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Chapter XX - What Law Are Christians Under

What Law Are Christians Under?

When God speaks, is it not sin to disobey? Surely it is. Paul says: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his son." Heb. 1:1,2. This says that God hath spoken to men in various ways at different times. No matter in what way God's will was expressed, it would have been sin to disobey. "If the law of Sinai is gone, then there is no law, no sin," say Adventists. Indeed, then it is impossible for God to reveal his will to men, except in those exact words, letter for letter! Who believes such an absurdity? The whole controversy is reduced to simply this: Has God in the New Testament, plainly and fully revealed his will to men and told them what is right and what is wrong? Is the will of God revealed through his Son in the New Testament higher authority than the Old Testament, or is it not? Are the teachings of the New Testament to be modified to harmonize with the letter of the law in the Old Testament, or are the precepts of the Old Testament to be modified to harmonize with the gospel? The latter, certainly. But the gospel nowhere enjoins the seventh day.

Then is not the word of the Lord Jesus Christ law? Could there be any higher law? Said Jesus, "I and my Father are one," John 10:30, and "All men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father." John 5:23. Then the words of Christ are to be honored as highly as the words of God. They are law the same as God's words are. God promised to raise up Christ and put his words in his mouth, and he should speak as God commanded him, Deut. 18:18. Jesus said his Father sent him and commanded him what to say, John 12:49,50. "The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him at the last day," verse 48. Then we shall be judged by the teachings of Christ, not by the old law. Christians will be judged by the gospel. "In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel." Rom. 2:16. God said, "Hear ye him," Matt. 17:5. All authority in heaven and in earth is given to him, Matt. 28:18. "He taught them as one having authority," Matt. 7:29. He has a law, Gal. 6:2. "Fulfill the law of Christ." "The isles shall wait for his law." Isa. 42:4. We are under his law, 1 Cor. 9:21. "Under law to Christ," Revised Version, "Under Christ's law," Diaglott. "Under the law of the Messiah," Syriac. The grandest summary of moral and religious truth the world ever heard was the sermon on the Mount, Matt. 5-7. It is as much superior to the decalogue as gospel is superior to Judaism. Here Christ forbids murder, verses 21, 22; adultery, verses 27, 28; swearing, verse 34; hypocrisy, 6:1-5; covetousness, 6:19-34; and every wrong act, 7:12. Would it not be sin to disobey the precepts of Christ?

Jesus gave commandments to his disciples, Acts, 1:2, and commanded them to teach them to all nations. Matt. 28:18-20. We are to keep his commandments. John 14:15,21; 15:10. Then would it not be sin to break them? Who dare deny it? "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God," Eph. 1:1, said, "Put away lying," "sin not," and "steal no more," Eph. 4:25-28, and, "The things I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord." 1 Cor. 14:37. And yet Adventists will say, that if the old law is gone, there are no commandments against lying, stealing, etc. We know better, as the above teaches. Indeed Paul says, "I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you," "for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." Acts 20:20, 27. Every sin of which the human heart is guilty, is plainly forbidden in the New Testament over and over by the authority of Christ and his apostles, as all know. Yet nothing condemns sin but the decalogue!

The spirit of the Mosaic law, every moral principle in it, is reiterated over and over in the gospel, with all the authority of the Son of God. Not a Christian duty can be named which is not taught in the New Testament. Not a single thing is forbidden by the Old Testament which it would be wrong for a Christian to do, which is not also forbidden in the New, in some form. Excepting the Sabbath, the other nine commandments are in the New Testament, either in the same words or in substance.

Then is the Old Testament to be thrown away? God forbid. It should be received as the inspired word of God, a mine of precious truth; but it must be studied in the light of the New Testament, and modified by it. Nothing should be required of Christians simply because it is found in the law of the Old Testament. To bind our consciences, it must be required by the New Testament. Here the seventh day fails entirely, for there is no requirement in all the New Testament to keep it; but its abrogation is plainly taught.

"The Commandments Of God" In The New Testament

Seventh-Day Adventists have much to say about "the commandments of God," Rev. 14:12, and claim that these are the ten commandments. With them "the commandments" always means just the decalogue, nothing more. Wherever they find this term they thus apply it. But such a position is wholly erroneous. There are over 800 texts where the phrase, "the commandments," in its various forms is used. I have carefully examined every one of them. I find that it is a general term for all the requirements of the Bible. According to my best judgment, in forty-nine cases out of fifty it means something more than the ten commandments. Let the reader examine the following texts:

Lev. 22 refers wholly to the duties of the priests and the offering of sacrifices. What the Lord commanded about these he calls his "commandments." Verse 31. In Deut. 11:27,28, what Moses commanded is called "the commandments of God." In Deut. 26:12,13, the term is used of the law of tithing. In Deut. 28:1, it is applied to all that Moses commanded them. With a concordance, any person can readily find hundreds of cases where this term means something more than the decalogue. When Jesus was questioned about the law he named as the greatest "commandments," two entirely outside of the ten. See Matt. 22:35-40.

So the precepts of Christ and His apostles are often called commandments. Jesus says: "The Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment what I should say." John 12:49. If God gave Christ commandments, and He gave them to His church, would they not be the commandments of God? Certainly. The old dispensation was passing away, and the Lord was proclaiming the commandments of God for the new dispensation, the gospel. So in the great commission He said, "Teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Matt. 28:20.

Again Jesus said, John 14:15,21, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." How can we, in the face of these plain texts, say that Jesus gave no commandments? Who is it that loves Christ? He that keeps his commandments. This is what it is in the New Testament to be a commandment keeper. So again John 15:10,14: "If ye, keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love." "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you."

If, then, we do what Jesus commands us, is not that enough? And shall we not be safe and sure of his love and the love of his Father? But where did Jesus ever command to keep the seventh day? Nowhere. So Luke says he was taken up, "after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen." Acts 1:2. If Jesus gave commandments through the Holy Ghost, would they not be the commandments of God? Are not these equal to those given through Moses? Now hear Paul as to what are the commandments in the gospel: "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord." I Cor. 14:37.

Then all Paul's writings are "the commandments of God." And the Apostle says, Let those who are spiritual acknowledge it. Will our Seventh-day brethren acknowledge it? They may see a new meaning in "the commandments of God," Rev. 14:12, if they will. Again Paul says, "For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus," 1 Thess. 4:2. Then the Apostles did give commandments by the authority of the Lord Jesus. Peter bears a similar testimony. 2 Peter 3:2. "That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets and of the commandments of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior." *Entole*, the Greek word for commandment, occurs in the New Testament, in its singular and plural forms, sixty-eight times. In at least forty-eight of these cases it cannot mean the decalogue, and in over half of the others it is used in a general way. In not a single case is it certain that it means all the ten and nothing more. There is not a hint that it means the decalogue in any one of the three passages where it occurs in Revelation. To claim that it does is to assume without evidence the very point to be proved. John, who wrote the book of Revelation, also wrote the gospel of John and the three epistles of John. He uses the word "commandments," plural and singular, twenty-eight times, and in not a single case does it refer to the ten commandments; but in nearly every case, if not in all, it refers to the commandments of Jesus. See John 14:15,21; 15:10; 1 John 2:1-5; 3:22-24; 4:21; 5:1-3. And naturally we would suppose that he means the same thing by commandments in Rev. 14:12.

As Christ is our "Lord and Master," John 13:13, the "Head" of the church, Eph. 1:22; "All and in all," Col. 3:11; having "all power in heaven and in earth," Matt. 28:18; and is to judge the world, John 5:22; at his judgment seat, Rom. 14:10; how reasonable that he should give the laws to that church. This is just what he did do, Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:1,2. If any one will obey the teachings of Christ he need not fear about his salvation.

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