The Curse of the Law

The Curse of the Law

By Brian Jones

“‘Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law…’ (Gal. 3:13).

Not many generations ago the majority of the Christian world believed in the sanctity and perpetuity of God’s moral law. Among those who held this view (e.g. Matthew Henry, John Wesley, Adam Clarke, C.H. Spurgeon, Chas. Finney, Albert Barnes, D.L. Moody, etc.), virtually none remotely supposed that Christians are saved by their obedience to the law, but that obedience is the fruit of spiritual conversion. They clearly recognized that we are saved by grace through faith, and that no of ourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works lest any man should boast (Ephesians. 2:8-9).

But contemporary theology, being affected by the skepticism and relativism that has permeated Western philosophy since the mid-nineteenth century, has called into question the authority of God’s moral law, branding it as legalistic, harshly restrictive, dispensational (ergo, dispensable), and applicable primarily to the Jews until Christ’s death on the cross. This position, known as anti-nomianism, has led many to impose an interpretation on certain Bible texts, especially those in Paul’s letters (2 Peter 3:15-16), that is wholly…”

(this article is an excerpt from the June 1989 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 9, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/media/tss_386June1989.PDF

Sabbath Meditation #21 – The Morality of the Sabbath

Sabbath Meditation #21 – The Morality of the Sabbath

by Kelly McDonald, Jr.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God” (Exodus 20:8-9).

When we think about the Sabbath, many people will say, “Well, God doesn’t care which day we rest on. One day in seven is all that matters.” Let’s seriously consider this line of reasoning with two of the other Ten Commandments.

Does God care whose property you have in your possession? (Your own or someone else’s?)

Does God care whose spouse you take home with you? (Your own or someone else’s?)

Again, most Christians would agree that God does care whose property you have in your possession. They will agree that it matters whose spouse you take home with you. For some reason, many will make an exception to the Sabbath. The Ten Commandments are absolute.

Just as God cares that we only possess our own property and that we stay faithful to our own spouse, He cares what day we rest upon. Since He saved us, we are called to be like Him (Leviticus 19:1-2).

The seventh day is called Sabbath of the Lord our God. It isn’t our day. He gives us six other days to do our work. The seventh day is sanctified unto Him.

Just as there is only one Lord God, there is only one day that God set apart for the Sabbath (Friday sunset to Saturday sunset). If we do not obey the Bible on this subject, then we have broken it. The morality of this commandment is set in stone in the same way as the other nine.

Consider the absolute nature of the Sabbath commandment, especially throughout the Bible. You will find that just as God and Christ never change, so it never changes. Truly, Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath – today, yesterday, and forever (Mark 2:27-28, Heb. 13:8).

Selah.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

The 2nd Century Rise of Anti-Sabbatarians (Part 2 of 2)

The 2nd Century Rise of Anti-Sabbatarians (Part 2 of 2)

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

Last week, we looked at the Anti-Sabbath teachings that began to crop up in the second century. Many of them had anti-Semitic rhetoric attached to them. Another anti-Sabbath belief that started in the second century is the view that every day is holy or every day is common and no holy days exist anymore.

The first hint of this viewpoint is from Justin the Martyr, who we discussed in the first part of this series. In his work Dialogue with Trypho, Trypho observed that Justin observed no day as the Sabbath, no festivals, and no commandments.

Justin: Is there any other matter, my friends, in which we are blamed, than this, that we live not after the law, and are not circumcised in the flesh as your forefathers were, and do not observe sabbaths as you do? Are our lives and customs also slandered among you?….

Trypho: …But this is what we are most at a loss about: that you, professing to be pious, and supposing yourselves better than others, are not in any particular separated from them, and do not alter your mode of living from the nations, in that you observe no festivals or Sabbaths…you yet expect to obtain some good thing from God, while you do not obey His commandments….” (idem, chapter 10).

In this dialogue, Justin admitted that he did not keep the Sabbath. However, his statement cannot be universal to all Christians of that time, as he admitted previously that there were Gentile Christians still honoring the Sabbath. Other primary sources agree that Christians kept the Sabbath (as we will review later). Justin probably referenced the majority of Christians in Rome.

Among the greatest proponents of the view that Sabbaths no longer exist were those educated at the School of Theology in Alexandria, Egypt. The two most popular teachers from this school were Clement of Alexandria and Origen.

Clement of Alexandria – 180s AD

Clement of Alexandria was a self-avowed Gnostic. In the second part of our three part series on heresy, we reviewed the beliefs of Gnosticism (click here to read that article). Gnosticism became very popular among Christians during this time.

Clement said: “Hosea 14:9 says the prophet, showing that the Gnostic alone is able to understand and explain the things spoken by the spirit obscurely…” (Stromata, 6:15). He and others like him added their beliefs into the Bible to justify their viewpoints.

Clement is the first writer to indisputably use the phrase “Lord’s Day” to refer to the first day of the week. His justification is derived from Plato and the number eight.

“And the Lord’s day Plato prophetically speaks of in the tenth book of the Republic, in these words: And when seven days have passed to each of them in the meadow, on the eighth they are to set out and arrive in four days. By the meadow is to be understood the fixed sphere, as being a mild and genial spot, and the locality of the pious; and by the seven days each motion of the seven planets, and the whole practical art which speeds to the end of rest. But after the wandering orbs the journey leads to heaven, that is, to the eighth motion and day….” (Stromata, Chapter 5, 14).

It is hard to imagine how a pagan philosopher like Plato could be used as a source used to justify Christian practice. Why might Clement do such a thing? In this time period, the Old Testament was being devalued as the sole background source for the New Testament. As this development occurred, these Gnostic writers had to find some other source that they could claim as a derivative of Christian practice. For some writers such as Clement, philosophy filled the gap.

The theology of Clement was sometimes confusing and not always consistent. Among his other questionable statements, he said that philosophy was given to lead the Greeks towards righteousness (ibid, 1:5). He also stated that the sun was created as an object of worship (ibid, 6:14, 7:7). In another place, he claimed that the true Gnostic does not honor specific days. We have an excerpt from him below:

“Now we are commanded to reverence and to honour the same one, being persuaded that He is Word, Saviour, and Leader, and by Him, the Father, not on special days, as some others, but doing this continually in our whole life, and in every way…Whence not in a specified place, or selected temple, or at certain festivals and on appointed days, but during his whole life, the Gnostic in every place, even if he be alone by himself, and wherever he has any of those who have exercised the like faith, honours God, that is, acknowledges his gratitude for the knowledge of the way to live” (Stromata, 7, 7).

One of the students that followed Clement, Origen, would continue this kind of reasoning and popularize it even more. He lived from 185-253 AD. We have an excerpt from him below:

“If it be objected to us on this subject that we ourselves are accustomed to observe certain days, as for example the Lord’s day, the Preparation, the Passover, or Pentecost, I have to answer, that to the perfect Christian, who is ever in his thoughts, words, and deeds serving his natural Lord, God the Word, all his days are the Lord’s, and he is always keeping the Lord’s day. He also who is unceasingly preparing himself for the true life, and abstaining from the pleasures of this life which lead astray so many — who is not indulging the lust of the flesh, but keeping under his body, and bringing it into subjection,— such a one is always keeping Preparation-day” (Origien, Against Celsus, 8:22)

Origen allegorized away any day with special significance and ranked them all the same. He thus contradicted the example of Christ and the early Apostles, who clearly made the distinction between days that were holy and those that were not. They clearly all kept the Sabbath (see Mark 2:27-28, Acts 13:13-48 for two examples).

Conclusion

In the second century, virulent anti-Semitic and anti-Sabbath teachers arose within the Christian community. While they still called themselves Christian, they abandoned many key principles taught by the early Apostles.

The two cities where these teachers had the most influence: Rome and Alexandria. According to the Church Historian Sozomen (approx. 400 AD), these were the first two cities to stop keeping the Sabbath. They were the only cities not known to have a Sabbatarian population in the fifth century. Here is an excerpt from his work on Church History.

“For although almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the Sabbath of every weekyet the Christians of Alexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this. The Egyptians in the neighborhood of Alexandria, and the inhabitants of Thebais, hold their religious assemblies on the Sabbath, but do not participate of the mysteries in the manner usual among Christians in general: for after having eaten and satisfied themselves with food of all kinds, in the evening making their offerings…” (idem, bk 5, ch 22)

Pay close attention to the words of this historian. He recorded that Rome and Alexandria were the two cities that ceased to honor the Sabbath; this means at one time they did it! He also noted that they did not stop honoring the Sabbath because of any scripture, but because of a tradition. Jesus warned us about the traditions of man that contradict the commandments of God (Matthew 15:1-20).

Today, people use similar arguments to Marcion, Justin, Clement or Origen in some attempt to explain away the Sabbath. They think that they have received or developed some great revelation concerning this subject, when in fact they have not. They are continuing arguments and lines of reasoning which began not with the first Apostles, but with second century teachers.

Despite the false teachings about the Sabbath, there were still those who stood tall for the seventh day of our Lord. In a previous blog, we looked at Theophius of Antioch who defended God’s commandments and the Sabbath (CLICK HERE to read that blog).

Next month we will look at the anti-Sabbath attitude that was prevalent in Roman culture during the first two centuries AD.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

The 2nd Century Rise of Anti-Sabbatarians (Part 1 of 2)

The 2nd Century Rise of Anti-Sabbatarians (Part 1 of 2)

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

In Mach 2020 we did a three-part series discussing the rise of heresy in the second century (Click here to read Part 1). We looked at some of the events leading to this development, some of the common beliefs among heretics, and even specific teachers. Another result of this tumultuous time period was a strong strain of anti-Sabbath teaching.

One of the heretical teachers we reviewed was named Marcion. He began his teachings in the 140s AD in the city of Rome and flourished under the Roman Bishop Anicetus. Irenaeus wrote more about him:

“…he advanced the most daring blasphemy against Him who is proclaimed as God by the law and the prophets, declaring Him to be the author of evils, to take delight in war, to be infirm of purpose, and even to be contrary to Himself” (Irenaeus, Against All Heresies, Book 1, Chapter 27, Verses 1-2; emphasis mine).

He considered the God of the Old Testament to be a separate God from that of the New Testament. Moreover, he taught that the God of the Old Testament was the author of evil and contrary to Himself. Even his followers were called Christians.

“And there is Marcion, a man of Pontus, who is even at this day alive, and teaching his disciples to believe in some other god greater than the Creator….All who take their opinions from these men, are, as we before said, called Christians…”  (Justin the Martyr, First Apology, Chapter 36, emphasis mine).

He sought to separate the Law of God from the Gospel message about salvation through Christ. Tertullian, writing about 200 AD, shared more about this heretic’s views on this subject matter.

“Marcion’s special and principal work is the separation of the law and the gospel” (Against Marcion, 1:19). His works “…aim at committing the gospel to a variance with the law, in order that from the diversity of the two documents which contain them, they may contend for a diversity of gods also” (ibid). Marcion is “…the author of the beach of peace between the gospel and the law…this peace remained unhurt and unshaken from Christ’s appearance to the time of Marcion’s audacious doctrine…” (ibid).

Tertullian explained that before Marcion, the law and the gospel were taught in harmony with each other. This statement agrees with other contemporaries of the time period, such as Hegesippus (see Fragments of Hegesippus, which we quoted in the first part of the series on heresy). Marcion especially hated the Sabbath.  Consider the following quote attributed to him:

“Since that day is the rest of the God of the Jews, who made the world and rested the seventh day, we therefore fast on that day, that we may not do anything in compliance with the God of the Jews” (Epiphinaus, Haers., Sec. 42, from Bingham, 1139).

He viewed another God as having created all matter. This also led him to reject the Sabbath since it is ultimately tied to Creation as God’s day of rest (Gen. 2:1-3). He desired to denigrate the Sabbath by labeling it as a ‘Jewish’ institution. He rejected all messianic prophesies of the Old Testament. He viewed Christ to be connected to a previously unknown God.

“Marcion has laid down the position, that Christ who in the days of Tiberius was, by a previously unknown god, revealed for the salvation of all nations, is a different being from Him who was ordained by God the Creator for the restoration of the Jewish state, and who is yet to come” (Tertullian, Against Marcion, Book IV, Chapter 6).

Unfortunately, some of his teachings have persisted to the present. Many modern Christians think that the God of the Old Testament is a separate from that of the New Testament. They also label the Sabbath as ‘Jewish’ though the Scriptures never make that assertion.

Justin the Martyr – 161 AD

About this time, another man named Justin the Martyr also vigorously argued against the Sabbath. While declaring himself an opponent of Marcion, he agreed with him in some areas. He influenced the Bishops of Rome during the same time period.

About 160 AD, Justin the Martyr recorded a back and forth dialogue about Christianity between himself and a Jewish man named Trypho. One of the questions they addressed was whether Christians who obeyed the commandments of God could be saved. In this, Justin acknowledged that there were Christians who indeed followed the commandments.

“But if some, through weak-mindedness, wish to observe such institutions as were given by Moses, from which they expect some virtue, but which we believe were appointed by reason of the hardness of the people’s hearts, along with their hope in this Christ, and [wish to perform] the eternal and natural acts of righteousness and piety, yet choose to live with the Christians and the faithful, as I said before, not inducing them either to be circumcised like themselves, or to keep the Sabbath, or to observe any other such ceremonies, then I hold that we ought to join ourselves to such, and associate with them in all things as kinsmen and brethren… But if, Trypho, I continued, some of your race, who say they believe in this Christ, compel those Gentiles who believe in this Christ to live in all respects according to the law given by Moses, or choose not to associate so intimately with them, I in like manner do not approve of them. But I believe that even those, who have been persuaded by them to observe the legal dispensation along with their confession of God in Christ, shall probably be saved” (Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 47).

Justin stated that who believed in Jesus and still obeyed God’s commandments would “probably” be saved. At the same time, he was against them spreading their beliefs. Later in this dialogue, he falsely depicted the Sabbath as being given to the Israelites because of the hardness of their hearts. This is clearly not scriptural, as the Sabbath was revealed in Genesis.

“For we too would observe the fleshly circumcision, and the Sabbaths, and in short all the feasts, if we did not know for what reason they were enjoined you,–namely, on account of your transgressions and the hardness of your hearts” (ibid, chapter 18).

Moreover, he denied that the Sabbath had any connection to creation. He painted it as only a memorial of the Israelite redemption from Egypt (Apology, 19). He also believed the sun was an object of worship – at the very least in times past. “God formerly gave the sun as an object of worship…” (Diagloue with Trypho, CXXI). This is another very unscriptural point of view.

Other anti-Sabbatarian teachers would arise towards the end of the second century and continuing into the third. We will finish this two-part series next week.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

What is “Under the Law?”

What is “Under the Law?”

By Brad Scott

There is a universal battle cry for those who embrace Jesus Christ as Lord and yet at the same time deny His words. “We are no longer under the law, but under grace.” I meant what I just said. This has been the banner under which millions of Christians for hundreds of years have flown. Humankind, since the days of Adam, have turned away from the word of YHVH. It is a central part of our fallen nature. There are really three kinds of people in the world. Those who disobey the commands of YHVH because they do not acknowledge His existence, those who disobey Him and do it in His name, and those who claim His name and obey Him. Which one are you? When reading the Scriptures, it becomes quite evident that no matter what “dispensation” you are cruising through, disobedience is rampant, and so is chaos and moral decay. This is not only true today, but it seems to have reached it’s pinnacle. At least in the times of the Judges or the times of David, YHVH’s people realized that they had turned from His ways and repented now and then. Today, however, the modern church stills teaches that Yeshua’s death put an end to law. So we all stand by and watch as our society crumbles, having the peace of mind that it is not our fault. It is Satanism, the New World Order, the New Age Movement, the Catholics, the Democrats, liberalism, Bill and Hillary, Hollywood, Nintendo, Neo-Nazi’s, and Oprah Winfrey.

I hope and pray that this study will begin to open your eyes to the commonly accepted interpretation of being under the law. Like many of the Hebrew words we have defined, this phrase has a background and an Old Testament meaning that is imperative in understanding it’s New Testament use. This will take a few lessons to get through, but I believe it is very important. Yeshua’, Sha’ul, and all the writers of the New Testament would have used the concept of law in the framework of it’s previously established use. This word, or for that matter, the idea of being under the law, was not created in a vacuum. However, the use or misuse of this idea was so misunderstood by “Jew and Gentile” alike, that Sha’ul spends an incredible amount of time to make it clearly understood. Why so much attention to this word? Well, it is because one cannot draw the two usual conclusions to this matter. There seems to be a very fine line between obedience and what we call legalism. I hope to show that Sha’ul’s desire for “Jew and Gentile” was that they lived in YHVH’s glorious grace. He also stressed that YHVH’s people walked in obedience in their newly found life in Yeshua’, and that these two ideas were not in conflict. Considering the two opposing cultures, this was not an easy task. Drawing two such contrary views of life into one would take up a lot of writing space. I believe that the Messiah Yeshua‘ was the answer to that enmity created by the law between “Jew and Gentile”.

The phrase under the law is found ten times in the New Testament. If you are familiar with scriptural numerics, then you will quickly notice that the number ten usually speaks of law or judgement for disobeying (10 commandments, 10 plagues, the tithe, etc.). I intend to discuss these ten occurrences. First, however, we must take the time to define what we mean by the law. As I have said many times before, the New Testament writers would have used this word as it has always been understood and defined. Simply put, if law was evil or bad in the Tanakh then it would continue to be understood as evil or bad in the New Testament. If YHVH’s laws were understood as righteous and set apart (holy) in the Tanakh, then they would continue to be defined as righteous and set apart in the New Testament. I would pray that this would not only be in harmony with the very nature of YHVH, but is simple common sense. If YHVH is constantly changing the meaning of these words, then there is no solid rock on which we are to stand. Our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Ivrim (Hebrews) 13:8). Do you believe that only Yeshua‘ was the same? YHVH does not change (Male’akiy (Malachi) 3:6). There is no explanation of the phrase under the law because it was already understood!

Many times I find modern Christian teachers teaching backwards! The modern church approaches the Scriptures by beginning in the New Testament, forming an understanding of its teachings, and then going back to the Old Testament to understand it’s meaning. This denies the plain cultural meaning of the text and conforms the Scriptures to the ever changing ideology of the church rather than forming the church around the solid consistent rock of scripture. When you read the book of Acts, you see that, historically, the followers of Yeshua‘ did not simply accept whatever new teaching they heard. They could not have tested established revelation (Tanakh), which they knew to be true, by a new revelation which they did not know to be true. The three sections of the Tanakh were already accepted and established as YHVH’s set apart, everlasting word. YHVH had already commanded, and Yeshua‘ confirmed, that a new teaching or claim of Messiahship was to be tested against what YHVH had already revealed, not the other way around. Interpreting the Scriptures backwards produces a message that is backwards. They could not have justified New Testament teaching by quoting the New Testament!

The English word law is translated from the Greek word nomos. It is very important to see how this word evolved because the defining of words change our image and perception of the full meaning of a sentence when it is formed. The translation process from Greek to English has already changed the meaning of law. In Greek society, the concept of law still held a positive, honorable, and instructive substance. When we peruse the Tanakh, we see that the law was reverently esteemed, and was given many other titles to describe it’s place in the lives of YHVH’s people. We will discuss those titles later. As this word traveled the translation process, it took on a much heavier, negative connotation. As early as the 3rd century A.D. the so-called early church fathers had already begun to denigrate this word. Law was already being taught as a product of ‘the Jews’. An heretical character named Marcion taught that the entire Tanakh should be removed from the pulpits as well as many sections of the New Testament which put the law and ‘the Jews’ into a more positive light, such as the book of Luke and the book of Acts.

As the western culture progressed, the concept of law grew more and more negative. The whole scriptural concept of law and bondage was reversed. Law was taught as bondage, not sin. Certain cliches and phrases were adapted to express this bondage. What began in YHVH’s word as light, life, righteousness, the Way, the walk, truth, goodness, and holiness, soon became disdained, loathed, and despised. IT’S THE LAW! LAW AND ORDER! THAT’S AGAINST THE LAW! HE BROKE THE LAW! I FOUGHT THE LAW AND THE LAW WON! The law has become the enemy. Today, in many movies the handsome bank robber or jewel thief is actually applauded over the bumbling representatives of the law, the police. Iniquity is actually portrayed as good and the law as bad! Law is no longer seen as good and righteous but is seen as nothing but fear and punishment. This is because the scriptural concept of law has been so twisted and redefined that it is virtually unrecognizable. I have come to at least one undeniable conclusion for a long time now. A nation’s behavior is guided by it’s philosophy, and a nation’s philosophy is formed by it’s religious values. All cultures and peoples form their society, no matter how large or small, from their view of whatever they deem to be the ultimate Superior. In this great nation it is supposed to be the ‘God of the Bible’. But is it really? Next time we will begin with the creation of the very fabric of existence, Torah!

Shalom Alecheim!

This article was originally posted on Brad’s ministry page https://www.wildbranch.org/. It is an introduction to a four part series on the subject. We encourage you to go to His website and read more about this subject. His teaching archive is found here: https://www.wildbranch.org/teachings/lessons/

 

Why So Few Sabbatarians?

Why So Few Sabbatarians?

First edited edition by Kevin Butler

“Because we know God says: “The Seventh-day is the Sabbath of the Lord,” we keep it. However sabbath keeping is not the assurance of our success.

“Why so few Sabbatarians?” As a newcomer to Seventh Day Baptists, Rev. Madison Harry (see Pearls from the Past, page 12) asked this question in 1890. Harry went on to pose more questions and posit even more answers and theories. His article, “Why has not God blessed Sabbath-keeping Christians more?” appeared in The Sabbath Recorder on August 28, 1890. A revised version became a separate American Sabbath Tract Society booklet in 1894. The following is from his introduction: “Why has not God blessed Sabbath-keeping Christians more?”

This is both a perplexing and painful question to all who “delight in The law of God, after the inward man.” The meager success of Sabbatarians deters many from joining with us, though convinced of the scriptural foundation of our position, and not a few have abandoned our cause on that account. This is a sad and depressing fact. Why is it? Is it God’s will it should be so? How much of our little success is necessary or unavoidable, and how much is due to our inefficiency as an aggressive power and evangelizing agency? This is a practical question. If it is due to the first cause wholly, then we are blameless. If in any degree to the latter, then “sin lieth at the door.” We surely, if possible, should know how this matter stands. How much of our meager success is necessary and unavoidable?”

(this article is an excerpt from the August-September 1999 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 13, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/tss/478/tss_478.pdf

Sabbath Meditation #20 – The Day of Life and Wholeness

Sabbath Meditation #20 – The Day of Life and Wholeness

“Then he saith unto them, ‘Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath days, or to do evil? To save life, or to kill?’ But they remained silent.” (Mark 3:4)

“Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people” (Ex. 31:14).

“But if you are careful to obey me, declares the Lord, and bring no load through the gates of this city on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy by not doing any work on it, then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this city with their officials. They and their officials will come riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by the men of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, and this city will be inhabited forever” (Jer. 17:24-25).

An overview of the Sabbath in the Bible provides many fascinating revelations. One will also discover powerful themes, and among them is that the Sabbath is a God-given reminder of life.

In Exodus chapter 31, God said that those who broke the Sabbath (in the Old Covenant) were to be put to death. We do not stone people today, but the severity of this punishment shows us that He takes the subject very seriously.

Unfortunately, people tend to dwell on this punishment instead of the opportunity presented to us. If the severity for breaking this commandment was so strong then the obedience to it must have an opposite, positive affect on life. For an example of this, we will briefly review Jeremiah 17:19-27.

In this chapter, we learn that the house of Judah was openly breaking the Sabbath. God offered them two options. If they continued to transgress the Sabbath, then the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed. If they chose to obey Him, then the city would be spared and there would be prosperity many years into the future. This was an offer of life and blessing.

To put some context to this situation, one must understand that the nation of Judah was in outright rebellion to God. Earlier in the same book, we learn that they were worshiping other gods, bowing down to idols and committing other sins. Of all the commandments that they were transgressing, he chose the Sabbath as the gateway commandment to life.

One aspect of Christ’s first coming was to fulfill the law or show us its full intent (compare Isaiah 42:21 and Matthew 5:17-18). He described the Sabbath as a day of life and good works (Mark 3:4). In the same setting, the Pharisees plotted to kill Jesus (Mark 3:5-6). On the day of life, they wanted death. This shows that their minds were far removed from God’s mind. Despite this opposition, our Savior remained committed to life.

Jesus demonstrated this concept by purposefully praying for people to be healed on the Sabbath (in front of others). In Luke 6:10 Christ restored a man’s hand so that it was made whole. The Greek word translated as whole is hugies. It means soundness in body, restoration of health, or wholeness of health. If someone could be torn apart for breaking the Sabbath, then imagine the wholeness available to our bodies for its obedience.

As we meditate on these details, we can understand that our behavior, thoughts, and intentions on Sabbath reflect either life or death. The seventh day is an opportunity to seek life and to do good. Wholeness is available to us. It is not a day to destroy each other, tear each other down, or cause division. Our church gatherings should reflect life rather than the attitude of the Pharisees.

The Sabbath is set apart specifically and purposefully for life. It is also the day in which Christ rose from the dead into glorified life.

Selah.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President www.biblesabbath.org

Why Don’t Christians Stone People Today?

Why Don’t Christians Stone People Today?

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

A common question I receive is: Why don’t Christians stone people today?

This is a good question, especially as it relates to the Sabbath. In the Old Covenant, the penalty for breaking the Sabbath was death (Exodus 31:12-17). I have friends who told me that they couldn’t start keeping the Sabbath because they would have to be stoned anytime they broke it. This is poor logic for several reasons – one of which I will address.

Most Christians, regardless of their church background, will agree that adultery is still a sin and out of God’s will. The penalty for this transgression (as well as others like murder) was also death (Ex. 21, Num 35:6-34; Lev. chapters 18 and 20), yet the Old Covenant penalty has not prevented many Christians from avoiding these behaviors.

Now it looks like we have multiple reasons to resolve the issue of why Christians don’t stone people for Sabbath breaking, adultery, or anything else. The answer is as simple as understanding the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.

In the Old Covenant, the sacrifices of bulls and goats were made for the sins of the people. These sacrifices were insufficient to cleanse the conscience of the worshiper or to erase the memory of sin. These sacrifices were reminders that the cost of sin was death.

When Jesus died, He instituted the New Covenant with His blood (Matthew 26:26-28; Luke 22:20; Rom. 11:27; I Cor. 11:25; Hebrews 8:8-12, 10:15-17). Because He is the image of God, He died in our place. He took on our sins and suffered for us.  His sacrifice is greater than that of any animal (see Hebrews 10:1-25). Unlike the animals, He only had to be offered once. He died in our place (Romans 5:6-20; I Peter 2:21-24, 3:18).

So there are many reasons we personally do not stone people today, but I will cover three of them: (Author’s note: this article has nothing to do with civil laws and the penalties created by governments for their transgression. I am addressing why the Christian community does not take upon itself the action of stoning others for transgressions of God’s Law.)

1) Jesus already died in our place for our sins, so how could we put someone else to death?

2) When Jesus died and rose from the dead, He was given the keys of death and the grave. Only He and the Father can make such a decision about someone’s physical life. “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys to death and the grave.”

3) When Christ died for us, He purchased all those who would accept Him. He owns us. This is expressed to us in I Corinthians 6:19b-20: “…You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

Because we were bought by Christ, we are His servants/slaves (Romans 6:18; I Peter 2:16). Since we all have the same Master, only He and the Father could the determination about where someone deserves to live or die based upon their life (see Acts 5:1-5). We will have to stand before Them and give account for the things done in the Body (see also Romans 14:9-12, I Peter 1:17). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10). He will reward us according to what we have done (Rev. 22:12; Romans 2:6-11).

We have at least one example in the New Testament that shows us how issues like this should be handled.

In I Corinthians chapter 5, we learn about a man who slept with his father’s wife. “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: a man has his father’s wife…” (verse 1). According to Leviticus 20:11, the punishment should be death. How did Paul address the situation?

“4 When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord…11 But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. 12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you.’”

Paul addressed this situation by dis-fellowshiping the guilty individual for a space of time. He also listed several other sins that can result in the same discipline. At the end of the chapter Paul quoted the Old Testament to support this action: ‘Expel the wicked man from among you.’

This verse is found several times in the book of Deuteronomy (Deut. 17:7, 19:19, 21:21, 22:21, 24, 24:7). All these references have to do with someone who is either being stoned or put to death. The overall goal of the punishment was to remove the evil from among the camp.

Paul applied these verses not by putting someone to death, but simply removing the guilty party from fellowship from the congregation. He even expresses his hope that this discipline would still result in the man’s salvation on the Day of the Lord (remember, the Lord will make the final decision about life and death).

In 2 Corinthians 2:5-11, we learn that he was brought back into the church after he sincerely repented. There are other places in the New Testament where we are instructed to utilize this kind of discipline: (Titus 3:9, Romans 16, I Cor 5, 2 Thess. 3:14-15)

Why don’t we stone people? Jesus died in our place to purchase us; He also rose from the dead.  Because He is our Master and has the keys of life and the grave, only He could make such a determination about whether or not a person deserved to live.

While we do not stone people for breaking God’s commandments, we do administer discipline in the church for certain sins (examples given in the New Testament) because they can defile the entire congregation of believers. When a person has genuinely repented, then they can be brought back.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President, www.biblesabbath.org

History The Seventh Day Baptists The oldest Sabbath-keeping Church in the US

History The Seventh Day Baptists The oldest Sabbath-keeping Church in the US

from the Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society

“A Thumbnail Sketch of Seventh Day Baptists from 1650 to the Present Seventh Day Baptists are a covenant people based on the concept of regenerate membership, believer’s baptism, congregational polity, and scriptural basis for belief and practice. Seventh Day Baptists have presented the Sabbath as a sign of obedience in a covenant relationship with God and not as a condition of salvation. They have not condemned those who do not accept the Sabbath but are curious at the apparent inconsistency of those who claim to accept the Bible as their source of faith and practice, yet have followed traditions of the church instead.

Seventh Day Baptists date their origin with the mid-17th century separatist movement in England. With the renewed emphasis on the Scriptures for Free Church doctrine and practice, men such as James Ockford, William Saller, Peter Chamberlain, Francis Bampfield, Edward and Joseph Stennett concluded that the keeping of the seventh-day Sabbath was an inescapable requirement of biblical Christianity. Some maintained membership within the Baptist fellowship and simply added the private Sabbath observance to their other shared convictions. As the power of the state was used to enforce conformity to a common day of worship, separation became necessary. The first separate church of record was the Mill Yard church founded about 1650 in London.

The study of the Scriptures in America brought Samuel and Tacy Hubbard to the Baptist principle of believer’s baptism in 1647, and membership in the First Baptist Church of Newport, Rhode Island. Beginning in 1665, their family and several others became convinced of the seventh-day Sabbath and joined in fellowship with Stephen Mumford and his wife who had held Sabbath convictions while members of a Baptist church in Tewksbury, England…”

(this article is an excerpt from the Sept-Oct 2013 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 12, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/media/TSS_2013_Sept-Oct-563.pdf