The question might then be posed to you personally; such as, if you were to send a letter to an individual or loved one, then would that letter or piece of paper be more important than you (your physical person.) Taking a closer look at this there might be two (2) issues concerning that question:
1) Would your letter be more important than you who wrote it.
2) Since you wrote the letter, would you have authority to alter (or improve) its content.
These thought's have already be posed in the "Kissing the Shadow" and "Paradigm Shift" sections. The obvious logical answer to these issues would be a resounding "no" to the first, and a "yes" for the second. Where a person (the substance) can obviously be seen as being more important than the letter (the shadow).
The total answer would be that Jesus indeed is a "more important" factor over the law. One that was given by God as a "improvement" over the law, because he could do something that the law can't (again, save us).
Another part to this would be that of the Holy Spirit (which Jesus and the Father gave), who would also fall into this category of the "better". Where the Holy Spirit also being greater than the law, and also bestowing something that the law cannot give, that is, gifts and wisdom, indwelling and sanctifying, etc. And the "maker" would obviously have the authority to alter the "made" (see section C to review the "altered" argument.)
The law is "incomplete" and inferior as compared to Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It is most certainly holy as compared to us. But this is like comparing an adult, as compared to a child, as compared to an ant (or insect.) The law would be the child, and the adult - God. As compared with God we would definitely relate and/or fall into the area of an ant. The reason why this concept is so significant is because we (in the New covenant) HAVE A CHOICE which we have to pick from. That choice is one of either the old or new; that is, the "old" of the law, or the "new" of Jesus, grace, faith and the Spirit.
Law keepers may believe these concepts (of the Spirit and Jesus being greater, or the "choice" that we have) as being "un-scriptural", but the apostle Paul describes this process in detail. Where he states a clear distinction and variation between the things of God, by describing the different "glory" of the two. He uses very strong language, such as;
"our sufficiency is from God who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?"(NKJV)
In these scriptures, Paul is clearly making a distinction between the "letter" of the law, and the Spirit; the ministry of condemnation (the law - vs. 9) and the ministry of righteousness (the Holy Spirit, in Christ) which (he notes) exceeds much more in glory (vs. 9). (NKJV)
Meaning, that the glory of the infinite Spirit of God is much more relevant than the limited and temporal glory (which was a "testimony" to the people) that Moses got when he had received the law on Mount Sinai (Exo 34:29-33), as his face "glowed." Looking at it in another way, the Old Testament (the law) has its glory, and the New Testament (Jesus and The Spirit) has its own glory - it's obvious which is the greater.
Paul uses this same line of reasoning in Romans (7:1-10), where he talks about the "oldness" of the law and "newness" of the Spirit (vs. 6). He also uses a vivid illustration of marriage to show that we are free from the law (vs. 3,4) in the sense that we are no longer "bound" by it (like the Jews) because of the death of Jesus (the husband.)
The writer of Hebrews (Heb 9:15-17) continues in this rationale by noting that the death of the testator (i.e. - Jesus) initiates a New covenant which does something that the Old covenant could not - bring redemption (vs. 15).
Paul repeats this similar thought in Galatians (Gal 4:21-31) by "challenging" those who would "desire" to be under the law to take note what's involved with keeping the law (i.e. - bondage [also 4:9]). That is, he uses a symbolic illustration (vs. 24) of the "bondwoman" (Hagar - vs. 24,25) which is reminiscent of the law and Mount Sinai. This is verses the "freewoman" (Sarah) which is a symbol of the promise of God (Christ), the Spirit, and freedom.
So what does Paul say at the conclusion?, "Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not (emphasized) children of the bondwoman but of the free" (NKJV) (vs. 30, 31). You should read the story of Abraham's sons (Ishmael and Isaac - Gen 16 and 21) if you don't fully understand, or you want to comprehend the whole concepts in Gal 4:21-31.
Lastly, Paul points out (Rom 2:17-29) that if a person wants to boast in keeping the law then they'd better be 100% perfect in keeping it, otherwise you "blaspheme" (vs. 24) God, and make your faith of no effect (vs. 26), and worst of all, you will be (again) judged by that law (vs. 12) - not grace (Rom 11:6), because the law brings WRATH (Rom 4:15) and DEATH (Rom 7:5).
Question - If you really logically think about it, and were given a test to pick between -
Wrath and Death -vs- Faith, Grace and the Spirit
Is the decision really that hard to choose from?!?
Private saluting two Generals (Law and God) Illustration >>>>>>>>
L) WHAT DID JESUS MEAN BY "KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS?" -
It was already noted that Jesus summarized or "broke down" the prior commandments into two (2) simpler parts (i.e. - loving God and your neighbor.) But there may still be some question as to scriptures (Matt 5:19, etc.) where the Lord specifically commands his followers to keep the commandments.
It should first be noted (John 14:15,21;15:10,12) that he said that we should keep "HIS" [My] commandments (called "New" in John 13:34 - "New" being not the same as the Old), and never makes specific reference to the whole ten (10) commandments (coming close in Matt 19:18,19.) He specifically states (Joh 15:10) "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Fathers commandments and abide in His love." A keen observer would ask the question, "why would Jesus make a distinction between his ("my") commandments, and his Fathers commandments? It seems as though there is a duality here. There is no doubt that Jesus perfectly keep the commandments and will of God (John 5:30), but what is Jesus talking about in these scriptures? If Jesus wanted to stress a direct correlation with the two then why didn't he state "my Father and my" commandments?
The key point on this issue would primarily rest on what commandments or "law" was Jesus referring to. Most would assume it was specifically the ten (10) commandments, sometimes called the Decalogue. But let us take a closer look (Mat 22:36) at what Jesus considered, "the GREAT commandment in the law" (again, giving him a prime opportunity to emphasize the Decalogue.)
Jesus notes (vs. 38-40),
"'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind'. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
Some might say that Jesus was "summarizing" the Decalogue, but what is interesting at this point is that Jesus DID NOT quote any portion verbatim from the Decalogue; what he did quote was from two (2) main Old Testament scriptures (Deut 6:5, 10:12 and Lev 19:18). So to say that Jesus was just "summing up" or paraphrasing the Decalogue is to ignore the direct and obvious fact that he SPECIFICALLY referenced those verses - (look them up yourself!)
Jesus noted on "THESE" (vs. 40) two commandments (which are in Deut 6:5, 10:12 and Lev 19:18) hang all the law (again, which are not specifically from the Decalogue), so one cannot precisely make a link to the Decalogue other than "hearsay" or doctrinal bias. Those scriptures were part of the OVERALL law call the Pentateuch, "torah", or the first five books of the Bible, given by Moses - from Genesis to Deuteronomy, with over 300 rules, commands and precepts.
This also explains why the Jews continually pursued the Gentiles in the New Testament to be circumcised (Acts 15:1,5/Gal 5:2), because it was part of the "law" or torah (Exo 12:44,48/Lev 12:3/etc.)
If you take into consideration that "the law" spoken of throughout by the New Testament writers is of the whole torah, then you can see the vastness of the problem that Paul (and the other apostles) had to deal with when it came to the legalist Jews (Acts 15:1-29), who attempted to make the Gentles follow "the law."
In that council (vs. 23-29) the apostles voted unanimously to NOT have the Gentiles under the law (not even "mentioning" any part of the Decalogue specifically [or verbatim]) - (And here again, they [like Jesus] would have had an excellent opportunity to mention the Sabbath, if it was so much a "priority" - but they did not.)
When you look at "the law" in the context of the whole torah then you'd have to decide if you would or could indeed keep the whole law (remember - James 2:10).
A good example of this would be with the Sabbath regulations of the Old Testament. At that time if you were to see a fellow Israelite breaking the Sabbath, then you would have to report that person (Num 15:32-36), and he would have to be stoned to death (vs. 36). I don't see this "reporting" and "stoning" going on today!
Some Law keeper's might then state, "that part of law is no longer relevant, and that it now falls under grace and love." They also attempt to squirm their way out of this argument by claiming that everything other than the Decalogue is under "ceremonial law", which was done away with (Col 2:14). But if you read that scripture closely you'll see that the death command was given DIRECTLY from God (vs. 36/Exo 31:14,15), and then you'll have to answer the argument for yourself - "does God really change?" God may "improve" on but He NEVER changes (Heb 13:8/Mal 3:6). Then again, if you can accept the fact that God CAN indeed improve, then you can most certainly accept the premise that Jesus (through grace and faith) can be that improvement. The only alternative is to go purchase a gun or carry stones so that you can begin, from this day on, implementing Num 15:36 and Exo 31:14,15.
Those scriptures note that "Whomever" (vs. 15) profanes His Sabbath, with no special note or exemption for the New Testament, should be immediately put to death. The New Testament did not change Gods edict of death. If you were to ask Paul then he would confirm this by noting (Rom 6:23), "The wages of sin is death." If you required an actual illustration of this then you can clearly view the example of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10) to see whether the death sentence is still valid in the New Testament.
Why then does God not continually do this type of thing, where He instantly punishes sin? I cannot adequately answer that question other than to say that He does not change - He still HATES sin (Pro 6:16, 8:13) and will punish it any way (and time) He chooses. So God has not changed the death sentence - it is still active. But Jesus came for us to take that death sentence when he died for us (Heb 2:9) - but only if you opt to receive grace 100%.
The key summary of this whole issue is - a person CANNOT take the law "piece-meal", and cut it up, "picking and choosing" as they wish (or as their "doctrinal" bias and thinking would dictate).
You could only take it (ALL the law [torah]) or leave it (ALL the law). A good example of this would be how some Sabbath organizations are inclined to validate vegetarianism, by noting that Adam and Eve (man) were vegetarians in the beginning, so we should practice this also. But they blatantly seem to ignore Gods commands and covenants to Noah and Moses which clearly record the permission for man to eat meats.
Also, it is a fact that even though the first man were indeed vegetarians in the garden, they also lived up to many hundred's of years old (which we do not have today) - if we should be "as in the beginning" (with food), then should not God also bless us with a few hundred years of life? I mean, that is the implication of "healthy" eating (i.e. - longer life), isn't it? Surly, if God wanted to stress the importance for man to be vegetarian then He could have immediately created vegetation for Noah.
Well, one might say, "Daniel was a vegetarian"(Dan 1:11-16) and Prophetess White said we should practice it also. All I can say to that is from our Lord (Jesus - John 21:9-14/Luke 24:41-43) and our example (John 13:15/1Pet 2:21) who felt inclined to eat meat without any inhibition or hesitation, and if He is God then I think He would know best!
The main point I would want to confer from this whole issue is that it seems as though Sabbath organizations are very agreeable and accepting in the fact that "some" aspects of the law (i.e. - Decalogue) are relevant, but not so accepting in the clear "clean" and "unclean" meats precepts. Precepts which were lovingly given to the children of an Almighty, omnipotent God who knows all things (good or evil).
So the question would be, if vegetarianism is so "perfect", then was God wrong in giving the command to eat clean meats? - (Lev 11:7) In other words, if vegetarianism is so pure, healthy, and superior (and meats so "bad, unhealthy, damaging, and life-threatening"), then did God intentionally give permission to eat meats, and thereby "poisoning" His people in the process - doing evil to them (God forbid!) Do today's "health" Doctor's know more than God? - (Acts 5:29)
If Gods word is true, and He only gives "good" gifts (Jam 1:17/Psa 84:11), then He would only love (Deut 23:5/Luke 11:11) them enough to want THE BEST for them (as you would for your own child).
Paul even states and reiterates this point when he says (1Tim 4:1-5) that we should not forbid any and ALL foods or "meats" (vs. 4) that have been blessed by God (with a similar thought given with Peter's sheet from heaven experience - Acts 10:9-17.) Hebrews even notes a much stronger message (Heb 13:9) when it mentions we should be established by spiritual things such as "grace" not with strange doctrines that emphasize foods, and/or what we should eat.
Lastly, even Jesus noted we should be more concerned with what comes out the body or heart (Matt 7:18-23), and not what we eat. But Jesus also noted that wisdom is justified by her children (Matt 11:19), so it is not surprising that Law keepers will waste their time on these vain issues and fleshly displays. That is, considering that they're acting in the same mind-set as the Law keepers of Jesus day. Scriptures note that the reward for these displays will just be an act of satisfying your own ego (Matt 6:1,2,5,16). This is because the Old covenant commands to do all of these outward displays and rituals. The New covenant is "spiritual", and inward.
So what do we say then, "are Old covenants 'voided' by the New?"
M) COVENANTS - ARE OLD ONES VOIDED BY THE NEW? -
Covenants, in this section, are basically agreements between God and man. These agreements are primarily initiated by God towards man as a means for men/women to have communion and/or communications with God.
Many find it hard to believe that we (as believers) can actually have a new covenant that is different from the old. They may think that the new covenant has actually voided out the old. It goes back, again, to the issue of God changing. If God changed then He is not perfect.
Understandably, this is a perplexing issue which could confuse, but only "if" a person doesn't comprehend or look at the clear facts:
1) The first being, that God can indeed send a "new" covenant, and one that can alter the old. An example of this is with the Noahic covenant. In that covenant God altered a few things that He had had from the old (and first) Adamic/Edenic covenant. Blood would be required for bloodshed (i.e. - capital punishment - vs. 5), eating of meats (vs. 3), and a promise not to destroy the earth again with water (vs. 15).
And we know and can see where the Noahic alters the Adamic when it comes to foods. Adam was allowed to eat of the "fruit" of the garden, and Noah was allowed to begin to eat of meat/flesh matter.
Now we all know that the Noahic covenant is still in effect by the fact that we can still see the rainbow (vs. 13) in the sky when it rains.
So if we review all the covenant's of the Bible then we have the Adamic/Edenic covenant, the Noahic covenant, the Abrahamic covenant, the Mosaic covenant, the Palestinian covenant, the Davidic covenant, and the New covenant.
2) When studying the covenant's you'll find that some were conditional (breakable), unconditional, and some both partially conditional and unconditional (I call these "hybrid" covenants.)
The Adamic covenant was somewhat conditional, the Abrahamic covenant primarily unconditional, and the Mosaic and Davidic covenant's mainly "hybrids." You'll also observe that some covenant's either overlapped and/or are still active. A primary proof of this can (again) be seen in the Noahic covenant, where to this day you see a rainbow.
This is a verification or witness that God will not lie, but keeps His promises, and especially this one, not to destroy the earth again with water. This is the same in many other of the covenant's, where God may not necessarily "change" but He will improve on the content of the next covenant.
3) Gods newer covenant's are almost always an improvement over the old.
God always seems to have that uncanny ability to keep His word but not change it in the same sense that we consider "change" (e.g. - going from one thing to another because of error.)
You can see this over and over again, where man sins (Adam) but He offers a redemption (Jesus); where He curses David's line (in Jeconiah/Johoiachin - Jer 22:30) but still keeps His promise through another (Luke 3:31) to bring the Messiah - and time and again this is done. Even in the Noahic promise, God guaranteed not to destroy again with water, but you'll find that He will do it (judgment) in the end with fire (1 Pet 3:7,10).
This would naturally lead into the next question and section -
N) WHY WOULD GOD ALTER HIS COVENANTS? -
The reasons why God would alter His covenants are due to two (2) primary factors:
1) Man breaking the covenant, and their inability to keep it.
2) God introducing improvements from the latter covenant to the new, according to His
perfect plan (as noted in prior sections.)
From the very beginning and creation of man, God has had a desire to commune and to fellowship with man. And from that same time, man has expressed his desire to go on his own paths, direction, and way.
Because of the continual disobedience of man (Gen 3/Heb 8:8,9, etc.) to keeping Gods covenants, He has had to initiate new covenants in order to give man (or those who choose to keep His word) a chance to have communion with Him. This is more true with conditional covenants, and less true with unconditional/conditional covenants (Hybrids.)
If you'll remember from the last section, God made these "hybrid" covenants that had an area based on mans part, but was also based upon Gods un-merited promise, that He would keep regardless of what man did. A good example of this would be with the Davidic covenant, where God promised David that He would keep his sons as rulers upon the throne if (i.e. - the condition) they followed Gods word (1 Kin 2:4).
God also promised David that He would bring the Messiah through his line (2 Sam 7:12-16). As we know from scriptures, most of Davids' sons, from Solomon on, did not keep His words so that God finally allowed the nation of Judah to be taken into captivity (2Chron 36:13-21). But as we also know, God did keep His promise (i.e. - the unconditional) of bringing the Messiah through Davids' line (Matt 1:1), that is in Jesus Christ.
The scriptures would seem to indicate that the M.O. (Modus Operandi) of God is that He'll usually make a covenant conditional to show man his sinful fallen nature, and that he (man) has no hope to keeping Gods perfect word (other than by direct assistance from God.)
Similarly, God would usually make the covenants unconditional when man could neither have no chance to logically keeping it (because of time or supernatural power constrains), or, God chose to receive all the glory - which is His right as creator God (Isa 42:8,48:11).
These two points are exactly the situation when it comes to the combined scenario of the Mosaic covenant, and with the New covenant which God promised in the latter day (Jer 31:31/Heb 8:8-13 [key vs. 13]). The New would have to alter the Old, otherwise it wouldn't be "New." It is plain to see throughout the Old Testament that from the time God gave "the law" (i.e. - the Mosaic covenant) to the Jews, that they COULD NOT keep it (Acts 15:10/John 7:19).
The question for us Gentiles is, "are we any different, or some super humans who can keep the law any better [or more zealously - Rom 10:2/Gal 1:14] than they?"- (it's useless!) Time and time again, God would have to send prophets and judgments to the children of Israel in order to bring them back to Him (Jer 7:13/2Chron 36:15).
This is verified in the New Testament were God, through the Holy Spirit, asserts that man can NEVER keep the holy word of God in his own efforts and strength (2Cor 10:3-6, 12:9-10/1Cor 2:10-14). This is why God promised a "New" covenant (Jer 31:31), where He noted that He'd take matters into His own hands and actually write His law ONTO the hearts of men (Heb 8:10), so there would be a constant reminder of Gods word "in" man. And no need for an "outward display" as in the old.
God also promised a "helper" (John 14:26/Joel 2:28-32) whom He would pour out upon believers, that would "enable" them to keep His word in their weak flesh (Rom 8:26). Where you, by yourself, are nothing (Joh 15:5), but can do all things through Christ and the Spirit, which is of grace (Phil 4:13).
And lastly, that a person would have to (again) be perfect in order to keep a perfect law (Heb 10:1), and we all know that there was ONLY one man (Rev 5:5) who would qualify for this feat, otherwise we would be belittling Gods son. In other words, there is NOT, nor will there ever be a "sinless perfection" (while we are in this body), or any other situation or scenario that will top what Jesus did.
What is the alternative then?, It would have to be an entirely new covenant initiated (mostly unconditional) where man might be saved and not rely on his own righteousness or works. It would have to be a covenant that would be a major improvement over the old, so that God would give something which man could NEVER hope to obtain on his own.
That covenant would be much "better" (Heb 7:22), giving His Son - and His Son would give and display grace, faith, and the Spirit.
O) THE NEW COVENANT OF GRACE, FAITH, AND THE SPIRIT -
The New Testament is "peppered" throughout with the concept and proclamation of the New covenant that God said He would make with His people. Jesus would make special note of it at his last supper with the disciples. Where he would note in all the synoptic gospels (Matt 26:28/Mar 14:24/Luk 22:20) that his very blood would be the proof and ratification of the this new covenant. The book of Hebrews would have many things to say about this New covenant, calling it a better covenant - Heb 7:22,8:6,7.
It would verify and clarify Jesus' words, that his death would bring a totality of a efficacious (once for all) redemption. It would be a concept totally different from the Old, in that the Old required a flawed (as compared with the new) continual sacrifice system that could only cover (kofar) not cleanse (katharizo - 1Joh 1:7, 9). Part of this concept was a mystery in the Old Testament, and was only fully revealed by the apostles (more so with Paul.)
That mystery was the church of Christ (Eph 1:9, 5:32), and was not limited to sex, race, position, or any other partiality that may have been limited to (and displayed with) Israel in the past (Exo 19:5). This church would be entirely different from the context of the Old Testament covenants in many ways.
Some of these ways are:
1) It would be verified and "sealed" by the death/blood of a testator (Jesus.)
2) God would pour out His Spirit and indwell them as a testimony of their acceptance.
3) God would enlist a new covenant, in which He would write on the very hearts of His
followers (i.e. - being "inward" and not outward as with the old.)
4) This church would be "grafted" (i.e. - not the same) into the olive tree (Rom 11:17-23)
5) Our primary duty would be walking by faith (2Cor 5:7) and the Spirit.
This all adds up to an entirely different environment, and a new situation where we have a "law" of faith and the Spirit (in Christ, by his blood.)
Again, It is not so much that this is a "new" law in that it completely replaces or annuls the old law, or is contrary to the old law, but that it's an IMPROVEMENT over and above the old. This thought being reiterated over and over in Hebrews (Heb 7:5-28 [especially 7:12/8:13/10:9]).
A good example of this is in the additions (or "improvements") that were added over the old law: that is, the Holy Spirit, grace, faith, and (most importantly) - Jesus. The individual Jew of the Old Testament had none of this.
The Holy Spirit and all these other concepts might have been present in the Old Testament, but not to the wide or "comprehensive" (poured out - Joel 2:28-32) extent.
Meaning, God did extended His grace, respected faithful acts, and placed His Holy Spirit on "certain" individuals, but not to the VAST extent as it was with the church believers at Pentecost, and up to today (e.g. - so it IS different than it was in the old, and therefore cannot be compared with the old.) This is exactly what is understood in-depth when we consider what Jesus was saying about placing the old wine skins (i.e. - the Old Testament, and/or the Law) onto the new (i.e. - the New Testament) - it CANNOT be done!
These concepts of faith, grace and the Holy Spirit are strongly stressed by Paul when he asserts (Rom 3:27) "Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith."
Paul exhorts that we should not "boast" in the old law (but faith) - but you have many churches in the Sabbath denominations that routinely boast every Saturday in their congregations about the law (specifically about the 4th), reiterating verbally that part of the law, over and over, much like a skipping broken record. And illustrating an abnormal process where one part of the law is exulted over the others (as in the deformed chain illustration given earlier.) In this weekly process, they also excruciatingly and meticulously accentuate how "superior" and holy they are to all others who don't keep their day.
In the earlier sections it was noted that the ONLY way to be "justified" before God was in Christ. Paul goes further on this point when he asserts (Rom 3:28), "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law." The key word there is "apart" - where we are only justified apart from (not "with") the deeds or works of the law.
This is not to say that the law is completely done away with, as Paul points out in vs. 31, but again, the old law has another purpose (as also noted in prior sections.)
Paul then uses Abraham, the Father of the promise (Rom 4:13, 14), where Abraham did NOT receive the promise through the law, but by faith. And we to, since we have received the promises (through the Messiah), also receive blessings by faith (not the law) - those promises of Abraham being made VOID (vs. 14) if pursued by the old law.
Lastly, there is the argument that we should keep the law because God commands it. There are also many who would keep the law so that they could be "righteous". The only problem with this being, God commands that we believe (John 6:28) and be like His son - this is the FIRST works (Rev 2:4), then that we love Him and others (1Cor 13:13) - In fact, a person cannot even love God until they receive His son (1Joh 16, 19 & 8). Some may have a question of just what is that "work" that is spoken about in John 6:28. That work is simply the work that Christ did for us.
There are many works that Jesus did, but the greatest work was that of the cross. If we believe in him then we can partake of his work that he did for us. And surly it would be a fact that Christ work would be better than any work anyone of us could do (John 5:17), unless a person might think that they would like to be crucified. The more important question would then be, would God accept your sacrifice (like Jesus).
This is, of course a facetious example, but it was primarily made to point out the seriousness of this issue, and to clearly illustrate that there is NO WORK that is great enough or will top (or even come close to) what Christ accomplished. Some might not want to "top" what Jesus did, but just try to do the best that they can (God would respect that, wouldn't He?)
Would God even accept an accumulation of all your works that you've done over the years? That would only be if that "accumulation" would be enough to measure up totally 100% to His standard - perfection.
You might then say, "Well, I'll do my works of the law anyway, just because I feel like it, or I want to please God.", or for some other similar reason. But think back again with the mountain illustration earlier. If Jesus already climbed the mountain, then what use is it (to God) that you attempt to climb it? In other words, if you can't top what Jesus did then it's all for naught on His measuring stick. I mean, that is the purpose of our existence, isn't it?, to please God? Scriptures point out (John 6:28) that there is ONLY one way to please God, and Jesus was it - period. We are only saved by the new law of grace, by faith in Jesus Christ (apart from and of the works of the law.)
Some might then say, "OK, I'm saved by grace, but I still have to do works to "stay" saved, please God, and/or to be righteous." This begins to get into an issue of Calvinism and Armenianism which is not within the scope of this report. We also have already touched on the only measure in which God is pleased - Jesus. As far as any righteousness that we have, scriptures (Phil 3:9) confirm that we are righteous ONLY in Christ, and APART from the law. All this adds up to a realm of thinking and logic that clearly points to something different from the Old Testament system and structure which we know of as "the law" (ceremonial, decalogue or otherwise.)
So different that it cannot be logically feasible nor can they be compared or placed side by side. And the problem that we have may probably be because we're limited in our understanding of grace and the law, and how they interrelate and/or differ. Let's explore those aspects of the law-vs-grace.
Heart(new law) and Stone (old law) Illustration >>>>>>>>
P) GRACE - VS - THE LAW -
Grace is such an awesome concept and notion that the word by itself is insignificant to describe its potency or effect, and even trying to define its full meaning and scope is difficult. As we may know, grace is usually described as God's un-merited favor that we don't deserve (which is associated with, but precedes mercy.)
It's a free expression of love, by the giving of gifts (Salvation, eternal life, communion, etc. - by and through the Son), bestowed for reasons known only by the benefactor (giver), and usually unbeknown to the recipient (receiver).
Grace works hand-in-hand with faith - faith being the channel; grace being the source (Rom 3:24). The Bible uses the Greek word, "charis" for grace, denoting divine favor. One noted writer said that grace, "is something that God gives, that we don't deserve, for what we should deserve."
In the New Covenant with man, God has extended His grace liberally to mankind (2Tim 1:9/Rom 3:24/Joh 3:16), being much like a free gift on open display in public, ready to be taken [by faith] if anyone so chooses (much like "free samples" are given.)
Many will say that it is Jesus and not grace that God gave first (1Joh 4:14), but if it wasn't for grace God WOULD NOT have given Jesus in the first place, and it was Jesus who further brought that grace to us. If you don't think so then consider Noah, who found grace in Gods eyes (Gen 6:8), and only THEN was he saved from the flood. In other words, it was only "after" God had extended grace to Noah, seeing that he was blameless (vs. 9), that He then had extended His salvation.
Under the New covenant, God initially gave man grace by revealing His son, He loving us so much that He freely gave His only begotten son. Grace was also further displayed by Jesus himself, by his example, life, and death (sacrifice). This concept is solidified in the New by scripture which note (1Cor 1:4) - I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you 'by' Christ Jesus (the word "by" emphasized.)
In the end, it is similar to the chicken and egg argument - it really isn't worth arguing over. And that's the way that it is with the law -vs- grace debate.
It should not be necessary to "pit" the law against grace (or visa versa), but because of the inadequacies of man, of his limited knowledge to understand the concept of grace there has been confusion; hence, and a need for a further explanation. Peter and Paul noted that this would be the case in the last days (2Pet 3:16,17) where a number of people would be more simple minded, and swayed more easily because their "weaker" minds (Rom 14:1). But that has always been the case with most cults. They usually have a misunderstanding of scriptures because they take one or two scriptures (not the whole counsel of God), and slant their own opinion and bias to it (Jude 1:17-19/2Pet 2:1-3/Eph 4:14). It is unfortunate that many gullible and weak in the faith also fall into their trap (again - 2Pet 3:16,17).
So in order for there to be a clear understanding (for the weaker), there is a need to sometimes "compare" or contrast the things of God. A case-n-point is with the grace/law issue. One (the law) is awesome because it is the word of God. But another (grace, faith and the Spirit) are even more awesome because it/they do a much more comprehensive and pertinent job than the first. The law condemns us to death, and grace saves us from that death.
Both CANNOT be intermingled, just as you cannot have a judge to legally give you a life sentence then set you free the next day (its illogical), but that is basically what God did with us, changing the impossible into the possible (Matt 19:26) - but ONLY if we choose to receive it.
We can choose to either accept or not accept grace (the default being the law [and death]), very similar to the choice that Adam and Eve were given in the garden. Then there is the choice that the Israelite's in Egypt were given at Passover. You'll recall that the Jews had a CHOICE to choose, between either having the blood on their doors or not. If they did not have the blood on the doors then they too (or first born) would die like the Egyptians.
If they DID have the blood on the door then they would be saved. Law keeper's have that same choice today, where they can choose to have grace and the blood of Christ cover them (the New Covenant), or they can choose to have the Old law protect them - and die (the Old covenant - [review section J ])
So by this example grace can be seen in the Old Testament, or in individual displays, but certainly not on the level or scale that it is seen in the New Testament, where grace is given in a comprehensive way, as a free gift to all who believe by faith.
Does that mean that God "changed?" No!, that is not what it means - what it does mean is that God has given something that He did not copiously give in the old covenant. He gave a perfect "loophole" for the perfect enigma. He displayed and presented something that He DID NOT liberally in the former.
As I noted throughout this report, that "new" thing was Jesus Christ. Why would God do such a thing?, that answer cannot be fully explained other than His perfect timing and plan (the Messiah had to come at a certain "time".) But one other good explanation is in the fact of God proving to man that he is helpless without His direct assistance.
Just as a drowning swimmer has to acknowledge to the lifeguard that he requires aid by screaming "help!" We too (if we're smart) acknowledge that we need the "grace" of a savior to be rescued. Should we instead scream for the lifeguard to give us a very heavy stone at the same time that we ask for a life preserver? That is EXACTLY what a Law keeper is saying when they're keeping the law and also asking for grace!
In the end, it is indeed a CHOICE that every true Christian must choose. It is not so much grace "VS" the law, as it is more accurately, grace OR the law (as pertains to salvation.) There is really no "gray area" or "mix-n-matching" of these two spiritual terms - EVER.
Either choose the law, and be judged by it - the reward being death, Or, choose grace, and be judged by it - the reward being free gifts, justification, forgiveness, reconciliation, and entry into paradise.
What a hard decision!
Q) IS "SUNDAY" THE MARK OF THE BEAST? -
In the preface of this report the premise was given about two primary views in the Protestant segment of the church. It was mentioned that subdivided within the Protestant's are those who believe more in a "grace" bias, and another segment who believe in a "law" bias. In other words, there are those who believe that grace is the all determining factor in salvation and sanctification (solo grace), and the others who believe that you must keep the law (called "Law keepers" and "Sabbatarian's" in this report.)
These Law keepers may believe that grace is an "element" in salvation, but that you should also surly keep the law to either stay saved, and/or to be holy before God. Grace people would say, "By grace we are saved, not of works"(Eph 2:8,9), and Law keepers would say, "If you love me you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15).
As we covered, the issue of the very existence of the law was also in dispute. Grace people would say that the law was done away with, or "nailed" to the cross (Col 2:14). Law keepers would partially agree with that premise, with the "ceremonial law" being abolished, but they (strangely) will say that the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) are still relevant.
I note that this is strange because there is no clear scripture reference that is given to confirm their claim (i.e. - of a "partial" elimination), nor is there evidence that grace somehow only applies to the death sentence of the law. They would also imply that there is a big difference between the "law of God" and the "law of Moses." As was pointed out in the early sections, Nehemiah 8:1 and 8:8 destroys this argument, and even the present day Jews don't recognize a difference (the torah is the torah.) Most will accept that the Word of God is and was inspired by the Holy Spirit (solo scriptoria), but not all will accept that All is holy (only the Decalogue, being more holy than the rest - "the law of God.") The best way I can describe this state is where the Law keeper will concentrate on the Decalogue like a laser beam. Because of this one fact, many Law keeper's have acquired (as seen by this report) a thinking that the old law is still primarily relevant and in full force (they even still keep many dietary and "minor" precepts of the law.) I won't go into the ramifications of "why" this is so, other than the fact that they believe it (the law) is so.
If there were not so many New Testament scriptures to contradict the law position then they would have a strong argument as to keeping the law. But, as this report has shown, there is no true basis for Gentiles keeping the law (ceremonial or otherwise.) True and honest seekers of the facts, who have (or will) studied the scripture references (with an open heart) will see the overwhelming evidence of that fact (see section S). But scripture also records that there are certain individuals who will be blinded (see section J). So it is not too surprising to have a rejection of the facts.
What is most disturbing for Sunday keepers, and one that CANNOT be ignored, avoided or minimized is the fact that Sabbatarian's will be sternly insistent on law keeping. They usually treat Sunday keepers as a believer would treat a unbelieving heathen. In the case of a believer evangelizing and witnessing to a heathen, they'll note that the heathen needs to be saved or be judged and damned.
The Law keeper will similarly note that the Sunday keeper had better switch to Sabbath keeping, or be damned. With that in mind, these can be viewed as not only "general" words of genuine warning or admonition, but one of adverse condemnation. Having a position that is so "radical" as to say that your very salvation is on the line. What will save most Sunday keepers is the fact of their "ignorance" might possibly waive them from Gods wrath.
In other words, Law keepers will deduce that since you've never heard the truth then God will (or might) feasibly excuse you. But once you have heard "the truth" then you are obligated to accept it or be damned. And for those who have left the organization, they are "heretics" damned to hell (strangely similar to what most cults say.)
The "truth" is, of course, being the keeping of the law (or Decalogue); more specifically, keeping the Sabbath (Saturday) over the Lords day (Sunday) observance. I won't argue over this point of whether the "Lords" day is Sunday or Saturday. The previous sections clearly established that "time" is not (or should not be) a factor. And that those who concentrate on such an argument (Saturday or Sunday keeper) are thinking in the fleshly worldly realm.
As mentioned before, Sabbatarian's supposed strongest argument is the fact that the changing of the Sabbath from the 7th day to the 1st was only traditional (Daniel 7:25). This being done by the entire Roman Catholic church in the Counsel of Laodicia in 364AD, and reaffirmed in 1563AD by the Counsel of Trent. Where the Catholic church is "The Beast" of Revelations (Rev 7:8-13) because they're the one on the seven hills, and the Papacy also supposedly having a numerical value which adds up to 666. There was even a supposed Prophetess in one of these organization's who presumably had a heavenly vision and word from God Himself, stating the fact that the Catholic church is the Beast. Writings from her books, primarily "Cosmic Conflict" and "The Great Controversy", which note this claim in detail.
The overall premise being since change was done by this "beast" (as they interpret it) then this (keeping of Sunday) is tantamount as having "his (the beast) mark." I noted that if this is true then it would surly mean a certain damnation for anyone who observed Sundays. Scriptures are Crystal clear on this "mark" issue, so it is extremely important that we understand its implications. You should CLEARLY understand what Sabbatarian's are saying. Where if you have this mark (666 or whatever), you WILL be damned in the lake of fire.
For many years, the evangelical Protestant church community has either ignored these Law keeping and Sabbatarian organizations, or they have "basically" accepted the fact that they are mostly orthodox (because they accept the deity of Christ, the Trinity, and other basic doctrines.) What should not be acceptable is the fact that these organization actively teach a blatantly aberrant and demonic doctrine (1Tim 4:1-7), and are just as legalistic as the group that they claim is a Beast.
They also actively recruit, and intensely try to convert others in the body of Christ (Sunday keepers) to their doctrine and into their fold. Logic would dictate that this should not be construed as an fellow loving brother or ally, but as an enemy. As was noted by Jesus when he warned about the "wolf" (Joh 10:12) in sheep's clothing who is bent on breaking down the body. As Paul states (1Cor 1:10-13, 12:15-27), should this thing be?!? Of course not! So what many evangelicals are basically quietly conveying is that it's O.K. to watch out for the big wolves (the Jehovah Witness, Mormons, etc.), but not bother with the "little" wolf (Sabbatarian's and Law keepers)
Most will readily acknowledge that the church "fell asleep" in the 60's to the point where abortionist and atheist basically gained control of major government and educational institutions,... and even our society. I hope this report will raise the red flag. Where these Law keeping organizations are very dangerous, possibly to the point that there be a reconsideration of their status as "orthodox." My research has revealed that their "cultic" and aberrant tendencies are far too toxic to be passed on or overlooked.
Many in the Protestant community might consider the grace -vs- the law issue as being non-essential, minor, and not worthy of debate. But what you should most certainly recognize is the fact that these people are not comrades, and where a lie is a lie (Pro 8:13/Zech 8:17) which we should hate. Law keepers most certainly have an aversion towards Sunday keepers. And when someone is questioning and assaulting your personal salvation then this should be like a glass of cold water in your face (i.e. - waking you up - making you diligent to fight back- 2Tim 2:15)
In the past, these Law keeping organizations may have been more "evangelistic" (as a whole) at that time, but I can guarantee that the most recent facts show that they (as a majority) have returned to their aberrant roots. By the fact that they have no question or quandary of affirming your eternity (in the lake of fire). If Law keeper's are true Christians then they would be more interested in edifying the rest of the body, NOT tearing it apart.
Sabbatarian's should also realize that most of their doctrine is indeed wrong, and a lie from Satan. Law keepers proclaim that a day is a "mark" for Sunday keepers, but scriptures disclose that it is Law keepers who will have a mark of their own. That mark will be their LIE (Rev 21:8) on judgment day. They will say "Lord, Lord", I did such and such in your name (Matt 7:21-23), but Christ will most certainly say - I NEVER knew you. Jesus will confess that they "knew" the law, but not Him.
This is not a personal attack, but sadly, the truth. It hurts me, personally, very deeply because I still have family members in this movement. I, like Paul, would earnestly desire that they all repent and turn to the truth of grace and the gospel (Rom 10:1, 2), which frees from the bondage of law. I can say like Paul (vs. 2) "For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge."
Sabbatarian's and Law keepers, much like the ones in Jesus and Paul's day, having great zeal and works towards God - but will that matter? Will God honor the "works" of the law on judgment day? We will further investigate these issues in the rest of this report.
Illustration of a hand with 666 on it (at the bottom saying "Sunday = 666?")
Friendly Computer Services, and is copyrighted © 2001
If any errors, contact the WebMaster at email@example.com