I would like to give way to an email addressed to me by a Seventh Day Adventist pastor who commented on my articles regarding the SDAC’s teachings, particularly the article entitled “The Faulty Covenant of the Seventh Day Adventist Church” posted last July 5, 2007. The email states:
First, my deepest apologies for Seventh Day Adventist’s that come across very rude. The Internet is a medium that can be taken the wrong way very easily and some are not as adept as they ought to be, perhaps, in expressing themselves in a way that one can discern the tenor and tone of the writer.
I was interested in your post and am not sure how you got this email, but I thought I would take a few moments to respond.
Yes, the first covenant was faulty and was discontinued at the cross of Christ. But the question is “what is the first covenant?” If it was the Ten Commandments then those are done away with at the cross, but if it wasn’t then they are still enforce. A covenant, as I am sure you are well aware of, is an agreement between two or more parties. The agreement called the Old Covenant was God stating that the children of Israel would obey His voice (Read Exodus 19-24) and the people said (three times) “all the Lord said we will do” and the final declaration they added “and be obedient.”
Moses took the blood of sacrifice and ratified (put into effect) that agreement. The Ten Commandments were the basis, the parameters, of the agreement, not the agreement itself. Thus, the Ten Commandments were not done away with when the old covenant was nullified.
Note what you high lighted so well in your quote of Hebrews, which comes from Jeremiah 31:31-34. God said that He would do something in this new covenant that does away with the idea that the Ten Commandments were done away with at the cross. God Himself states that He would “put My laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.” Far from the law being done away with. It is rather inscribed upon His peoples hearts. Thus, the ten commandments are not done away with. We know this, too, by the very fact that in the book of Revelation we are given two glimpses of the law in chapters 11 and 15 and that it is in heaven right now.
So, when you say that no one is sanctified by the old covenant you are correct. But Seventh-day Adventists are not under the old covenant. They are under the new like all true converted/transformed believers in Jesus Christ. They are not saved by their works. They are not saved by their obedience to the law of God, but they are empowered by God through His Spirit with His law written on their hearts to live for Him. Thus, a converted believer is following God out of a heart of love, trusting in the merits and mercies of Jesus Christ for the basis and sum of their salvation.
Since Adventists love God they seek to follow Him in all that He has spoken and one of those commandments that they joyfully obey is the fourth about keeping the seventh day holy. But obeying that commandment is no more a works trip than say, refraining from committing adultery either physically or in their heart, or by their refraining from stealing, etc and so forth. Their obedience is prompted by love for God and is simply the fruit evidence of their converted state.
True, some SDA’s are relying on their works for acceptance to God, but they are mistaken. But Adventism does not espouse or teach that one is saved by their obedience, but solely through the merits of Jesus Christ and they also teach that there is no such thing as cheap grace. God does not forgive only to allow us to go on sinning, breaking His commandments because they are “no longer under the old covenant.”
The new covenant involves the new heart. Ezekiel 36:25-27 says that God promises a new heart and His Spirit to enable us to keep His will, or His law. Adventists believe this and seek to do so by God’s grace.
I hope that this aids this very important and needed dialogue and the Lord bless you.
In His Service and at yours,
Pastor Kevin James
Ogden Seventh-day Adventist Church
Dear Pastor Kevin James,
While you admit that the first covenant was faulty, and discontinued at the cross of Christ, you claim that it was not the Ten Commandments. But a closer look at the following verses of Colossians 2:14, we will find out the inevitable conclusion that what was done away was the Ten Commandments with its statutes and judgment.
(Colossians 2:14-17) “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”
Note that Christians can not be judged after the blotting out of the ordinances regarding meats, drinks, holy days, and Sabbaths: which are a shadow of the real thing —which is Christ. Christ is the Sabbath for Christians!
There is no doubt that the first covenant is the covenant written on two tables of stones.
(Deuteronomy 4:13) “And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.”
It is also called as the “Law of Moses”, containing statutes and judgments.
(Malachi 4:4) “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.”
Which is this Law of Moses that contains statutes and judgment? Those that were commanded by God unto Moses in Horeb for all Israel. Which are these?
(Deuteronomy 5:1-15) “And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them. The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day. The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire, (I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to show you the word of the LORD: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount;) saying, I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. (1) Thou shalt have none other gods before me. (2) Thou shalt not make thee any graven image,or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments. (3) Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. (4) Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee. Six days thou shalt labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.” (5) Honor thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. (6) Thou shalt not kill. (7) Neither shalt thou commit adultery. (8) Neither shalt thou steal. (9) Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbor. (10) Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbor’s wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbor’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbor’s. These words the LORD spoke unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.
I intentionally highlighted in red, and numbered the commandments for your convenience and understanding, that the covenant made in Horeb between God and His people Israel, is the Ten Commandments, which He wrote on two tables of stone, also called the Law of Moses.
(Malachi 4:4) “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.”
This first covenant was intended for a nation — for Israel. The next covenant He promised He is going to make for the people of Israel will not be only for Israel, but is intended also for the gentiles, and He will write it not on tables of stones, but on ‘fleshy tables of the heart’.
(Hebrews 8:10) “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people…”
This is called the New Covenant.
(2 Corinthians 3:6, 3) “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life…”
“…Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.”
The letters that killeth being mentioned by Paul are the letters of the first covenant or testament, which are the Laws of Moses or the Ten Commandments!
(Hebrews 10:28) “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses…”
The New Covenant, as promised, will be written on hearts, thus, giving a chance of justification, even to those who have not heard the law — the gentile.
(Romans 2:11-15) “For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another)”
By the doing away of the first covenant, and enforcing the New Covenant, Christ made the reconciliation between Jews and non-Jews: making in Himself of twain a new man, one body or The Church.
(Ephesians 2:14-16) “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man,so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby…”
Jews and gentiles were reconciled to God by what Christ has done in the cross.
(Colossians 2:14-16) “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days…”
What is the New Covenant? It was not the one given on the mount, but which came from Jerusalem above.
(Galatians 4:22-26) “For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which engendereth to bondage, which is Hagar. For this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.”
The mother of all Christians is the covenant which came from above, from Jerusalem above, containing the Laws of Christ, and is meant for the whole world.
(Acts 1:2, 8 ) “Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen…”
“…But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
(Galatians 6:2) “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
(Matthew 28:20) “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
The New Covenant is the Gospel, the Law of Christ which He commanded to be observe until the end of the world.
(Luke 16:16) “The law and the prophets were until John: from that time the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and every man entereth violently into it.” ASV
The efficacy of the Law of Moses was until John, and then follows the gospel which is the New Covenant.
(Mark 1:14-15) “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
My dear brother Kevin James, may you find enlightenment within the verses that I have cited.
The first covenant was given in Horeb, and it was the Ten Commandments, with the statutes and judgment.
I pray for your enlightenment and all Seventh Day Adventist.
May God Bless You.