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Author Topic: 10 Surprises for Adherents of Semi-Antinomian Theology  (Read 5092 times)

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Azenilto Brito

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10 Surprises for Adherents of Semi-Antinomian Theology
« on: March 18, 2008, 05:25:14 AM »


CORRESPONDENCE WITH AN EX-ADVENTIST WHO SENT US A RECORDED CD
:

Dear Y. [Name witheld throughout]

Greetings

       Thank you for the CD you sent us, with the lecture by Dr. Michael Cesar [who is both a medical doctor and an Evangelical pastor]. It shows a positive attitude on your part to share with others what you deem to be important teachings for us who belong to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which, as I understand, you belonged to for a time.
       By coincidence the CD arrived on the Sabbath afternoon, when Clelia and I, were enjoying the physical and mental rest granted by the Sabbath commandment, that Dr. Cesar recognizes being so important to our health. I heard it carefully and even enjoyed learning about Hitler’s labor practices when building the Nazi arsenal having people working non-stop seven days a week, and how that didn’t work. Very good! That was one more argument IN FAVOR of the Sabbath commandment.  Please, thank Dr. Cesar for that input for me, if you meet him. . .
       Now, as I did my part in hearing carefully your CD I hope you also read carefully my assessment of this discussion to the end and, if possible, answer the questions that I address you as are added to my commentaries (the 10 “surprises”), sending them to me afterwards. If you don’t feel like doing it, at least have them as some points to ponder in your examination of this important religious matter.
       May God bless you richly and guide you in His truth, especially as we see the signs of the soon coming of Christ, with so many things happening that confirm what the SDA Church has been announcing for over 150 years.

Best regards

Azenilto G. Brito
Sola Scriptura Ministry
Bessemer, AL


10 Surprises for Y. Regarding Dr. Michael Cesar’s Anti-Sabbatarian CD

1st. Surprise: Dr. Michael Cesar doesn’t rightly divide the Word of Truth.

       At a certain point of his conference Dr. Michael Cesar quotes 2 Tim. 2:15, about rightly dividing the Word of Truth (the Bible), and he even criticizes many Christians, including pastors, who don’t do it as should. Well, your first surprise, Y., is to learn that Dr. Cesar is one of those who don’t divide God’s Word correctly. In the name of Jesus I will demonstrate why I state that.
       For example, he begins his lecture on the 10 Commandments saying that they don’t apply to the Christian anymore. That is funny as he later on says that NINE out of the TEN are reiterated in the NT. So, is he dividing correctly God’s Word when he denies something completely but later on comes back to salvage 90% of that thing that doesn’t apply to the Christian community? Confusing, isn’t it? Besides, he adds that the 10 Commandments only serve to show that we are sinners! Then what?! Aren’t we really sinners?!
       Now, dividing correctly the word of truth we find John saying: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jo. 1:8').
       Dr. Cesar should check Calvin’s Institutes to learn the illustration of the mirror. He compares the law with a mirror that shows the stain in our face, but has no power to erase it. Then, the sinner, thus informed of his failures, will look for solution, which is found in Christ. Isn’t that exactly what Paul says in Roman 7:7, 8? “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet”.
       We are sinners, indeed, and the law points to us our flaws so that we can count on the magnificent promise we find in the next verse of what I quoted from John: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jo. 1:9).
       
       * Now, I have a question for Y. (and for Dr. Cesar in case she can reach him): What is the Bible definition of “sin”? (I will even give a hint--read 1 John 3:4).

2nd. Surprise: Dr. Michael Cesar is not only anti-Seventh-day Adventist, but anti-Protestant/Evangelical in his approach to the 10 Commandments.

       That could sound shocking to you, but this man shows he is not a well-informed Evangelical teacher. His notions on the Ten Commandments not applying to the Christians anymore under the New Covenant go against what Baptists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Methodists, Anglicans and even Lutherans FOR CENTURIES established as Bible truth in their historical Confessions of Faith and instructional material by great men in their milieu. Just check what the Westminster Confession of Faith, or the Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, or the 39 Articles of Religion of the Church of England say about the role of these 10 Commandments and you will see how this gentleman is contradicting what the Protestant/Evangelical community has been teaching regarding that matter along the times. Or else, read what Luther, Calvin, Wesley taught on the importance of abiding faithfully to this rule of Christian conduct as they considered being the Decalogue, and you will see the discrepancy between Mr. Cesar’s teachings and theirs.

       * Now, I have a question for Y. (and for Dr. Cesar in case she can reach him): Have you ever read what Martin Luther says in his document “Treatise Against the Antinomians”, protesting their implying that he taught the abolition of the 10 Commandments, which he says he even memorized one by one, as a child would do?

3rd. Surprise: Dr. Michael Cesar is tremendously contradictory in many points.

       He quotes Matt. 22:35-40, about Jesus’ answering the question of the Jewish leader regarding what is the greatest commandment in the law. Correctly dividing the word of truth he says that the first 4 commandments apply to our relationship with God, and the last 6, to our relationship with our neighbors. That is correct, and in harmony with what both the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 explain.
       Now, since he tries to discard the Sabbath from these TEN Commandments, leaving it just with NINE as applicable to the Christian community how come he stresses the FOUR “spiritual” ones, when one of them was abolished, being just a shadow of the rest of salvation in Christ? And that after his recognition of the importance of the physical and mental rest that this commandment grants the believer. Very much confusing, indeed. . .

       * Now, I have a question for Y. (and for Dr. Cesar in case she can reach him): why did the scribe, who clearly wanted to trap Jesus in a question that would cause Him to contradict Israel’s traditions, end up complimenting the Master’s answer, instead of finding fault in it (see Mar. 12:28-34)?

4th. Surprise: Dr. Michael Cesar confuses the question of the “sign” of God regarding the Sabbath.

       He confuses the matter of the “sign” between God and His people established through the Sabbath commandment as he stresses insistently that it was set JUST between God and the Israelites. Now, he never mentions a text that destroys this argument of his, which is Isa. 56:2-7. What we read there is that God calls the FOREIGNERS to accept His covenant with Israel within His ideal expressed in vs. 7: “Mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people”. Thus, the Sabbath was not limited to Israel, but to all who believed from all nations since immemorial times. . ..
       The problem is that Dr. Cesar, as many other Christians who don’t divide rightly the Word of Truth, has a very diminutive conception of God’s plan to Israel and the world. He ignores that God chose Israel to be “My witnesses”, as He says in Isa. 43:9, 10, the “light of the nations” (Isa. 60). Israel was placed in the crossroads of three continents to be a showcase nation, so that foreign travelers were influenced by that nation that would point to them the true God, His law and His plan of salvation. That is a “macro” view of God that those who just have a “micro” understanding of His plans to Israel and the world cannot comprehend.
       Israel failed miserably in fulfilling that ideal, but that doesn’t annul God’s plan that now is transferred to the “expanded Israel” of the New Covenant, encompassing both Jews and Gentiles (Gal. 3:7-9, 29). How regrettable that so many students of the Bible are unable to rightly divide the Word of Truth at that point, which leads them to confuse the importance of this “sign” between God and His people, potentially from all the world.
       Maybe it could represent an additional surprise to Y. that the Baptists, of the main Brazilian Baptist Convention (the Convenção Batista Nacional), in its “Doctrinal Statement”, bring the text of Exo. 31:14-18 as footnote to their Bible backing of the topic “The Christian Sabbath”. Even though they apply it to Sunday (in which they are wrong), it makes much sense, because atheists, materialists and lax Christians won’t have any disposition to dedicate regularly a whole day to the Lord. Thus, the Sabbath commandment is observed as a “sign” of true Christians dedicated to honor their God.

       * Now, I have a question for Y. (and for Dr. Cesar in case she can reach him): why did God set the covenant, with the Sabbath as a sign thereof, with Israel, not with the Egyptians, nor Babylonians, nor Philistines, nor Syrians, nor Nubians?

5th. Surprise: Dr. Cesar Utilizes the Poor “Argument of Silence” Which Doesn’t Prove Anything.

       People who are not only good at rightly dividing the Word of Truth, but also at Apologetics know that resorting to these “arguments of silence” is a poor tool to demonstrate whatsoever. To prove a certain point based on the absence of certain statement is a two-edged sword, because if the Bible, for example, doesn’t say that Adam kept the Sabbath, it also doesn’t say that Adam DID NOT keep it!
       Thus, we have a tie there, don’t we? But, let’s go to a tiebreak: the Bible says that God did three things regarding the Sabbath: He rested on the seventh day (leaving an example to His human creatures, as Calvin states), He blessed the seventh day and He sanctified (separated) the seventh day. As God is fully holy He didn’t have to sanctify anything to Himself, thus if He did it, that was for man. And Jesus confirmed it, as we will see in our next point.
       Now, did Abraham, Isaac, Jacob keep the Sabbath? The Bible doesn’t say they did. But did Abraham, Isaac and Jacob worship idols? The Bible doesn’t say they did or that they DIDN’t! However we read in Genesis 26:5: “Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charges, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws”. Now, does this statement mean these charges, commandments, statutes and laws encompassed principles not to lie, not to covet other man’s wives, not to take God’s name in vain, not to worship idols, but EXCLUDED the principle of dedicating one day to God? How can that be proved?
       And an extra surprise is that the Baptists, Presbyterians and other Christians recognize that the Sabbath commandment stems from the creation of the world. Christian leaders have often referred to the Sabbath as a principle respected since Adam, in many instructional books, in what they are in harmony with such Christian confessional documents as the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 and other later similar documents. Calvin, Luther and Wesley (see “A Word to a Sabbath-breaker”, in Works, Vol. 11, pp. 164-166) confirm that the Sabbath comes from Eden, thus being a moral and universal principle.

       * Now, I have a question for Y. (and for Dr. Cesar in case she can reach him): can you prove to me that Adam, who had the occupation of a gardener in Eden (Gen. 2:15), worked all seven days of the week, just stopping to rest at night, as the Germans under Hitler?

6th. Surprise: Dr. Cesar in his discussion on the Sabbath suspiciously skips certain key-texts.

       We‘ve already seen that when he skipped Isa. 56:2-7 trying to prove that the Sabbath laws applied only to the nation of Israel, and again that happens when he quotes Mark 2:28, “The Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath”. Well, he skipped the previous verse that says: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath”.
       Now, it seems strange the way he both recognizes the spiritual character of the first four commandments and the importance of physical and mental rest for everyone, but then tries to convince us that the Sabbath is worth nothing to the Christian. What a confusing rationale is there in this exposition?!
       See that the text he missed doesn’t say “the Jewish man”, as the second part of Mar. 2:27 makes clear. Thus, to be consistent with the reasoning of some, Jesus should have said, “The Sabbath was made for the Jewish man, not the Jewish man for the Sabbath”. That cannot be, because God created “man”. The fact that later on he became Jew, Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek, American, Brazilian is due to very different circumstances. Besides, the original word for “man” in Mar. 2:27 is anthropós, the same that is used in the commentary of Christ about the man-anthropós who leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife (Mat. 19:5, 6). And is marriage, by any chance, something only for Jews?

       * Now, I have a question for Y. (and for Dr. Cesar in case she can reach him): can you prove to me that Jesus excluded the Sabbath commandment when he recommended to His followers, “Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so [of the law he said He had not come to abolish, but to fulfill], he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:19)?

7th. Surprise: Dr. Cesar misses the reiteration of the Sabbath in the New Testament and allows the practice of communication with the dead!

       He says repeatedly that the Sabbath is the only of the Ten Commandments that is not reiterated in the New Testament. Now, is it necessary that God’s commands be fully and literally repeated in the New Testament so that they become valid for the Christians? Well, if that is so, then we have some serious problems to face.
       Besides the weakness of, again, this type of “argument of silence”, Dr. Cesar forgets that to follow his tortuous reasoning allows the Spiritists to justify biblically their practice of communicating with the dead! Yes, for they often actually employ this exact argument of not being repeated in the New Testament the law “only for Israel” prohibiting that, as in Deu. 18:9-11 and Isa. 8:19, 20! Where does the New Testament reiterate the order to not have this kind of communication with those who departed from us?
       And how about manufacturing sculpted images? The New Testament just mentions “idols”, basically applicable to pagan deities, which wouldn’t apply to the saints, or to Mary or even to the Incarnate Jesus. In the New Testament there is no ipsis verbis repetition of the second commandment. Not even of the third one, “ye shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain”, in a direct way. There are only indirect references to that commandment.
       Besides, how about the tithe principle? Where is it found in the New Testament any direct, objective, specific command for the Christians to adopt it? However, many churches and pastors wouldn’t do without it, even when they contradictorily allege that the Sabbath belongs to the old covenant, as it is not directly required in the New Testament! Speak of inconsistency!
       Now, the surprising fact to Y. et alii is that the Sabbath is reiterated in the New Testament indeed. Let’s see how that can be proved: Besides what we have already covered regarding Christ’s statement that “the Sabbath was made for man”, confirming its Edenic origin and universal character, He recommended to His disciples and “to the multitudes”: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works. For they say and do not” (Matt. 23:1-3).
       Now, one of the things they said was that they should keep the Sabbath faithfully (see Luke 13:14). Thus, Jesus is reiterating ALL that their religious leaders taught, which was in accordance to the commandments that He said He didn’t come to abolish, but to fulfill, and that they should obey plainly in their least aspects (Matt. 5:17-19).
       Jesus shows in these texts total CONFIRMATION of every feature of God’s law, which is divided rightly into “love to God” (the first 4 commandments, which inescapably includes the Sabbath) and “love to your neighbor” (the last 6 commandments). He recommends the keeping of ALL that was taught by their religious leaders, just reminding them that their hypocritical do-as-I-say-but-not-as-I-do attitude should be put aside.

       * Now, I have a question for Y. (and for Dr. Cesar in case she can reach him): what was the tenor of Christ’s several discussions with the Jewish leaders regarding the Sabbath--was it IF the Sabbath should be kept, WHEN the Sabbath should be kept, or HOW the Sabbath should be kept in its due spirit?

[To be continued in the next thread]


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Azenilto Brito

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Re: 10 Surprises for Adherents of Semi-Antinomian Theology
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2008, 05:27:12 AM »


[Conclusion of previous thread]

8th. Surprise: Dr. Cesar misses the meaning of the “salvation rest” in both Matt. 11:28 and Hebrews 3 and 4.

       The attempt to apply the Sabbath commandment to the “salvation rest” in both Matt. 11:28 and Hebrews 3 and 4 ends up defining the Sabbath as a ceremonial commandment that ended with the proclamation of that salvation freely granted to all on the cross. But if Jesus applied the “salvation rest” in Matt. 11:28 (“Come to Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”), when did that “salvation rest” begin to put the Sabbath aside? Wasn’t the Sabbath commandment ended on the cross? If so, how about those who already experienced the “salvation rest” before Jesus’ death, like the dedicated women who served Him faithfully and were so close to Him, but after His death, while preparing ointments for embalming His body “rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56)? Their experience of salvation didn’t mean that the Sabbath became meaningless to them. . . And let’s remember that Luke recorded this episode 30 years AFTER it, stressing that they did it “according to the commandment”, in a natural manner as in accordance to his understanding. And the following verse (24:1) shows that the Sabbath they kept “according to the commandment” was the day that comes before the one he simply called “first day of the week”, or mi­a twn sabbaton, in Greek, which simply means, “the first from the Sabbath”. Luke knew nothing, 30 years after Christ’s death, of this first day being “Lord’s day”. . .
       Then, we have Paul’s discussion on the “rest” that Israel failed to obtain due to their sin, and his illustration of the Sabbath rest that God Himself set (Heb. 4:4). Many who don’t divide rightly the Word of Truth try to convince us that this indicates the prefigurative aspect of the Sabbath. But if Israel failed in reaching that rest, there were those within the nation who indeed experienced this “salvation rest”, like the heroes listed in the “Hall of Fame” of the faithful servants of God, as Hebrews 11 is often referred to. However, they didn’t neglect keeping the Sabbath because of that. David, for one, said: “I delight to do thy will, O my God. Yea, thy law is within my heart” (Psa. 40:8'). David’s statement should have reflected the experience of the entire nation of Israel.
       Now, the nation failed miserably as we have already covered, but had they not departed from God, but rather experienced that spiritual rest fulfilling its mission to proclaim the true God, His law and His plan of salvation to the other nations, that would not mean the end of the Sabbath, would it?
       The fact is that the promise God made to Israel was not to have them freed from any commandment of His law, but, on the contrary, to have that law written in their hearts and minds (Eze. 36:26, 27; Jer. 31:31-33) if they accepted the “spiritual rest” by accepting this “new covenant” God proposed them repeatedly. By the way that same promise was later made to those who belonged to Israel by faith (Heb. 8:6-10 and 10:16).

       * Now, I have a question for Y. (and for Dr. Cesar in case she can reach him): Where is it written that in the change from the Old to the New Covenant, when God writes what is called “My laws” in the hearts and minds of those who accept the terms of the New Covenant [New Testament] (Heb. 8:6-10), transferring the contents of the cold tables of stone to the hearts warmed by the divine grace (2 Cor. 3:2-7), He, a) leaves out the 4th commandment of the moral law; b) includes the 4th commandment, but changing the sanctity of the 7th to the 1st day of the week, or, c) includes the 4th commandment, but leaving it as a vague, voluntary and variable principle that can be reinterpreted as any day or time which is most convenient to the believer (or his employer)? Basic texts: Hebrews 8:6-10; Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 11:19, 20 and 36:26, 27.

9th. Surprise: Dr. Cesar doesn’t understand Paul’s discussion on the law in Galatians, Romans and other locations.

       A key-text to understand Paul’s discussion on the law in his epistles is Romans 9:30-32: “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone”.
       So, the problem was not in the law, which Paul himself called “holy”, “just”, “good”, “spiritual” and a delight to him, stating that he himself fulfilled it with his mind (Rom. 7:12, 14, 22, 25). The problem was in its wrong use--to take it as a source of righteousness when that was not its function. He clarifies in 1Timothy 1:8: “But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully” [other translations say “properly”-NIV].
       Many who don’t divide rightly the Word of Truth discriminate against the Sabbath commandment as the ONLY that puts people “under the law”. They never refer to being under such condition by the fulfillment of any of the other nine, why?! Galatians, Romans, Ephesians, and Colossians, are quoted to “prove” that the Christian is not under the obligation to fulfill the law to obtain salvation, which is not a question of dispute in the face of the clear texts that show that salvation is by grace, not by obedience to any laws.
       The “under the law” language is a favorite of these people, but it would be interesting to analyze it according to the text of Galatians. We read: “This I say then. Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. . . . But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: [Then comes a list of sins, or violations of God’s law]” (Gal. 5:16, 18-21).
       Clearly in this text to be “under the law” is contrasted with being led by the Spirit. But those who ARE NOT led by the Spirit--consequently are “under the law”--are not whoever keeps the law, but, on the contrary the ones who TRANSGRESS it, practicing all those sins listed in vs. 19-21!
       Now, among the many surprises found in this study maybe one of the most insightful is Martin Luther’s commentary on this expression so distorted and misunderstood by those who don’t divide rightly the Word of Truth. Let’s see how Luther discusses the phrase “under the law” in his classic “Preface to the Epistle of Paul to the Romans”:

       “And this is what we can do, he [Paul] states, because we are in the grace, and not in the law, which he himself interprets in the following sense: ‘Being without law’ it not the same as not having any law, and that we can do whatever pleases each one, but that ‘being under the law’ is when, without the grace, we deal with the works of the law. Then, certainly sin masters through the law, since nobody by nature is fond of the law, and this is a great sin. Grace, however, makes the law agreeable to us, so that there is no more sin, and the law is not against us, but in harmony with us. This is true freedom from sin and the law, of which he speaks at the end of this chapter. It’s a freedom to do only good, willing to live correctly without the forcefulness of the law. Because of that, such freedom is a spiritual freedom, that doesn’t annul the law, rather offers that which is required by the law: willingness and love, with which the law is appeased and is no more inciting and requiring”. - Underlining added.

       * Now, I have a question for Y. (and for Dr. Cesar in case she can reach him): Since it is impossible to alter the terms of a will after the death of the testator (Heb. 9:15-17) how could the death of the divine Testator allow the change in God’s law, be it from the Sabbath to Sunday or from the Sabbath to the new theological notion of the semi-antinomian dispensationalists’ Nodayism/Anydayism/Everydayism?

10th. Surprise: Seventh-day Adventists need no sermon regarding salvation solely by faith, inasmuch  as that is part of SDA official teachings, perfectly in harmony with Galatians and other Pauline writings.

       How about just reproducing topics 9, 10 and 18 from the official “Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists”?

       9. The Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ: In Christ’s life of perfect obedience to God’s will, His suffering, death, and resurrection, God provided the only means of atonement for human sin, so that those who by faith accept this atonement may have eternal life, and the whole creation may better understand the infinite and holy love of the Creator. This perfect atonement vindicates the righteousness of God’s law and the graciousness of His character; for it both condemns our sin and provides for our forgiveness. The death of Christ is substitutionary and expiatory reconciling and transforming. The resurrection of Christ proclaims God’s triumph over the forces of evil, and for those who accept the atonement assures their final victory over sin and death. It declares the Lordship of Jesus Christ, before whom every knee in heaven and on earth will bow. (John 3:16; Isa. 53; 1 Peter 2:21, 22; 1 Cor. 15:3, 4, 20-22; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15, 19-21; Rom. 1:4; 3:25; 4:25; 8:3, 4; 1 John 2:2; 4:10; Col. 2:15; Phil. 2:6-11.)

       10. The Experience of Salvation: In infinite love and mercy God made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might be made the righteousness of God. Led by the Holy Spirit we sense our need, acknowledge our sinfulness, repent of our transgressions, and exercise faith in Jesus as Lord and Christ, as Substitute and Example. This faith which receives salvation comes through the divine power of the Word and is the gift of God’s grace. Through Christ we are justified, adopted as God’s sons and daughters, and delivered from the lordship of sin. Through the Spirit we are born again and sanctified; the Spirit renews our minds, writes God’s law of love in our hearts, and we are given the power to live a holy life. Abiding in Him we become partakers of the divine nature and have the assurance of salvation now and in the judgment. (2 Cor. 5:17-21; John 3:16; Gal. 1:4; 4:4-7; Titus 3:3-7; John 16:8; Gal. 3:13, 14; 1 Peter 2:21, 22; Rom. 10:17; Luke 17:5; Mark 9:23, 24; Eph. 2:5-10; Rom. 3:21-26; Col. 1:13, 14; Rom. 8:14-17; Gal. 3:26; John 3:3-8; 1 Peter 1:23; Rom. 12:2; Heb. 8:7-12; Eze. 36:25-27; 2 Peter 1:3, 4; Rom. 8:1-4; 5:6-10.)

       18. The Law of God: The great principles of God’s law are embodied in the Ten Commandments and exemplified in the life of Christ. They express God’s love, will, and purposes concerning human conduct and relationships and are binding upon all people in every age. These precepts are the basis of God’s covenant with His people and the standard in God’s judgment. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit they point out sin and awaken a sense of need for a Saviour. Salvation is all of grace and not of works, but its fruitage is obedience to the Commandments. This obedience develops Christian character and results in a sense of well-being. It is an evidence of our love for the Lord and our concern for our fellow men. The obedience of faith demonstrates the power of Christ to transform lives, and therefore strengthens Christian witness. (Ex. 20:1-17; Ps. 40:7, 8; Matt. 22:36-40; Deut. 28:1-14; Matt. 5:17-20; Heb. 8:8-10; John 15:7-10; Eph. 2:8-10; 1 John 5:3; Rom. 8:3, 4; Ps. 19:7-14.) --
Underlining added.
       
       Or how about the reproduction of this text from a Sabbath School quarterly that is the text of study for over 15 million SDA’s all over the world?:

      “The Bible makes it clear that our walk with Christ doesn’t end on the day of conversion. On the contrary when people give themselves totally to Christ, they begin a whole new life, a whole new existence (Rom. 6:4). It’s not that a new Christian has to work to reach salvation, as in other faiths; instead, because he or she already has salvation, already stands perfect and accepted in God, the Christian begins to live a life that reveals and reflects that salvation. Sure, we are saved by faith, but what kind of faith? A faith that is expressed in a life that reveals a commitment to Jesus Christ.
       “Central to our new life in Christ is spiritual growth. As Christians, we can’t remain static: We are always in the process of change as we should better reflect the image of Jesus Christ. And crucial to the whole growth process is the Word of God, which shows us how and why we must ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ‘”. (2 Pet. 3:18, NIV). -
Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide, Lesson 12, “Growing Through the Word”, p. 137.

     * Now, I have a question for Y. (and for Dr. Cesar in case she can reach him): Could you please point to me in what topics 9, 10 and 18 of the SDA’s official statement of faith, besides the quotation from the Sabbath School Quarterly conflict with the message of Galatians, Romans, Ephesians, or any other Bible passage that deals with the means of salvation?

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Azenilto Brito

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Re: 10 Surprises for Adherents of Semi-Antinomian Theology
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2008, 05:43:14 AM »


On a Special Anniversary, Some Challenging Questions For a Challenger of Our Faith

       In two more days, March 20, 2008, I will celebrate my 42nd anniversary of baptism as a Seventh-day Adventist. That happened in my early youth, after I left the Army service in my native Brazil. I was raised in a traditional Evangelical family, the Congregational Church, and to this day some members of my extended family are members of that denomination.
       I remember how I attended Sunday School in my boyhood regularly and sometimes after church I wished to go up to a soccer field near my home, where amateur clubs competed in a regional tournament. But my father, a veteran officer of the church, wouldn’t allow me, for that would not be permissible on the “Lord’s day”. Also, if either myself, or one of my four sisters, had test at school on Monday, we were not allowed to study for it, on Sunday.
       That seems funny to me now as I see the new trends in Protestantism, in a much “user friendly” attitude of what I call anydayism/nodayism/everydayism--no more mandatory days to keep to the Lord, everybody being free to administer his/her time as one pleases. Some even consider this as part of the “Christian freedom” they are entitled to.
       But that doesn’t correspond to what we read in the most representative Confessions of Faith, Creeds and Catechisms of mainline Evangelical-Protestant churches! They clearly enunciate the dedication of a 24-hour time span to God as “Lord’s day”, preferably on Sunday (supposedly the Resurrection Memorial).
      Now, the majority of Evangelicals with whom I interact in forums and debate groups seem to even ignore what their own Churches teach regarding this Sabbath principle. It seems that most think that the modern mindset of having Sunday, not as a holy day, but as a holiday, is what always prevailed in the Christian field.
       No, it is not. Something happened along the time that transformed Sunday in a day in which Evangelicals act exactly as the Roman Catholics. The RCC doesn’t emphasize the “sanctification” aspect of the “Lord’s day”, but the mere participation of the believer in Sunday mass. Since the Vatican Council II, even Saturday afternoons or evenings are okay for a Catholic to “fulfill his/her obligation” of attending mass, having, then, the remainder of the weekend free to accomplish whatever is wished, be it going to the Mall, or staying home watching a favorite sports show, doing business or even going to work.
       That is not the spirit of the Sabbath, according to God’s commandment, which first of all emphasizes the “sanctification” aspect of God’s recommendation, with the “rest” element coming second (Exo. 20:8-11).
       Now, as I already showed, that is not what Protestants traditionally learned and practiced as their faith expression, as I experienced in my own home as a child and adolescent. But times and mores have changed!
       Jesus said that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). That shows the universal character of the commandment, as is recognized in the above-mentioned Christian confessional documents. The Edenic origins of the Sabbath was always a clear understanding of those Christians, as well as the “division” of the law, as being “moral”, “ceremonial”, “civil”, “penal”, etc.
       Now, some Protestant instructors and preachers either ignore these facts, or are aware of them, but omit such information from their congregations. Many give the impression that these ideas of the Sabbath being a principle that stems from Creation, or the Ten Commandments as still being the rule of life for the Christians, are adopted only by Seventh-day Adventists or other few religious Sabbath-keeping groups, which is a clear misconception.
       Other day I came across a very finely produced publication, made of high-quality paper and design, called Proclamation. It is promoted by a certain former SDA Pastor called Dale Ratzlaff who seems to see his mission in life now as that of convincing Seventh-day Adventists of the error of believing in these aforementioned points (among other things), despite being part of the Protestant tradition. I wonder whether he would qualify as someone who ignores them, or is aware of these facts but omits them from his readers and listeners.
       So, I have some direct questions to submit to Mr. Dale Ratzlaff, and the first three are exactly:

* do you ignore that the “standard” Protestant position about the 10 Commandments is that they constitute God’s law (as Martin Luther himself so refers in the first lines of his document, “Treatise Against the Antinomians”), as can be seen in such confessional Christian documents as the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Baptist Confession of 1689, or Luther’s  Small Catechism?

* do you ignore that the “standard” Protestant position about God’s law is the same presented by Seventh-day Adventists, being “divided” into ‘moral‘, ‘ceremonial‘, ‘civil‘, ‘penal‘, etc. as taught in these confessional documents and by important instructors in the Protestant field along the centuries?

* do you ignore that the “standard” Protestant position about the 4th commandment is that it comes from God’s creation, thus being recognized as a universal principle, with Gen. 2:2, 3 and Mark 2:27 often quoted in said confessional documents and instructional works to confirm it?

       By the way, I have been asking my Evangelical friends in Christian discussion Forums in the Internet what they think about the way the Congregational Church, which I attended for many years, defines this question of God’s law in regard to His grace. I think it is the most concise, objective and to the point definition of all the ones I have examined from Protestant expositions. I translated it into English from the text that I found in a publication of my Brazilian Congregational Church:

       Topic 21--About the Believers’ Obedience - Although the saved ones don’t obtain salvation through obedience to the law, but by the merits of Jesus Christ, they receive the law and all God’s precepts as a means by which He manifests His will on the redeemed ones’ procedure and keep them even more carefully and thankfully for the reason of being found saved by grace. Eph.  2:8,9; I Jo 5:2,3; Tt 3:4-8. (From the document of the Congregational Church in Brazil, “The Twenty-eight Articles of the Short Exposition of the Foundational Doctrines of Christianity”).


      Additionally, I learned through a Sunday School quarterly of said denomination (dated Aug, 15, 1971): 

       “The transmission of the Law on Mount Sinai represents one of the most remarkable and universal events. . . . Such as the rocks of the mountain upon which they were transmitted, these precepts form the immutable basis of the moral life of men and nations, the everlasting foundation of all worthy and firm civilization”.


       This prompts one more question to Mr. Ratzlaff:

* do you agree with this definition of God’s law in relation to God’s grace expressed in the Congregational document, as well as the commentary of the Sunday School quarterly?

       I have a favor to ask you, also: if these statements are wrong, please point to me exactly where the error lies so that I can advise dear relatives of mine (sisters, brothers-in-law, nephews) who attend that Church. I don’t want seeing them under a false teaching regarding these points.

       I anticipate my best thanks for clear and objective answers to my questions above.

       Best regards

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Azenilto Brito

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The Dale Ratzlaff Challenge Duly Responded to
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2008, 05:44:47 AM »


Mr. Ratzlaff’s Quiz to Challenge Seventh-day Adventists

       Speaking of Proclamation magazine, the January/February issue brings on page 3 a question, “Can you pass this quiz?” But this seemingly challenging and hard-to-answer series of questions shows some interesting and “quizzical” points, which I highlight in the format of some new questions to the author of the questionnaire. Mr. Ratzlaff, please, answer this:

* why in your questions about the “law” in Matthew, John, etc. you have the options of “always”, “usually”, “seldom”, “never” regarding the Ten Commandments as the specific meaning of the term “law”, but you forgot to add, “including”? Yes, because in Matthew, John and other occasions in the Bible, the Ten Commandments ARE INCLUDED in the reference to “law”, not excluded.

       In Matthew 5:17, 18 Jesus says He didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Is He referring specifically to the Ten Commandments? No, He clearly refers to the complete Torah, which includes ALL aspects of the law. This is made clear in vs. 23: “. . . if you are offering your gift  at the altar . . . leave your gift there in front of the altar”. That is typical language of the ritual part of the law.

       That prompts a few new questions:

* do you agree that Jesus’ reference to the “law” in Matt. 5:17-20 comprehends all aspects of the Torah, INCLUDING, not excluding, the 10 Commandments and, with them, the Sabbath precept?

* if your answer is yes, as I think it would be, does that mean that if someone keeps the Ten Commandments, with God’s help, that person is also obliged to offer gifts at the altar of sacrifices and perform all rituals of Israel’s laws?

* if your answer is yes, as I also think is what you imply, does that mean that when Paul reminded the Ephesians regarding their necessity to remember “the first commandment with a promise”, which is the 5th of the Decalogue (Eph. 6:1-3), those Christians in Ephesus were obliged to also offer gifts at the altar of sacrifices and perform all rituals of Israel’s laws?

* if your answer is no, why do you discriminate against the keeping of the Sabbath in that regard, teaching that those who keep the 4th commandment, plus the other nine, would be obliged to fulfill all the other ceremonial aspects of the law, but not those who keep the 5th, and the other eight (with the 4th excluded)?

* why do you emphasize so much the EXCLUSION of the 10 Commandments from the expression “law” in the New Testament as something detrimental to the Christian faith? What is wrong with these commandments? Would it be,

- the rule of not having other gods?
- the rule of not utilizing images of sculpture in acts of worship?
- the rule of not pronouncing God’s name in vain?
- the rule on the duty of honoring the parents?
- the rule of not to kill
- the rule of not to commit adultery?
- the rule of not to steal?
- the rule of not to give false witness against others?
- the rule of not to covet a person’s things or spouse?

       And a final question to Mr. Ratzlaff:

* in the context of what Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-19 He referred to His hearers as “salt of the Earth”, “light of the world” and a little later taught them the “Lord’s prayer”. Why, then, His words in these texts cannot apply to those who TODAY consider themselves “salt of the Earth”, “light of the world” and pray the Lord’s prayer?



The False Premise of Dale Ratzlaff’s Theological Stand

       When something begins wrong, chances are that it will continue being wrong all along its development.
       In 1990 I had the opportunity of visiting Europe in a tour of eight countries with some Brazilian friends. One of our tours included a visit to the St. Peter’s Cathedral, in Rome. One thing that caught my attention as I saw the artistic interior of the famous temple was the inscription, in golden letters, at the base of the “Rotunda” (the little dome right at the middle of the ceiling). It was simply the reproduction of Matthews 16:18, 19--“You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church. . .”)
       When I saw that, I thought to myself: “Wow, such a fabulous physical and ideological structure encompassing so many millions of people, institutions, traditions, rituals, publications. . .,  all that founded on a text out of its due context!”
       Later on I visited the Brazilian “Bethel” and printing plant of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (I also had passed in front of the Watchtower headquarters when traveling across the Brooklyn section of New York City) and I could see all their efforts and material means to proclaim their message, all that based on a certain date which has no confirmation of any serious historian, Bible chronologist and archeologist--607 BCE. That date is foundational to the “Bible Chronology” of that religious organization, but if it is wrong, the chronology is wrong, and if the chronology is wrong, the theology is wrong! And the date is simply. . . wrong!
       More recently I had to spend a day in Salt Lake City due to a technical problem in a plane I was traveling from New York to Portland, Ore., and I decided to take advantage of the delayed flight to take a tour of the famous world center of Mormonism. One of the places we visited was the Genealogy Institute, a building full of computers and a body of workers dedicated to investigate people’s forefathers, so that baptisms are performed in their behalf. The investment in construction, equipment and personnel is really immense, and all that is based on a text that is not sufficiently clear in the Bible--1 Cor. 15:29 (“. . . if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead?. . .”).
       Without entering into the details about these wrong basic teachings, the fact is that Mr. Ratzlaff also has all his theology twisted because of a similar false premise--the notion that under the “grace and love” period, the New Covenant, there is a certain “law of Christ”, more user-friendly to the believer, that excludes the 10 Commandments, which are replaced by a sort of “Rule of Nine Commandments and One Suggestion”. It’s funny that the 10 Commandments are seen as nailed to the cross with all ceremonies of Judaism, but out of these 10, NINE remained intact after this “complete abolition” of the law. There are even those who emphasize that only nine of the 10 are repeated in the New Testament, with the Sabbath not being done so.
       Well, we have other questions regarding that to Mr. Ratzlaff:

* when Jesus proclaimed the “golden rule” of only two commandments--love to God above everything and love to the neighbor as oneself--was He really creating something new, revolutionary, in terms of rule for His followers’ conduct (see Matt. 22:36-40)?

* if the answer is yes, why did the scribe who clearly wanted to trap Him in a question that would cause Jesus to contradict Israel’s traditions end up complimenting the Master’s answer, instead of finding fault in it (see Mar. 12:28-34)?

      So, the false premise of Mr. Ratzlaff theology is to take this “golden rule” as a SUBSTITUTE of God’s moral law, when it is simply its SYNTHESIS, or a summary of the whole law. He mistakes the thing arguing that now there is only a “law of Christ” based on love to be fulfilled by the Christian. But Jesus was just reiterating what Moses had already said, for God’s law ALWAYS had as its basic principles “love to God above all else” and “love to the neighbor”. There was nothing new, no novelty, in Christ’s statement, as we already saw in Matt. 5:17-19. He is referring to the SAME complete Torah, the law that includes the ceremonial part, indeed.
       The summaries don’t override the originals. We can see that in the “Abstracts” that precede scientific articles, whose objective is to highlight the main points of the study so that whoever read them gets his/her attention called to a subject he/she might be interested in, and thus is led to the more profound presentation in the complete material.
       Then, why don’t we perform the circumcision and all the other rituals of the Judaic law? The answer is very simple, and is found in Matthew 27:50, 51:

       “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom”.

       In due time, the Christian community understood that all ceremonial aspects of the Jewish law were no more required of the followers of the Messiah, but its moral aspects could not find the same end, for that would mean complete chaos, at both individual and corporate levels. Imagine that such rules as “you shall not kill”, “you shall not steal”, “you shall not commit adultery” came to an end when the Temple’s veil was rent from top to bottom. . .
      All that brings us to the BOTTOM LINE of all this discussion--the notion that the Sabbath commandment was abolished because it pointed to the rest in Christ. So, He is our “rest”, and the believers are thus freed from any obligation of dedicating a day do the Lord.
        Well, we have a very objective Bible study showing the error of such reasoning--“Ten Reasons Why the Sabbath is Not a Ceremonial Precept”. We invite Mr. Ratzlaff to check it through the following link:


        At this juncture, another of our studies would be very appropriate to be examined: “10 Reasons Why the Sabbath is the Most Important Commandment of the Decalogue”. The same link indicated above leads directly to it. Take advantage of your visit to that page and also see the following articles:

- 10 Questions The Anti-Sabbatarians Seem Incapable of Answering
- 10 Questions on the Subject of the Law of God/Law of Christ
- 10 Questions About the Sabbath for Anti-Sabbatarians to Think Seriously About
- 10 Questions on the Theory of “Everydayism”
- 10 Serious Difficulties For the Advocates of Either Sunday Keeping or the “Nodayism/Anydayism/Everydayism”
- 10 Questions on Christ’s Attitudes Regarding the Sabbath


       A final question to Mr. Ratzlaff:

* if Jesus is our Sabbath rest, and Hebrews 4 shows it, so that we don’t have to keep a day of rest, why the holy women who served Him so closely, having reached the spiritual rest of salvation, didn’t, because of that, neglect keeping “the Sabbath according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56)?

       Later on we will have some more food for thought to Mr. Ratzlaff. Let's see if and how he will answer our questions. . .

« Last Edit: March 18, 2008, 06:18:24 AM by Azenilto Brito »
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Johann

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Re: 10 Surprises for Adherents of Semi-Antinomian Theology
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2008, 05:25:51 AM »

Azenilto,

I find it both interesting and inspirational to read your personal testimony. I'm certain you are also presenting this elsewhere in order to get a response. Hope you will let us know here how things are going.
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Azenilto Brito

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Re: 10 Surprises for Adherents of Semi-Antinomian Theology
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2008, 04:03:38 PM »

Azenilto,

I find it both interesting and inspirational to read your personal testimony. I'm certain you are also presenting this elsewhere in order to get a response. Hope you will let us know here how things are going.

Yes, brother

This material has reached over 10 forums, 4 being in Spanish. I have a hard time to translate everything (and what I put here is just a fraction of the entire discussions) into Spanish, which is not my native language but I master as well.

Also, I publicize the material among Portuguese-language readers because normally whoever can read Portuguese can read a text in Spanish (at least people with a high-school training level). So, you see that the material has had good repercussions.

I hope that SDA's, especially those who know someone who have been under the influence of this "New Covenant" theology, profit from it, and even others can study the material, copy to distribute to others in the church, so that we can face this challenge of these people who brag having about 30,000 addresses they send their magazine to.

I hope and pray that God will guide sincere people to understand the issues and challenges.

« Last Edit: March 19, 2008, 09:20:22 PM by Azenilto Brito »
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Azenilto Brito

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Re: 10 Surprises for Adherents of Semi-Antinomian Theology
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2008, 06:38:46 PM »


Are Seventh-day Adventists Afraid of Galatians?

       The last edition of Proclamation! Magazine (Jan./Feb. 2008) brings a collection of more stories of disgruntled and/or disoriented Seventh-day Adventists who give their “testimonies” of how they “discovered freedom” (which means normally freedom from having to keep a Sabbath day and to care for the dietary laws, never referring in that sense to any of the other NINE commandments of the same law the Sabbath principle is part of).
       But there is an article by ex-SDA professor Desmond Ford about his favorite subject, which is the Sanctuary doctrine, in which he criticizes the traditional SDA position without offering any better solution to the problems that Dan. 8:14 would present. He himself, in his thick book about his discussions on the matter, recognizes that this is one of the most difficult texts in the Bible for due interpretation. But it seems that the solution to the problems, which he doesn’t offer in the article, didn’t attract the attention of other scholars also preoccupied with the verse, so his simply criticizing doesn’t prove constructive at all. No real contribution for the “ideal” interpretation of this text, stemming from his “rebellion”, has led the Bible scholarship to adopt it, that I know of.
      Well, the work of criticizing, destroying, defaming is always much easier than to build something better.
       Anyway, in a final footnote, Mr. Ford and his wife Gillian are introduced as “sabbatarians”. That is interesting. . . So, Ford (who has authored very good material, even a whole book, defending the Sabbath institution), is used by Ratzlaff when what he says is convenient to him, but how about to suggest that his articles on the Sabbath and the validity of the Ten Commandments as the norm of Christian conduct be also used in future Proclamation! issues?
       Now, let’s analyze one of these testimonies by former Adventists, like one authored by a certain Royce Earp. At certain point he presents this allegation:

       What I read in Galatians changed my life. As an Adventist I had always believed that the commandments had been in place before the earth was made and that we are still under the law. But in Galatians Paul very clearly states that the law was given 430 years after the promise given to Abraham (Gal. 3:17), and he says that the law was put into place until the seed (Jesus) had come (Gal. 3:19). In Gal 3:19 he even says why the law was put into place; “It was added because of transgression.” If Paul were here today he might say, “You foolish Adventists! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, of by believing what you heard? . . . Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?”

       This man is either very misinformed about the SDA official teachings, or very forgetful of what he learned along his years as a Seventh-day Adventist. Or, else, he knows the truth about our real teachings and sentiments about these matters but isn’t interested in what that is, for it would be an “inconvenient truth” to him. Well, it the latter is the case, then we have another situation of regrettable intellectual dishonesty on his part, as we see so often among critics of Seventh-day Adventism, those whom the Baptist apologist Walter Martin called “straw analysts”.
       Now, if the Apostle Paul were here today, he wouldn’t be so concerned about what Seventh-day Adventists teach regarding this subject of law and grace, because if he had to criticize us regarding that, there would be lots of important Evangelical/Protestant scholars along the history of the Protestant Movement he would have to confront in the same fashion as imagined by this confused former SDA.
        A little further down he continues showing his ignorance of not only SDA doctrine, but of what is taught by important instructors and thought-forming Christian leaders and pioneers. We have already seen some of these. Says he additionally:

       The Adventists teach that the law is separated into ceremonial, civil, and moral laws, and this artificial division is the reason they keep some of the law and not all of it. Once again Paul is very clear about these issues. First, he says in Eph. 2:15 that the law is the commandments and regulations. (. . . by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations). He does not separate the law into three divisions. Second, he repeats Moses’ words in Deuteronomy when he says in Gal. 3:10, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law”. So on what authority do Ellen White and the Adventists say that they can decide to keep only part of the law? I even did a Bible search on the computer looking for the words ceremonial, civil, and moral followed by the word law. They are non-existent.

       Well, the Unitarians could use the same computer resource to look for such words as Trinity, personality of the Holy Spirit and not finding any of them, thus thinking of refuting our Trinitarian convictions. And how about such words so often used in religious material, such as theocracy, omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, millennium? They are all absent from the Bible . . . Besides,    Mr. Earp ignores that much before SDA’s began preaching the gospel as an organized church, the “division of the law” was already normally taught by the Reformers. Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and, later, Wesley clearly spoke of “moral law” and “ceremonial law”. And that is clearly thus defined in the Westminster Confession of Faith (of 1647), the Baptist Confession of Faith (of 1689, later revised by Charles Spurgeon in 1855 with small changes), the 39 Articles of Religion of the Church of England (official confessional document of Anglicans and Methodists, issued in 1571) and practically all the most important Bible commentaries authors, such as Albert Barnes, Matthew Henry, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, et alii.
       But since he mentions Galatians, giving the impression that Seventh-day Adventists teach it wrong, or neglect even reading it, how about analyzing the important text Gal 3:24, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith”.

       Let’s start with John Calvin’s commentary regarding that text and its immediate context:

       . . . for what end did sacrifices and washings serve but to keep the mind continually fixed on pollution and condemnation? When a man’s uncleanness is placed before his eyes, when the unoffending animal is held forth as the image of his own death, how can he indulge in sleep? How can he but be roused to the earnest cry for deliverance? Beyond all doubt, ceremonies accomplished their object, not merely by alarming and humbling the conscience, but by exciting them to the faith of the coming Redeemer. In the imposing services of the Mosaic ritual, every thing that was presented to the eye bore an impress of Christ. The law, in short, was nothing else than an immense variety of exercises, in which the worshippers were led by the hand to Christ.

       That we might be justified by faith. He has already said that the law is not perfect, when he compared it to the training of childhood; but it would make men perfect if it bestowed upon them righteousness. What remains but that faith shall take its place? And so it does, when we, who are destitute of a righteousness of our own, are clothed by it with the righteousness of Christ. Thus is the saying accomplished, “he hath filled the hungry with good things.” (Luke 1:53.)

       25. But after that faith is come. This phrase has been already considered. It denotes the brighter revelation of grace after that “the vail of the temple was rent in twain,” (Matthew 27:51,) which, we know, was effected by the manifestation of Christ. He affirms that, under the reign of Christ, there is no longer any childhood which needs to be placed under a schoolmaster, and that, consequently, the law has resigned its office, — which is another application of the comparison. There were two things which he had undertaken to prove, — that the law is a preparation for Christ, and that it is temporal. But here the question is again put, Is the law so abolished that we have nothing to do with it? I answer, the law, so far as it is a rule of life, a bridle to keep us in the fear of the Lord, a spur to correct the sluggishness of our flesh, — so far, in short, as it is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that believers may be instructed in every good work,” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17,)— is as much in force as ever, and remains untouched.
       In what respect, then, is it abolished? Paul, we have said, looks at the law as possessing certain qualities, and those qualities we shall enumerate. It annexes to works a reward and a punishment; that is, it promises life to those who keep it, and curses all transgressors. Meanwhile, it requires from man the highest perfection and most exact obedience. It makes no abatement, gives no pardon, but calls to a severe reckoning the smallest offenses. It does not openly exhibit Christ and his grace, but points him out at a distance, and only when hidden by the covering of ceremonies. All such qualities of the law, Paul tells us, are abolished; so that the office of Moses is now at an end, so far as it differs in outward aspect from a covenant of grace.
-- Underlined highlights added.

Source: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom41.iii.v.vi.html

And let’s see some of other Bible commentaries regarding this subject:

Albert Barnes:


       The Law performs the office of the ancient pedagogue, to lead us to the teacher or the instructor. That teacher or instructor is Christ. The ways in which the Law does this may be the following:
       (1) It restrains us and rebukes us, and keeps us as the ancient pedagogue did his boys.
       (2) The whole law was designed to be introductory to Christ. The sacrifices and offerings were designed to shadow forth the Messiah, and to introduce him to the world.
       (3) The moral law - the Law of God - shows people their sin and danger, and thus leads them to the Saviour. It condemns them, and thus prepares them to welcome the offer of pardon through a Redeemer.
       (4) It still does this. The whole economy of the Jews was designed to do this and under the preaching of the gospel it is still done. People see that they are condemned; they are convinced by the Law that they cannot save themselves, and thus they are led to the Redeemer. The effect of the preached gospel is to show people their sins, and thus to be preparatory to the embracing of the offer of pardon. Hence, the importance of preaching the Law still; and hence, it is needful that people should be made to feel that they are sinners, in order that they may be prepared to embrace the offers of mercy. . .


John Wesley:


       [The law] was designed to train us up for Christ. And this it did both by its commands, which showed the need we had of his atonement; and its ceremonies, which all pointed us to him.


Matthew Henry:


       . . .  the terrors of the law are often used by the convincing Spirit, to show the sinner his need of Christ, to bring him to rely on his sufferings and merits, that he may be justified by faith. Then the law, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, becomes his loved rule of duty, and his standard for daily self-examination. In this use of it he learns to depend more simply on the Saviour. 


       This latter comment is in good harmony with Luther’s reasoning in his classical “Treatise Against the Antinomians”, where he not only calls the 10 Commandments “God’s Law” in its first lines, as asserts the importance of preaching the law to lead people to repentance, after presenting his protest against some who implied he had rejected the Ten Commandments as a Christian rule of conduct.
       Certain phrases in italics [but for book titles] and bold in the original where all made as normal type; also the interspersed footnote numbers within the text were not included:


       “I wonder exceedingly, how it came to be imputed to me, that I should reject the Law or ten Commandments, there being extant so many of my own expositions (and those of several sorts) upon the Commandments, which also are daily expounded, and used in our Churches, to say nothing of the Confession and Apology, and other books of ours. Add hereunto the custom we have to sing the Commandments in two different tunes; besides the painting, printing, carving, and rehearsing them by children, both morning, noon, and evening; So that I know no other way than what we have used, but that we do not (alas!) as we ought, really express and delineate them in our lives and conversations. And I myself as old as I am, use to [have it for my custom to] recite them daily, as a child, Word for Word; so that if any should have mistaken, what I had written, he might (seeing and feeling as it were, how vehemently I use to urge these Catechetical exercises) in reason have been persuaded to call upon me, and demand these or the like questions. What? Good Doctor Luther, dost thou press so eagerly the ten Commandments, and yet teachest withal, that they must be rejected? . . .


[To be concluded in the next thread]

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Azenilto Brito

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Re: 10 Surprises for Adherents of Semi-Antinomian Theology
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2008, 06:39:37 PM »


[Conclusion of previous thread]


        “Verily, I have taught and still teach, that sinners must be moved to Repentance by the preaching & pondering of the sufferings of Christ, that they may see how great the wrath of God is against sin: and that it cannot be otherwise expiated but by the death of the son of God. . . . But how doth it hence follow, that therefore the law must be taken away? I find no such inference in my Logick; and I would gladly see or hear that Logician, that would demonstrate the truth of this conclusion. When Isaias saith, chapter 53, I have smitten him for the sins of my people; I pray tell me; here Christ’s sufferings are preached, that he was smitten for our sins: Is the Law hereby rejected? what is the meaning of these words: For the sins of my people? Is not this the sense of them: Because my people have sinned against my law, and not kept the same? Or can it be imaginable, that there should be any sin, where there is no law? Whosoever abrogates the law, must of necessity abrogate sin also. If he must suffer sin to be, he must much more suffer the being of the law. For the Apostle saith: Rom. 5: Where no law is, there is no sin. If there be no sin, then Christ is nothing. For why died he, if there were no law nor sin, for which he ought to die? Hence you may see, that the Devil intends, by this Ghostly Gambold to take away, not so much the law, as Christ, the fulfiller of the law.
       “For he knows too well, that Christ may quickly & lightly be forgotten: but the law being engraven in the bottom of the heart, it is impossible to raze it out, as you may observe in the complaints, which are uttered by the blessed Saints of God in the Psalms, that are not able to undergo the wrath of God: which can be nothing else by the lively preaching of the law in their consciences.


The preaching of the Law necessary both before & after conversion

       Let me therefore beseech you (Good Mr. Doctor) to continue, as hitherto you have, in the pure doctrine, and to preach, that sinners can, and must, be drawn to Repentance, not only by the sweetness of grace, that Christ suffered and died for us, but also by the terrors of the Law. For when they pretend, that we must follow but one kind of Method in teaching the Doctrine of Repentance (to wit, that Christ suffered for us) lest all Christendom should deviate from the true and only way; this is little to the purpose. For it is our duty to improve all manner of means (such as are divine Menaces, Promises, Punishments, Blessings, and whatever helps we can) to bring men to Repentance: I mean, by all the Precedents in the word, to bring them to the acknowledgment of sin, and of the Law.


The Law preached with Christ’s sufferings, for the preaching thereof, terrifieth more

       I conclude therefore, that the Law, will we, nill we, must be preached, if we mean to preach Christ, though we should not use the word Law. For, do what you can, the conscience will be terrified by the Law, when it is told, that Christ was to fulfill the Law for us, at so dear a rate. Why therefore should any go about to abolish it, when it cannot be abolished? Yea, when by the abolition of it, it is the more firmly established, and deeper rooted? For the Law terrifies far more dreadfully, when I am told, that Christ the Son of God must necessarily satisfy the same for me, than if without Christ, and such great torments of the Son of God, it had been preached to me, with bare threatenings. For in the Son of God, I really see the wrath of God, which the Law declares but verbally, and with far less operation and efficacy.


       Luther additionally comments in the same document about the many sectarians he had to confront along his experience as a Reformer, highlighting the “antinomians”.
       In the footnotes, the compiler adds an interesting information (note 4):  “Contrary to this, Towne the Antinomian saith we are freed from the Moral Law or Decalogue, with all its authority, dominion, offices, and effects. So [likewise] Saltmarsh, free grace, p. 140”.
       The first note in the footnotes by the editor explains:


       “This edition of Luther’s treatise ‘Against the Antinomians,’ is excerpted from Samuel Rutherford’s ‘Survey of the Spiritual Antichrist,’ (1648), part II, chapter XI, pages 69-80, where it is translated from the High Dutch in its entirety. The reader may wish to compare the text to a more recent translation available in Luther’s Works (American Edition), volume 47, pages 107-119, the text of which he will find to be in agreement with that which is provided here. Underlined headings are marginalia provided in Rutherford’s ‘Survey of the Spiritual Antichrist,’ whereby he seeks to direct the reader to make applications and comparisons with regards to the Antinomians of his own day, which are no less relevant at the present time. All footnotes are provided by Rutherford, saving only numbers 1, 2, and 10, provided by the present editor.”


      Oh, by the way, the 430 years later (when the law was given at Sinai, after the Abrahamic pact)—Gal. 3:17—doesn’t mean that there was no God’s law before these four hundred something years, for even Abraham was a faithful and obedient servant of God’s laws, statutes and commandments (Gen. 26:5). As a Bible Moody Institute scholar explains:


       “We should not suppose that the Ten Commandments were entirely new enactments when they were proclaimed from Sinai, for the Hebrew word torah is used in such previous passages of the Old Testament as Genesis 26:5; Exodus 12:49; Genesis 35:2 and 13:9; 16:4, 28; 18:16. [Genesis 4:26; 14:22; 31:53 are cited for the principle of the third; Genesis 2:3 and Exodus 16:22-30 for the fourth; Genesis 9:6, for the sixth; and Genesis 2:24 for the seventh.] The Decalogue may therefore be regarded as the full and solemn declaration of duties which had been more or less revealed previously, and this public enunciation took place under absolutely unique circumstances. We are told that the ‘ten words’ were spoken by God’s own voice (Exod. 20:1; Deut. 5:4, 22-26); and twice afterwards ‘written on tables of stones with the finger of God’ (Exod. 24:12; 31:18; 32:16; 34:1; 28; Deut. 4:13; 5:22; 9:10; 10:1-4), thus appealing alike to the ear and eye, and emphasizing both their supreme importance and permanent obligation”. – William C. Procter, Moody Bible Institute Monthly, October 1933, p. 49.  [As quoted in Bible Readings for the Home, Mountain View, Cal, Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1967, p. 283].


       What Paul is saying is that the promise of the pact with Abraham at the beginning of the promise made to him, up to the time of the law’s solemn proclamation at Sinai--to serve as basis of this covenant extended to Israel--there is a span of 430 years, and this establishment of the Sinai covenant doesn’t annul the promise made to the patriarch. On the contrary, it is the natural development of God’s plan to have the Messiah coming through his seed.
       As to the question of salvation by faith, nothing changed, for Israel also was saved through faith in the coming Messiah, as the offerings and other rites instituted at the Sinai covenant had the purpose of pointing forward to.
       Now, one more point within the epistle of Galatians, that some people think is a “torture” to Seventh-day Adventists. Everybody knows how the phrase “under the law” is often used negatively to characterize those who defend the observance of the Sabbath commandment. Now, how about a brief analysis of this expression, as we find it in the Galatians epistle? Let’s see how Paul articulates this question in Gal. 5:16-25:

    “I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that,  ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit”.


       What do you have here? A contrast between those who are “led by the Spirit” and the ones who are “under the law”. Now, whoever is “led by the Spirit” produces those fruits listed in vs. 22ff. In contrast, those who are NOT “led by the Spirit” do what? They are the people who practice all those sins listed in vs. 19-21. Then, contrary to the common interpretation of anti-sabbatarians, those who are “under the law” ARE NOT the ones who obey it, but, those who commit sin. They are “under the law” in the sense that it condemns them.
       Now, when we compare that with what we read in Rom. 8:3-8, what do we find there? The language is very similar: the ones who are not led by the Spirit are those who live according to the flesh. Then, we read in vs. 8 and 9:

       “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God”.


       The language of “NOT subject to the law of God” is clearly related to sinners, not to those who obey the law. The latter are contrasted with the ones who live according to the flesh, not led by the Spirit. For these last ones are those who display in their lives,  “the righteousness of the law”, because they “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (vs. 4).
       And what “law of God” would that be, but the one that in the context Paul himself identified as that he served with his mind (Rom. 7:25), and the one (holy, just, good, spiritual—vs. 12, 14, 22) that brings the precept “ye shall not covet”—vs. 7, 8?
       Thus, in harmony with Romans, the  clear message in Galatians 5:16-22 is in perfect agreement with our teachings regarding obedience to the law of God, so why should Seventh-day Adventist fear to read and base their faith on what Paul has to teach us in his epistle to the Galatians?

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Azenilto Brito

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Re: 10 Surprises for Adherents of Semi-Antinomian Theology
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2008, 02:13:41 PM »



Hello friends

       I was checking a past Newsletter by Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi with his analyses of the Ratzlaff challenge and found something really precious--a synthesis of his theology with his comments regarding four main points. What he argues is compatible to my own analyses in the threads above, which shows that even a non-scholar like myself can refute easily Mr. Ratzlaff's “New Covenant” ideas.
       I reproduce it below with my own “Notes” added:


Four Fundamental Problems of the New Covenant Theology

1. The New Covenant Theology creates an arbitrary and radical distinction between the Old Covenant, allegedly based on a package of laws given by Moses, and New Covenant established on the principles of love revealed by Christ. Such a distinction is nowhere to be found in the Bible. The New Covenant in the Bible, which incidentally is first given in the Old Testament, does not entail the replacement of laws with a generic principle of love, but the internalization of God’s Law: “This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my Law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God” (Jer 31:33). There is no antithesis in the Bible between law and love, because God’s laws are principles of love.

Note: There has never been a time when a law given by God WAS NOT based on the principle of love to God above all else, and love to the neighbor as to oneself. Didn’t the rebel angel start the sin process through a distortion of these principles, loving himself above God and his neighbors?

2. The New Covenant Theology fails to recognize the simple fact the biblical “covenant” is God’s commitment to save His people. And God has only one Plan of Salvation. God did not offer salvation to the Jews on the basis of works of the law and when He discovered that works do not work, He changed his plan and decided to offer salvation to Christians on the basis of grace. Salvation has always been a divine provision of grace. When Moses went up on Mt. Sinai, he received on the hand the Decalogue—God’s principles of life, and on the other hand, the blueprint of the tabernacle—God’s provision of grace (Ex 24:12 to 25:9).

Note: I’ve seen some embarrassing situations when the question is asked: how were sinners saved in Old Testament times? Some answer—”oh, they were saved by faithful obedience to the law” (which is an impossibility because “the law of the Lord is perfect”—Psa. 19:17—and nobody ever reached a condition of full perfection to correspond to the requirements of the law in his life). Others even said, “Well, Jesus went to preach to the ‘spirits in prison’” (which is a total distortion of meaning of some isolated texts).

Now, there was a certain gentleman I used to debate with, who replied: “Oh, there haven’t been judged yet”. Well, this prompts another question, that I addressed him: “And when they come to be judged, by what criteria that will be?”
He didn’t answer. The next day I again asked the same question. No answer. Later on I insisted with the same question. No word from him. Once more my question was put to him, “what criteria will be used for their judgment”, total silence. . .

Finally, after some few more times with the same enquiry, he decided to answer. And his answer was this: he called a friend of his who worked for the Immigration Dept. in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and asked him to investigate whether I was illegally in the USA.

No kidding, that was his answer. . .

By the way, I am an American citizen since the 15th of December, 2006.

3. The New Covenant Theology ignores the cosmic sweep of the Sabbath, which embraces creation, redemption, and final restoration. Incidentally, the Pope recognizes this fact when he speaks of the Sabbath as marking the “sacred architecture of time” [in the Pastoral Letter, Domini Dies—The Lord’s Day] that reveals the unfolding of salvation history from creation to its final restoration. It is noteworthy that while Hebrews declares the Levitical priesthood and services as “abolished” (Heb 10:9), “obsolete,” and “ready to vanish away” (Heb 8:13), it explicitly teaches that a “Sabbathkeeping [sabbatismos] has been left behind for the people of God” (Heb 4:9). Why? Because the Sabbath point to the eternal rest and peace that awaits the people of God.

Note: In Heb. 3 and 4 the author NEVER leaves any hint that the Sabbath would be a typological institution that should end after accomplishing its symbolic role. That it couldn’t be so we see for some few reasons:

a) the emphasis on the Sabbath’s role in Scripture is being a “memorial of Creation”, which is not related to Israel, but to humankind;

b) Jesus reinforced this universal role of the Sabbath as He said it was made “because of man”;

c) this universality of the Sabbath principle is a fact recognized by the most representative Christian confessional documents, authors and Bible commentaries;

d) if the Sabbath were ceremonial, the author of Hebrews would discuss it in Chaps. 7-10 where he details the typological meaning of the different aspects of the Jewish law;

e) those few in Israel who were faithful and entered the spiritual rest of salvation—like Moses, Joshua, David, Elias, etc., etc.—didn’t because of that renounce to the keeping of the Sabbath;

f) the faithful women who served Jesus and who had entered in the rest of salvation, soon after His death kept the Sabbath “according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56), which shows that they hadn’t learned with Jesus that the Sabbath was no more to be kept with His death, nor that to believe in Him and faithful serving Him released them from that obligation;

g)  in the description of the condition of Israel IN CASE OF HAVING ACCEPTED THE MESSIAH, thus having entered in the spiritual rest of salvation, as found in Isa. 66:22, 23, the Sabbath is still honored as a special day weekly dedicated to God, not put aside.

4. By replacing the physical rest of the Sabbath with the spiritual rest of salvation, the New Covenant Theology deprives believers of a vital institution established by God to internalize the reality of salvation. The physical Sabbath rest is the channel through which we experience the reality of the spiritual salvation rest (Heb 4:10). Physical symbols like the water of baptism, the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper, and the physical rest of the Sabbath, are designed to help believers conceptualize and internalize the reality of salvation they represent. We stop our work on the Sabbath to allow God to work in us more fully and freely.

Note: Everybody knows how important it is to have regular rest, and even a medical doctor, who happens also to be an Evangelical pastor, Dr. Michael Cesar, considers the Sabbath rest a divine blessing for the wellness of His children.  He even tells how Hitler tried to break this principle having those who built his arsenal, previous to the 2nd World War, having them working non-stop seven days a week, just resting at night. It didn’t work—they were soon exhausted, sick, production fell brutally, then the Führer reinstated the principle of one day of rest weekly.

Especially in these so much agitated times of ours, the physical and mental rest granted by the Sabbath is so much needed by everyone. Besides, if there is this “Christian freedom” to not keep the Sabbath, someone could even neglect that and harm, even kill, himself due to an excessive workload. Is that okay, when the Bible says that our body is the “temple of the Holy Spirit”?


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