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Do We Keep the Law or Wash our Robes? — 92 Comments

  1. Has anyone heard people(us) saying that we cannot keep or obey the laws of the the land---city ordinances, US constitution, traffic laws, etc. Do governments empower citizens to obey their laws? Isn't it true that God enables and empowers His children to keep and obey His commandments as citizens of His kingdom. We love you, LORD.

    • When someone tells me that they cannot obey God's commandments I simply ask them to please explain Phil.4:13.This text says that I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me and that includes obeying all God's commandments.God is never unfair and He would never ask us to do anything that He knows we cannot do.Through the power of God in us we can be obedient to Him.

      • Because some would have used this excuse, that is why God, the Father, sent His Son who came and lived His life as an example for us to follow. If He kept the law, which is His Father's character, why won't we follow in His footsteps? Was He legalistic in obeying the law? If we Love Him, we will keep His commandments out of love and because it is His character, which is not cheap grace where one continues in sin while claiming to have been saved once and always.

      • I had to go back and reread Indi's comment and do the same to mine. I ended up asking myself "what was the point that Indi was making?" Was it that "laws and obedience are a logical part of life?"

        Maybe it was that if we obey government laws without additional help then why couldn't we do the same with God's laws especially when He "enables and empowers" us to do so? To me the question is really about those who say we can't keep God's laws and Indi uses obedience to government laws to make his point.

        Certainly we can't keep God's law on our own (Jer 13:23; Rom 8:7; Jn 15:5) but what does that have to do with your article? What's the point here?

        • Indi can correct me if I am wrong, but Tyler the point I simply got was that no one says the laws of the land are done away with so why do people say the laws of God are? And yes Indi says it is with God's help we keep His laws. I imagine God also helps us keep the laws of the land as well, with exception of course to the ones that contradict His law.

    • Well said Tyler, God is interested in the heart, and its final destiny, while the government laws are not,to some degree. Thats why our righteousness must exceed that of the Scribes and the Pharisees. (Mathew 5:20). Biblically, they are righteous yes, but its not the kind that is acceptable before God, neither can it lead them into the Kingdom.

    • Great point Indi, we are expected to keep the laws of the land (in fact, penalized if we disobey them) yet I never hear anyone say, 'we cannot keep these laws/we should not keep these laws'. People are encouraged to keep the laws of the land, and as you say, without any help/assistance to do so from this earthly kingdom. The Holy Spirit in God's kingdom will be our help to keep the commandments. We need not worry. I like this kind of kingdom that empowers it's citizens to obey, and then ultimately rewards them for doing so.

  2. I'm sure that it was not the author's intention here to start a Bible translation war, however this does deserve a reply.

    The fact there are 2 alternatives demands an answer - one has to be right and the other wrong. Logic tells us this.

    In the Greek wash their robes and keep the commandments are very similar (plunontes tas stoles vs poiountes tas entolas) so it's not hard to see where the problem lies.

    However, most people who get into arguments about Bible translations cannot read Greek and have not seen what the Bible says in Greek. When you see these issues play out in the Greek you realise that there actually is a problem and there is an argument to sort out. I recommend reading a bit of John William Burgon. It's a hard slog, as he is very verbose and is antithetical to the "short, point form" we prefer today, however he shows EXACTLY what is happening in the Greek and why the Greek New Testament that the newer translations are translated from are of poor quality and corrupt.

    For example, in the Greek it is common to have many words in a row that end in "oi". Possibly even 5 or 6 words in a row ending in oi. Considering that often the old manuscripts were written without spaces between words, it can be shown that sometimes a careless copyist, when encountering such a set of words, lost his place and wrote essentially nonsense. Now, the manuscripts that the newer translations are based on are full of such copyist errors which, which also serve to create semi-meaningless sentences or sentences with poor grammar, that then have to be "massaged" by translators in order to actually say something.

    The issue is truly greater than many appreciate. So, let's not minimise it by saying that both wash their robes and keep the commandments are correct. Wash their robes is vague. You could make it mean something if you want, but it really doesn't mean much in this context.

    I'm not suggesting the KJV is the best or the only correct translation. But it is a mediocre to average translation (albeit with wonderful English) from far better originals, so the determined Bible student can dig for the better translation if he/she so chooses.

    • Leo you are right. I don't want to start a war on Bible translations, but I published your comment because I do believe it is valid and answers some questions that need to be answered, so we can move on to the main point of discussion. Thank you for sharing this. Again, as you already know I do not feel as strongly as you do that it is saying two different things. 1 John 1:9 promises for Jesus to cleanse us from sin, meaning to sanctify and make us obedient just as much as forgive us. So those who have washed their robes, to me, have been made clean and obedient. Even the KJV uses the phrase "washed their robes" in Revelation 7:14 when describing those who have the seal of God and obey His law. While various Bible versions may be more or less accurate translations in different areas, I get the sense from every version I have read, that it is indeed possible to live a victorious and obedient life by the power Christ imparts. That is the point of my post and this discussion. Thanks at the same time for addressing what was basically an elephant in the room, so we can all move on to the regular discussion now.

      • If you are studying with someone who's Bible has the "washed their robes," here is a verse you can share that illustrates that those who are washed or cleansed are actually made holy.

        "Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." 1 Corinthians 6:11

        When Jesus was on the cross they drew a spear into his side and out flowed water and blood. The blood was for forgiveness and justification. The water was for cleansing and sanctification. To me, whenever I see washing or cleansing in the Bible I see sanctification and obedience as illustrated in this verse.

    • For clarification -- some technical points: Basically, the difference in translation in Rev 22:14 between "do/keep ... commandments" and "wash ... robes" goes back to the difference between the Egyptian and Byzantine textforms. Namely, all the Egyptian texts read plunontes tas stolas, which must be translated "wash ... robes" while the Byzantine texts read poiuntes tas entolas, which must be translated "do/keep ... commandments."

      Why the difference? The answer, I think, goes back to a scribal error at a very early time, when the letters of the Greek alphabet were in the form of Uncials, rather like our capitals. Unfortunately, I don't know any easy way to incorporate the Greek alphabet in a forum such as this, so I will have to describe them.

      Note that in Greek "commandments" begins with the Epsilon, while "robes" begins with the Sigma. In the old uncial forms, there is very little difference between the two letters, about as much as between C and G in the Latin alphabet, so just a slight smearing could convert the word entolas into the word stolas.

      There is also considerable similarity between the word poiountes "do/keep" and the word "plunontes "wash" -- close enough that a scribe trying to make sense of "robes" in this context would likely choose to complete the phrase with "wash" rather than "do." This change is helped along by reference to Rev. 7:14, where the phrase reads plunontes tas stolas, "wash ... robes."

      A scribe struggling to interpret a smeared manuscript of Rev. 22:14, would naturally refer to the phrase in Rev 7:14 for resolution. This is a common linguistic process, called by the Germans Analogiebildung, which may be translated into English as "construction by analogy." The primary application is in tracking changes in grammar forms over time, but it applies also to resolution of ambiguities in manuscripts.

      So which version do we choose, the Egyption or the Byzantine? The Byzantine was the text of choice up until about 1900, while most translations after 1900 follow the Egyption text, based largely on Tischendorf's editing of various Egyptian manuscripts which were older than the olderst available Byzantine manuscripts, following the established German paleo-linguistic theory that the older manuscript is always closer to the autograph. I find that reasoning faulty in the choice between the Egyptian and Byzantine NT texts for many reasons, which I won't try to get into here, only to mention that I think the most reliable NT Greek text available at the present time is the Byzantine Majority text edited by Maurice A. Robinson and William G. Pierpont, which is in the public domain and may be found online.

      Beyond the linguistics, I find that a close reading of the context will show that the entire chapter 22 is about the rewards of keeping the commandments, while the context of chapter 7 is about having pure robes. There is a difference. I therefore find the correct translation of Rev. 22:14 to be: "do/keep ... commandments."

      • Ben Tupper - Your comment: "following the established German paleo-linguistic theory that the older manuscript is always closer to the autograph. I find that reasoning faulty in the choice between the Egyptian and Byzantine NT texts for many reasons"

        ...is there anywhere i can go to get your thinking on this. I am a novice but am half way reading 'Which Greek Text'? by Charles L. Surrett.

        Do you know if his thinking is similar to yours and/or where i can go to get more understanding on why the Byzantine texts (textus receptus - king james) might be superior to Wescott and Horte /|Nestle Alland texts based more on Alexandrian texts (i think im right in saying).

        • Hi Julie,

          Ben Tupper passed away about 3 years ago, sadly. He was a good personal friend of mine and I miss my discussions with him. He is one of the Sabbath School Net commenters that I have met personally and although we only spent a few hours together we became good friends and corresponded for years. I still have a heap of bird photographs I wanted to share with him.

          He was a specialist in ancient languages and could always give interesting accounts of ancient language linguistics. We miss his contributions to SSNET.

  3. I agree with William that when we accept the righteousness of Christ on our behalf (wash our robes in His blood), we will naturally keep His commandments. In fact it is not possible to truly keep the commandments without accepting His righteousness.

    There are good arguments for both translations, but it is not worth entering into them because both translations express essential Bible truth. Herman of BibleDifferences.net argues persuasively for the "washed robes" version at "Robes wash or Commandments do?" (Rev 22:14) He includes the actual Greek text for the two versions, demonstrating how easy it is to read the same text one way or the other.

    An author on BibleExplained.com argues for the "keep the commandments" version on literary grounds. Literary Structure Supports "Do His Commandments" for Revelation 22:14 (Significantly this is an Adventist site.)

    These articles are but the tip of the iceberg, and it is possible to find much more scholarly articles supporting both sides. However, the bulk of current scholarship supports the "washed robes" version. In the end, it matters little, because both versions present truth.

    I suspect it is possible to lose one's salvation over theological arguments, when Jesus is looking for people who actually live out His commandments of love in their lives. (Consider the parable of the sheep and the goats.)

    • Acceptance on our part is a voluntary act! This is imperative; so we choose to accept and choose to obey; it's not that we are made obedient. If He were to make some people obedient and some not, would God be just ?

    • I agree that careful consideration of the literary structure of Rev. ch. 22 requires the reading "keep -- commandments." Pay attention to the different contexts of chapter 7 and chapter 22.

      There are many evangelical Christians who choke up at the idea of keeping the Commandments because they want to believe that the law was nailed to the cross. And for many that aversion to commandment keeping influences their choice of readings. We should not allow that bias against Bible teaching to influence our reading of Scripture.

    • Hello Sis Inge, the links in this comment are not working. They only take you to Biblia, not the articles you mentioned.

      • Wow! Thanks, Andrew, for pointing this out! Our Bible Reference script - which makes Bible verses appear when you hover over the reference - took over the whole URL. So I had to take "Rev 22:14" out of the titles to make the reference work. Try them now. 🙂

        So it seems as though no one else tried those links, which is a real shame, since Hermann, in his support of the "washed robes" version at "Robes wash or Commandments do?" (Rev 22:14) includes the actual Greek text for the two versions, demonstrating how easy it is to read the same text one way or the other. This helps visualize what Ben Tupper was also referring to and also why there is so much disagreement on the topic. The bottom line is that we have to make an educated guess regarding the original text. Ben is sure that the original text referred to keeping the commandments, and other scholars are equally sure that the original text referred to washing "robes" in the blood of the Lamb.

        That's where William's original point comes in. While it is true that the two versions of the text do not literally mean the same thing, as Ben rightly points out, it is also true that they both express divine truth and can be easily correlated: Those who wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb (i.e. allow Christ to justify and sanctify them) will keep the commandments. The two are never separate in actual Christian experience.

  4. The Law And Faith Speak One Thing.The Law Points Out Sin Romans 7:7-9.Now When The Law Points Out Sin We Confess Our Sins To Christ Who Washes Us With His Blood(1 John 1:7-9)the Law Cannot On Its Own Save Us Without Christ Galatians 2:21.When The Bible Says Christ Is The End Of The Law It Means Christ Is The Object Of The Law(without The Law Sin Is Not Counted And Where The Law Points Out Sin A Savoiur Is Needed To Save Us From The Consiguences Of Sin.In Short To Keep The Commandments By Faith And Confessing Our Sins To Jesus Makes Us Clean From Sin.

  5. I believe the answer to your question William is "Yes". Both.
    As you have demonstrated in your post, the bible will define the meaning of a passage more than analyzing that passage alone.

    First we must ask: Blood as bleach? How can this be, unless Revelation is using more symbols.

    What could the symbols mean?

    Blood = life(Lev 17:11).
    Robe = how one lives(Rev 19:8).

    So would this mean that those who immerse themselves in Jesus' life (as He taught in "eat my flesh" and "drink My blood) will live the same life themselves, a life of keeping the commandments?

    I recall a hymn that says; "Live out Thy life within me oh Jesus King of Kings". Jesus can only do this if we respond to His knocking and open the door to invite Him to dwell with us. This is similar to the daily gathering of manna "before the sun waxed hot". Something vital to do at the start of each day if we wish to live.

    Paul also supports the idea of doing laundry when writing to Titus: "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,". He also mentions something similar in Eph 5:25-27, with Jesus being the Word made flesh.

    I say the Bible supports your conclusion William.

    So, does this mean that a life of communion with Jesus is like doing laundry?
    Who doesn't like wearing clean clothes!

    • In all matters relating to Bible study, it is important to understand and accept what the Bible says. We are not at liberty to push the text around to suit our own opinions. In this case, it is unfortunate that we have two conflicting statements in the original texts based on differing transmission traditions. We can take several different approaches to that -- for example: It doesn't matter; or, What is the correct text; or, ... ? We cannot with intellectual honesty say they both mean the same thing because they do not. No matter how we twist the words around, we cannot legitimately say that washing robes is the same as keeping commandments. One is accepting Christ's saving Grace, at the beginning of the salvation process, the other is loyalty to Christ -- in Rev. 22:14, under duress, at the conclusion of the salvation process.

      So while we are at liberty to choose which text we believe is correct, based on criteria we accept and follow, we are not at liberty to pretend they say things they do not.

      Let's be precise in our thinking.

      • I am in support with Ben's comment. The text cannot be used as one being the condition of the other. In order for me to keep the commandment, I have to be righteous? I would not confuse myself into trying to massage one to justify my interpretation. Rather I will go by 'keeping the commandment' which is literally understood, then theoretically superceding with 'wash their robes'.

      • The washing symbolizes yielding to Christ as He yielded to His Father, which reflected the perfect will of God in all His earthly life by keeping the commandments of God.

        We cannot keep the commandments without abiding in Christ. This is symbolized as the washing of our robes in His blood (Rev 7:14). It results in perfect obedience. This is the whole purpose of God in Christ, making new creatures out of sinners and is represented by blood-washed robes.

        There will be two classes when Jesus comes again:
        Those who wash.
        Those who don't.

        Those who wash will be keeping the commandments.

      • Hi Ben,

        I agree with your assessment that the two versions of Rev 22:14 do not mean precisely the same, and I wish I had worded my original statement a little differently. However I would like you and Robert to consider what I have to deal with in my line of ministry.

        I am a Bible Worker who studies with all kinds of people. I can't explain what you have just explained to everyone I study with. They will think I am just making stuff up to suit my own interpretation. And if I tell them it is an unfortunate interpretation from original manuscripts, they may not trust the Bible at all, and start thinking anything could be a wrong translation. Their understanding of the whole process of how that KJV or NLT Bible got into their hands is not the same as mine and yours. Hence, my post was offering a solution without making people mistrust the whole process of how the Bible got into their hands. Some people even look at me kind of funny when I explain the misplaced comma in Luke 24.

        I appreciate your linguistic abilities, but please understand that not everyone we study with is a Bible scholar, and we have to lead people to trust the Bible. It's awkward telling people to trust the Bible and then turn around and tell them that a translation is wrong. Sometimes the KJV is more accurate. Sometimes it is not, like the comma in Luke 24 or the Jesus-Joshua issue in Hebrews 4. My job is to be able to sit down with anyone, regardless of their education level or the Bible translation in their hands, and present the gospel in a way they can understand and trust. Thus I presented how I explain Revelation 22:14. As a Bible Worker I present what is truth, and to the best of my ability and understanding not promote or condone what is wrong. So my illustration is purposed to help people in my situation. In a family Bible study I may not have all the resources at my finger tips, (or it may take too long to find them on my phone) to document the error in translating manuscripts, so I have proposed a solution for presenting truth without raising eyebrows and skepticism, when studying with people who are just learning to trust the Bible. Instead of showing people where their translation is wrong I will show them what is right. Is this not how the Spirit of Prophecy guides us to share the gospel. "The way to dispel darkness is to admit light. The best way to deal with error is to present truth." Desire of Ages Page 499.

        • But William, your original post is correct. Those who wash are the only ones who CAN keep the commandments. Together, these thoughts show HOW we keep the commandments and exposes the trap of legalism.

          How many "commandment keepers" were standing around the cross shouting "crucify him!" while in the middle of all this rabble one dying thief "washed his robe", so stained by his sin, in the blood of the One dying next to him, and received the promise. That thief eventually fell asleep in Christ, while keeping the commandments as far as his circumstances allowed. He had true faith and proved his conversion by his words to his Lord/Savior and the other thief. (In fact, doesn't this dying thief speak to all? What a witness to the whole world of true faith!)

          I think God wanted these two thoughts connected in our minds at this time. Thank you for connecting them. We must understand this relation to gain the victory at last.

          Too many have focused on the commandments, when focusing on the blood is the only Way to bring us into perfect harmony with them.

        • William, I will back you up here and say that as far as I know there is not one of our doctrines that we cannot defend by using even the worst of Bibles. All we have to do is to use the entire Bible in a systematic way in the sense that Isaiah put it, "For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little" (Isa. 28:10 NKJV).

          It is certainly nice to know the ancient languages and have knowledge about manuscripts but it is not necessary. Even the simplest of people can understand enough in order to be saved.

        • William, I do understand what you see as your predicament in giving Bible studies. However, in reference to the Hippocratic oath in Medicine -- Do No Harm -- I think a relevant equivalent for Bible Study would be -- Do Not Mislead.

          In reference to the varying translations of Rev 22:14, I think it should not be necessary to go into the technical history. It should be sufficient to say merely: "There are different translations of this verse, but I like the one that talks about keeping the commandments because it seems to me to fit the context of the chapter better."

          As for the comma in Luke 24, it is not necessary to even mention the comma, even such a minor technicality could arouse hostility in some. Rather, it should be sufficient to point out that neither Jesus nor the thief went to heaven that day. Jesus spent that evening and the next day in the tomb, and in the normal course of Roman crucifixions, the thief probably did not die for several more days. You could run into some challenge from the doctrine in some Christian communities that Jesus scavenged hell during that time, but then you have his comment resurrection morning that he had not yet been to see his father in heaven. .... etc.

          • Those are good suggestions Ben, and I do go that route many times myself when studying with people. Everyone is different. As far as the oath of do not mislead goes, I and many others on this thread do not see what I am doing as misleading. I am sorry you choose to see it that way. You have stated your case well, and it is appreciated, and I will carry this experience into my Bible studies, but I also trust you also realize that just because some one does not totally agree with you 100% that it does not mean that they are misleading people. Please, let's not take ourselves so seriously. 🙂

  6. I appreciate the points put forth by the author in this article. Righteousness by faith is really the only way. Your humanity must join with Christ's divinity in order to reach perfection.

    There is one problem with this article and it has to do with the illustration. I really despise that illustration at the top of the article showing Jesus putting on His robe onto a person who hasn't cast off their own robe of unrighteousness. Why is this depiction so popular? It's really quite a deception if you think about it.

    Basically, it says that you can stay sinful and Jesus' robe will cover your unrighteous robe with His. However, that's not true. You must give Him your filthy robe first, THEN He puts His robe of righteousness on you so that you may stand before the Father. That picture is inaccurate on SO many levels.

    Matt 5:48 states: Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

    You can't be perfect having your sinful robe under Christ's. He can't do that. You must GIVE UP your filthy robe FIRST. Then and only then can Christ's robe cover you.

    • Marcus, we can arrive at the conclusion that you do if we think of the robe as sanctification rather than justification. I think that might be true of Rev 19:7-8 that says, "'Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.' And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints" (Rev. 19:7-8 NKJV). That of course is talking about the church, the lamb's wife whose character is discussed in the description of the New Jerusalem.

      The other place where that seems to be true for some people is in Zech 3 when talking about Joshua the high priest. However, we are talking about the sins of God's people here (Zech 3:4) that are being removed which is what the death on the cross does as a vicarious death in our place. In all other places that I know of the idea of a robe is about justification as a covering. It is strictly a forensic proclamation (imputed righteousness) that we are considered righteous and therefore we are still in need of a change which is what the process of sanctification (imparted righteousness) is about.

      Even in the Day of Atonement spoken of in Lev 16 and Lev 23:27-28 where it says, "And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God" (Lev. 23:28 NKJV). The first word for atonement is kippur and the second is kaphar (the two words are related) which is the same word used in building Noah's ark where God told Noah to, "cover it inside and outside with pitch (Gen. 6:14 NKJV). Day of Atonement, therefore, literally means Day of Covering.

      You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin (Ps. 85:2 NKJV).
      I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels (Isa. 61:10 NKJV).
      When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine," says the Lord GOD (Ezek. 16:8 NKJV).
      But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin" (Rom. 4:5-8 NKJV; the OT quote is from Ps 32:1-2).
      let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins (James 5:20 NKJV).

      • The robe given to Joshua the high priest, with the fair miter was/is Sanctification. The removal of the dirty robe is Justification. God will not leave us naked will He?

        The robe is the changed in the life. Righteousness is the cover and can be seen by others. (Ps 40:3) See also Eph 5:25-27.

        From "Christ Triumphant" pg 77:

        Has God commanded? Then we must obey—without hesitating and seeking to find some way to be saved without obedience; this would be climbing up some other way. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” “I have kept my Father’s commandments,” says the Majesty of heaven....

        We should not obey the commandments merely to secure heaven, but to please Him who died to save sinners from the penalty of the transgression of the Father’s law. The sinner’s salvation depends upon ... ceasing to transgress and obedience to that transgressed law. No one should venture or presume upon the mercy of God, feeling at liberty to sin as much as they dare.... It is a sad resolve to follow Christ as far off as possible, venturing as near the verge of perdition as possible without falling in.—Letter 35b, 1877

        I believe there is one robe from Christ, it follows justification (the removal of the dirty rags) and reveals the sanctification of the heart/mind.

        • Robert, I really appreciate your previous comments on this subject. You have enabled me to see more symbolism in Revelation 7:14 KJV than I previously did by stirring up my mind a bit. Thank you!

          I think we can agree that the pure white robe symbolizes the righteousness of Christ - the character of Christ. The idea of individuals washing robes implies something they are doing themselves - changes they make in their own characters. But the symbol also says clearly that they are washing their robes "in the blood of the Lamb" - and the paradox of making them white in the blood of the Lamb indicates the impossibility of this process by any humanly available method. Thus the word picture symbolizes that it is only through the power of Jesus Christ that it is possible to develop a righteous character.

          I had not before thought of the distinction of the biblical symbols of "washing" one's robes and of accepting a robe as a covering.

          Now I see that the washing must symbolize sanctification - which is the same as "keeping the commandments." And, yes, William was totally correct in saying that they both say the same thing, even if the same words are not used. God truly watches over His Word, even in modern translations.

          However, I see the exchange in Zechariah 3:1-6 as representing justification, rather than sanctification. Here's why:
          The text implies that Satan opposes Joshua the High Priest on the basis of his filthy garments. The vision acknowledges that Joshua is, indeed, dressed in filthy garments, representing a sinful character. But the Lord rebukes Satan (Zech 3:2) and immediately replaces his filthy garments with clean ones. (Zech 3:3-5) To me, this has always been a vivid illustration of justification, which is a declaration of righteousness on the basis of accepting Christ's righteousness as a covering of our own imperfections. We are declared righteous even before we are sanctified. This imputation of the character of Christ is not dependent on our perfect obedience, only on our acceptance of that which we lack. What a beautiful symbol!!

          I'm not sure how an artist could illustrate the process of justification better than Lars Justinen did in the illustration used. It would take several illustrations to do more, rather than one. While it is true that the righteousness of Christ (as in justification) will not cover one cherished sin, it will certainly cover our imperfections. If it were not so, we would all be without hope.

          It seems to me that an appropriate symbolic illustration for sanctification would represent a person washing a robe in blood. But I'm not sure what that would look like.

          • Inge, Robert,
            Thanks for the thoughts about justification and sanctification as seen in Zechariah 3. I love how Zechariah gets so involved as in vision he watches the high priest having his filthy garments replaced. He hears the Lord say that Joshua's iniquity is therefore removed. Then Zechariah speaks up, "put a clean turban on his head". And it is done! It reminds me of Peter when Jesus washed his feet, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” John 13:9 Wouldn't the symbolism of the turban be that not only are our actions made right/cleansed/justified, but our thoughts as well? Or could the turban symbolize sanctification, since the transformation of our mind is part of the process of sanctification? "do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2. Maybe it's not possible to isolate repentance, justification, or sanctification, since they all occur as part of the process of seeking God and His righteousness.

          • Inge and Barbara, Justification is the act of forgiveness, period. It comes only when by faith, one confesses and repents of sin. (Confess means to agree with the conviction of wrongdoing. Repentance means to reverse one's direction in regard to what is being repented of, which requires a choice by that individual.)

            So Justification is simply the providing of a propitiation for the sins being confessed/repented by the guilty individual. No outward, visible sign, but an inward acceptance through faith. Zechariah was shown this process by the removal of the visible filthy garment. Notice the words of the Lord in Zech 3:4, "I have taken...away" and then "I will clothe". Two separate actions, one following the other. The order can never be reversed as the Lord cannot sanctify the unrepentant sinner.

            Sanctification is the new, visible direction in the life, which reveals the outward witness of change from the past. As Paul states; a new creature. In Zechariah it is seen as the new robe(which has now replaced the old robe which must be removed first), and is visible to all. (unlike justification which is only received by faith in God's promises to forgive "IF we confess...". This action takes place in the "books" of heaven, unseen by humans.)

            The fair mitre or turban of the priest had a gold plate attached (with blue thread) with the inscription: "Holiness unto the LORD". I think this symbolism is such that no interpretation is really needed. Right?(Yes Barbara, Rom 12:2, which must follow Rom 12:1)

            Repentance, Justification, Sanctification, all distinct actions, happening in order, in the process of reclaiming the repentant sinner by the Grace of God who loves to heal and restore anything that sin has broken. This is God's supreme focus in Christ and His greatest desire at this time. Once that work is finished...well, I guess we'll find out what happens next. 🙂

          • Robert, I tend to agree with Inge more than I do with you even though I see a lot of truth in what you say.

            To me Zechariah's vision is about justification alone and then after that then the admonition comes to walk in God's ways. Furthermore, sanctification is mostly a setting aside for a particular purpose and secondarily the process of literally becoming righteous which takes a lifetime +. We are never perfect through the process of sanctification even at the end of life even though it is necessary. For that we need justification.

            The two work together but without justification we are dead meat. That is why Paul spends so much time discussing justification rather than sanctification when it comes to salvation.

          • Tyler, Paul says much more about sanctification than many realize, and many might be surprised how much. Paul's specific arguments against the law as a means of justification has many thinking any focus on obedience is some sort of "works" religion, which is not his argument at all. If you look for it in his epistles, sanctification is probably his greatest focus. It's everywhere throughout his writings. Romans and Galatians are probably the 2 exceptions, especially Galatians, where justification seems more focused on, when the actual focus is faith vs works of the law(specifically the ceremonial law, in particular circumcision) as a means of it. His arguments have been taken out of context by many, including a growing number of SDA's.

  7. I appreciat the statement in regards to obeying the laws of the land and obeying the laws of God being possible. We obey the laws of the land to reveal the character of good citizens. We obey the laws of God to reveal Goo's character operating in and through us. God gives us the will power to accomplish both obedience to His laws and obedience to the laws of the land. Obedience is by choice for both the laws of God and the laws of the land/ government. If I choose obedience to God's laws I will automatically by default obey the laws of the land/government. Look to Jesus.

  8. William, the discussion seems to have a life of its own and I am not sure it is what "regular discussion" you wanted, turned out to be. The little bit of research that I have done seems to favor keeping the commandments in the KJV. The terms contradiction and differences are not interchangeable as some think. Context is important and should not be overlooked also.

    I remember a well known Adventist minister saying during an evangelistic series. "Do not use Revelation 22:14 as a reference text for commandment and Sabbath keeping. It says wash, your robes". This was many years ago, but the discussion is not new. There are 1189 chapters and 31,103 verses +137 unnumbered in Psalms. There are also many apparent differences that some see as contradictions through out the Bible. Matt 28:1 Mark 16:1 Luke 24:1 John20:1. How many and who were at Jesus tomb the next morning are examples. What impact does this make on our salvation? The statement that the lady in your study group made about keeping the commandments is true under certain circumstances. You and someone else that commented, answered it correctly. It is impossible of our own accord. Without help and power from God, no matter what we determine, it is an effort in futility. If we could, are we now righteous enough? Isaiah 64:6.

    The important robe is in Isaiah 61:10. I would also ask, when talking about doing, or keeping the commandments. Is the great commandment what is in mind? Matt. 22:36-40. Is there bias anywhere?

  9. Some suggest that I am misleading by accepting a translation that says "washed their robes" in Rev 22:14, so please allow me to clarify.

    1. When people show up to my Bible study with a NLT or NIV, I am not misleading them by reading the text as "washed their robes." That is exactly what their Bible says. That is what I have to work with. And no, I am not going to tell an atheist immigrant who can barely read English, and no way could read or understand KJV English that his NLT Bible is a bad Bible translation. When I have a non-believing person pick up any kind of a Bible, I meet them where they are.

    2. Whether it was a translation error or not (and scholars are divided on the issue), at the end of the day, all those who have washed their robes will be keeping the commandments, and all those who keep the commandments will have washed their robes. So in practical applied Christianity, there is no real difference.

    3. I totally get that some manuscripts are more accurate than others, and it is all very interesting and important to me. I have versions I trust and versions I don't necessarily trust. However, John 20:31 tells us these things were written to help us believe in Jesus and have life through His name. Jesus is the goal of the Bible regardless of which translation you prefer. As a Bible Worker I understand my number one goal is to lead people to Jesus. I also understand, that not only are people on different spiritual levels, they are also on different reading levels. You would not believe how many adults I meet who can't read very well or simply can't read at all. So I am glad when people find a version they like reading, because then they are reading. Like a friend of mine said, "The best Bible version is the one you will actually read."

  10. ** Notice to our readers **
    We regret to have to inform you that we will not be publishing further comments on the relative merits of the various Bible translations and their sources. A discussion on such a contentious issue has the potential of taking the focus off the truth God want us to receive through His Word, and it is directly contrary to the intent of William's post.

    We also will not publish comments delving further into the meaning of Revelation, even though the writer might connect them to the text under question. Again, prophetic interpretation is another contentious issue with many different viewpoints, and this post was not intended to host such a discussion.

    That said, we concede that one sentence in William's post could have been worded better. William wrote:

    I conclude that “Do His Commandments” and “Wash their robes” are not contradictions, but rather mean the same thing.

    We apologize for not catching this before publication. Better would have been to leave it with what He said earlier:

    I see no significant discrepancy between “Do His Commandments” and “Wash their robes” because those "have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" will most certainly "keep the commandments."

    The context indicates clearly enough that that was what William meant. He was not doing an exercise in textual criticism. (It would also be fair to say that the two translations complement each other.)

    It is likely that we will publish a post on Bible versions some time in the future. Please reserve your thought on Bible versions until that time.

    Thank you for respecting the wishes of the author and the SSNET volunteer moderators.

  11. Perhaps I am a bit simple but it occurs to me that we forget by whose hand the Bible was given to us. He who created the worlds and the stars does not find the wording of the scriptures beyond him. He who works not only on paper but in the minds of men is more than able to convey His concepts to willing mortals. While it is good to study and there is a place for scholars, we should remember that it was not the scholars but the fishermen and common folk who followed the King while the scholars debated.

  12. My position regarding faith in God comes as a result of my life experiences with following Jesus. For 38 years I did my own way. Now, the years with Jesus (52) is all the proof I need that God is real.

  13. It is amazing how interpretation can change the way we see and understand the word of God.
    I wish i knew greek, but I don,t. Now I agree with Mr, Ben in discussing the different meaning of both translation. It is important to understand the word of God as God intended to, we cannot give different meaning to the word of God, after all it is his Holy word. Many people would just stay with the phrase Wash robe, because they believe keeping the law of God is for the legalistic and fanatic.
    But the bible is clear, Keep the commandment is the commandment from God. He gives us the ability to do everything. I can do all things through Christ. God bless you all

    • Dear JK, the problem with Rev 22:14 is that the bible is not clear on this particular text, since there are two variant readings in the available manuscripts. But that does not affect any teaching regarding the Law of God because it is clear enough in the rest of the Bible. It is not dependent on any one text.

      Furthermore, if to wash our robes means to do our part in the character transformation process which is the work of Christ in us, then the two interpretations mean virtually the same thing. The person who is cooperating with Christ in the work of sanctification will keep the commandments. So there is no contradiction at all between the translations. Both translations refer to the fact that only those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and have cooperated with Him in the process of character transformation will be permitted to enter into the City of God.

  14. Having red the pros and cons of these two different readings of Revelation 22:14 of different manuscripts and considering the inspiration of scripture, I wonder as to whether or not both traditions could be inspired? I should think both are inspired as both of them reflect relevant elements of salvation. I think, our faith and the inspiration of scripture is not based just on one particular manuscript tradition nor on any one single text or passage. Systematic theology puts all biblical teaching together into one understandable picture for testimony and proclamation. Textual criticism is in place as to reconstruct the text as far as possible, but it must not end there. Its place within biblical teaching as a whole ought to be considered.

    Washing our robes corresponds to justification by faith and grace alone and without any meritorious works, whatever. But the question remains: Does our justification by faith and grace alone bear any fruit visible in our lives? Such fruit is a product of being united to Christ as the branches are united to the vine (John 15:5). Pauls tells us that salvation comes through sanctification of the spirit and by the spirit. (2 Thessalonians 2:13)
    The apostel Paul tells us: For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Corinthinans 5:20)

    There are words in the bible being considered as corrupt as they do not make any sence, so the translators are trying to make the best of the situation. As to Revelation 22:14, I should think both reading traditions are not corrupt nor corrupted so as to do way one or the other. They have a firm footing in explaining the whole picture of salvation. It would indeed be a distorted picture to do away one over against the other. It is possible that the tradition, reading about doing the commandments, was trying to avoid a one sided picture of salvation in adding the note on doing the commandments. In any case, as to inspiration, we may say with the apostle Paul: But we have this treasure in earthen vessel. (2 Corinthians 4:7 RSV) After all, I think it all remains the inspired word of God in such earthen vessels that may have some cracks here and there. It is neverthless the infallible word of God using fallible human instruments such as we are. Nevertheless, it is the word of God in human fallible language. (1 Thessalonians 2:13)

    Winfried Stolpmann

    • The idea that washing our robes is part of Justification or Sanctification is extra-biblical. The only secure reference in the Bible to people washing their robes is in Revelation 7:14, and that refers to a group selected out of the vast multitude who are wearing white robes. The robes were already white. The washing was extra, based on extra circumstances.

      It is important to read what the Bible actually ways and not impose our own ideas onto it.

      Part of the problem in equating washing robes with Sanctification/Justification is that it leads us back into a works salvation -- that we have to Do Something in order for God to want to save us. Throughout the Bible the robe is given. The symbology is in the giving of the robe. The gift of God is eternal life, not something we earn by good works, such as washing. We don't scrub away our sins. Christ removes our sins from us when we are baptized into his death and resurrection (Romans 6). We don't remove them from ourselves by washing them away.

      Keeping the law does not earn our salvation. We keep the law Because we have been saved. If we have to wash our robes in order to be saved, in order to gain access to the tree of life, then we are back in the Roman doctrine of salvation by merit -- through the sacrament of washing.

      • Ben, I have tried to stay out of this argument concerning the washing of robes as much as I could except for a tangent comment I made at the beginning. To me the arguments involved are rather minor. Whatever happens to the robes of the saints happens because of what Jesus did not what they do and for me that is where it's at. It has no more works involved in it than having faith in Christ's atonement, it's all a matter or faith in what God does.

        As far as Rev 7:14 goes please prove to me that the ones who wash their robes are only a part of the great multitude.

  15. It's all about character. Pray for a transformed character (heart) so that you don't even want to go against the law - any law. Behold Christ's character and pray for His mind to be imparted to you. Don't keep score. Just trust, believe, pray, obey.

  16. Jesus came and lived the Law the way He meant it when He said it.

    I have this typed up and stuck on my computer, (I read it on this blog but can't remember the author) I find this helps me put the Law in the right perspective.

  17. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.Gal.3:24.
    If we would like to live or to have good relationship or friendship, with somebody or with our God,we need to know first his character.so the Holy Spirit and the law lead us to Christ, they are tutor. If the people want to live with liberty or freedom, they must know well the G government's laws and rules, they must know and obey the law in order to live peaceful life. Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? Amos 3:3. To obey God's law, there is huge benefit for this life and the life to come. when we get in heaven, we are not strange for the divine law of our God because God and His character are everlasting. Amen! Take it to the heart!

  18. Hello William,this is a very thought provoking discussion! I understand what you are saying about not discouraging the people you are studying with. Most of us who are bible workers should understand. Concerning your clariyfing statement on your last post. "When I have a non-believing person pick up any kind of a Bible, I meet them where they are."(Very true, we have to meet them where they are, that's what Christ did for us,then took us further.)

    (2. Whether it was a translation error or not (and scholars are divided on the issue), at the end of the day, all those who have washed their robes will be keeping the commandments, and all those who keep the commandments will have washed their robes. So in practical applied Christianity, there is no real difference.)

    There is a difference; All those who keep the commandments will have washed their robes, however, not all those who have washed their robes will be keeping the commandments unless they are familiar with them, unless you want to use the short version, "to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself". I have seen people accept Christ without knowing the commandments. Of this group there are those who accepted it as they learned of it and there were those who rejected it.
    There is a clip from Desire of Ages pg 323-324 .

    "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man," said Jesus, "he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there." {DA 323.2}

    There were many in Christ's day, as there are today, over whom the control of Satan for the time seemed broken; through the grace of God they were set free from the evil spirits that had held dominion over the soul. They rejoiced in the love of God; but, like the stony-ground hearers of the parable, they did not abide in His love. They did not surrender themselves to God daily, that Christ might dwell in the heart; and when the evil spirit returned, with "seven other spirits more wicked than himself," they were wholly dominated by the power of evil. {DA 323.3}
    When the soul surrenders itself to Christ, a new power takes possession of the new heart. A change is wrought which man can never accomplish for himself. It is a supernatural work, bringing a supernatural element into human nature".

    So when one accepts Christ and is covered buy His robe (Justification)there has to be a continual abiding in Him, for growth in Him (Sanctification). Knowledge is vital, that's why we take our time and lead our bible study for participants to understand. "Go near, the Spirit said, "and join thyself to this chariot." As Philip drew near, he asked the eunuch, "Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me Acts 8:20-23. May God continue to bless your much needed work for Him. Wish we had more bible workers out there, what a blessing that will be.

    • Ed, I'd like to suggest that you recalibrate your definitions here of Justification and Sanctification -- based on a whole new study of the biblical sources entirely apart from whatever you may have been taught in school.

      Justification -- the entire world was justified at the cross (Romans 5 and elsewhere)

      Sanctification -- set apart for holiness, that is, the New Birth experience, working from the NT roots, where Sanctification is translated from hagiasmos, which is derived from the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew qodesh.

      What we have here is a bit of semantic drift, that words don't mean the same thing they did several hundred years ago. What we normally call Sanctification nowadays should better be called "growing in Grace."

      I've written more on this in a separate thread.

      • Perhaps it is also good to remember that words do not usually have a single, specific definition, as any dictionary will demonstrate.

        While to be "sanctified" means to be set apart for holiness, it also means to "make holy." This setting apart or "making holy" implies a change in behavior, and that agrees with our usual understanding of sanctification being the work of Christ in us while justification is the work of Christ for us.

        • Linguistic drift is both a blessing and a bane, both enriching and corrupting our language. The multiple meanings of a word, as found in "any dictionary" are generally a result of a meaning shift over time with attention both to what a word means now and to what it used to mean. Poets are famous for twisting words in new dimensions. In understanding any text, it is well to understand the meaning the words had when the text at hand was written – which means we need to understand what Paul meant when he wrote hagiasmos..

          Charles Hodge (Systematic Theology, III, p. 220f, u.a.) uses frequently the word "regeneration" for Sanctification, showing that it is, first of all, a supernatural act in setting the penitent apart from sin, but also recognizing that not all the effects of sin are immediately remedied.

          I have chosen to use a less theological vocabulary, simply calling biblical Sanctification the New Birth, followed by Growing in Grace, the while being patient with those who can only conceive the word in its contemporary shifted meaning.

          The verb, to sanctify hagiazo has a broader reach. Paul uses it both in the sense of setting apart and of purging oneself of base things, for example 2 Timothy 2:21.

          The problem I think we need to face is that the modern shifted meaning of Sanctification, wrongly applied, leads many into a works-oriented view of salvation, that their salvation is dependent on their ability to purge themselves of sinfulness.

  19. Thanks to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, we see parity in the apparent disparity of the two theories. Yes, how unmistakably true it is that those who have washed their filthy robe in the Calvary bloodstream cannot flout the immutable Decalogue. Praise the Lord for the stability and consistency of the Word of God.

    • I would point out that any disparity seen is from lack of understanding the meaning of either one or both translations. I have often found greater clarity by comparing various versions of any particular passage. The Revelation is rich in symbols, yes, the whole book is presented in such a way that only those familiar with the Words and Ways of the LORD can begin to understand it through the help of the promised Teacher(John 16:13).

      The Revelation is properly understood by a knowledge of the 66 and their Author, not through news headlines, popular opinions, political predictions or commentaries(though they may get some things correct).

      The Revelation's key to understanding is found it the very first verse (Rev 1:1) where we see that God will show (only) His Servants what these things mean. Be His servant and He will show you; is the promise and the condition.

      See also: Zech 4:6, Ps 32:8; 119:38, Dan 12:10, John 7:17, etc.

      • The disparity results from a disagreement in the two main Greek textual traditions. The Egyptian manuscript tradition says "wash robes." The Byzantine manuscript says "do commandments." For a lot of reasons I accept the Byzantine tradition as the correct one. I have written extensively on this from time to time, and don't feel like doing it all over again right now. If the question persists, maybe I'll dig up one of my previous discussions from archives and post it here.

  20. I'd like to know if justification will be done by the law or the faith. Isn't keeping the Sabbath keeping the law. If justification will be done by the law, then it means those who do not keep the Sabbath are all sinners. Is this true? If it is then does it mean that it is only the SDAs who are chosen because they keep the Sabbath? Does it mean that all the Protestants and Catholics are sinners because they don't keep the Saturday Sabbath? Will all of them be punished in hell despite their faith? If the answer is Yes, then what is the use of faith if it can't lead you to God?

    • Faith results in justification(forgiven) and sanctification (obedience to the Law by faith).

      We are forgiven before we obey when we exercise faith in the promise of God by repenting of our sins which His law convicts us of. The obedience follows this by the Grace of God. But if we claim to be forgiven while still transgressing the law, we are not forgiven, because we have not yet repented.

      Justification (forgiveness) is through faith, not through works, but the works will follow if we have truly repented.

      • Is that to say if we keep the other laws and worship on Sunday, we will be thrown to hell for just not keeping Saturday as a Sabbath?

        • Kipsang, I believe that God cannot take rebels to heaven because the Bible tells us that sin would not rise up a second time. And rebels would certainly start a rebellion all over again.

          I believe there will be many people in heaven who kept Sunday as Sabbath because they were not convicted of the true Sabbath for one reason or another. However, if anyone is convicted of the God's truth on any point (whether it is the Sabbath or something else) and decides not to do it God's way but follows his own way instead, that person is rebelling against God and His wisdom. And rebels will not be in heaven.

          (By the way, the Bible teaches that the wicked are destroyed. It does not teach that they burn forever. The teaching of eternal hell fire is serious slander against the character of God. For more on the subject, see "Punishment of the Wicked in Light of the Cross." Also see more posts on Death and Resurrection.)

      • There are some problems with definitions here.

        A proper reading of the Greek text of Romans, through several chapters, tells us that we are justified by the faithfulness of Christ _pisteos iesou christou_ (genitive case, literally "faith of Jesus Christ) not our own faith. That reading applied to Romans 5 resolves a lot of confusion. Several passages in other of Paul's epistles confirm this reading of Romans 5.

        Romans 5:10 tells us we were justified by the blood of Jesus while we were still enemies. That has to be before we exercised faith. So our justfication could not have resulted from our faith. We didn't have any faith yet. Romans 5:18 tells us that justification came to "all men" -- not just those who had faith.

        So justification was the act of Christ on the cross which won the world, and everything in it, back from Satan. Christ's perfect life undid Adam's sin, and his death was the death Adam earned by his sin. That all happened without our personal participation.

        Where it touches us personally is our sanctification. The Greek word translated in English as sanctification is used in the Septuagint as equivalent to a Hebrew word which means, to dedicate, to set aside for a holy purpose, as the furniture of the tabernacle was sanctified. When we accept Christ, we are sanctified, set aside for a holy purpose, no longer a member of the kingdom of darkness.

        What happens next is growing in grace, which is too often wrongly called sanctification. We grow in grace because we have been sanctified. When we accept Christ and enter the kingdom of grace from the kingdom of darkness, we are at that moment sanctified. We still have a lot of growing to do, but we do that growing in a state of having been sanctified.

        We are personally forgiven when we are sanctified, not when we are justified, though the justification of the whole world at the cross was sort of a general amnesty, which we accept or reject when we seek sanctification.

        • Ben, the logic you are applying to interpret the meaning of the Greek loses that meaning when we compare with other passages on this subject of justification/forgiveness doesn't it? How do you reconcile that interpretation with passages such as 1 John 1:9 or John 8:24?

          Also, what is the emphasis in Romans 4 which Paul gives to support what follows it in Romans 5? Romans 5 is not a detached island in scripture with it's own individual meaning on justification by faith. Who's faith did Jesus point out led many to be healed, was it not their own faith(Mark 5:34, Luke 17:19, and many more)?

          I think when you compare with the rest of the Bible on this matter, the true meaning of Romans 5 is confirmed. Doesn't the same writer (Paul) tell us that "without faith it is impossible to please Him"? Doesn't Habakkuk tell us "the just shall live by his faith"?(Hab 2:4, which Paul is quoting in Romans 1:16,17.)

          A few more passages to consider when interpreting how the Bible teaches us we are justified/forgiven/pardoned of sin: Prov 28:13, Isa 55:7, Jer 36:3, Acts 2:38,39: 3:19.

          Back to Romans 4 which the "therefore" of Romans 5:1 hearkens back to, who's faith brings the justification? Is it not Abraham's faith?(Rom 4:5,19,20) To solidify this point we need only to recount the teaching of Christ to Nicodemus in John 3, in particular verses 14-18.

          Universal justification(without personal faith) cannot exist while scripture remains our standard on this doctrine.

          • Robert, just briefly now -- more later. But I think it is hard to get around Romans 5:10, that we were justified while we were still enemies.

            Of course we need to have faith. And there is more than one aspect to justification. The English word "justification" translates several different Greek words with varying connotations. Confusion arises when we try to put them all in one basket to draw a single result.

            I'll try to do a more complete analysis when I have time.

  21. Kipsang, I'd like to offer a few thoughts/concepts on this if I may.

    1.Sin is defined in the Bible as the transgression of the law of God (1Jn 3:4).

    2.But it is useful, I think, to understand that there are "sins of ignorance". And yet sins of ignorance are still sins, and these have the power to put us in the grave. (However, it is KNOWN sin that has the power, both to put us in the grave AND to keep us out of heaven.)

    3.There is provision in the gospel for God to blink at, or overlook, sins of ignorance. (Acts 17:30.)

    4.Not to "remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy", is sin [or transgression.] But for many people it has been, and continues to be, a sin of ignorance. But for those that have felt a conviction that it is right to keep the Sabbath, and they resist (or smother) that conviction, then for that person their resistance has the power to shut them out of heaven.

    Rejecting Sabbath is a sin, in the same way that making and worshiping an idol is a sin.

    I suggest here too, that James 2:24-26 is worthy of note.

    "You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
    Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
    For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."

    • Col 2:16-17 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.
      17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. NIV

      Heb 4:9-11 There remains, then, a Sabbath — rest for the people of God;
      10 for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.
      11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. NIV

      Therefore i believe the sabbath is fulfilled in the NT in a different way. It is by not being under the law but being led by the Spirit who causes us to fullfill the righteous requirement of the law (to love God and people)(Rom 8:4)

      The person who is led by the Spirit who is love because He is God fulfills the law. We enter Gods rest by doing what he would have us do all day every day. The sabbath is a principle though of needing to set aside time with Him just as Jesus did, to hear from Him and be led by Him.

      If we are not being changed from the inside out by the Holy Spirit it leads to legalism. Law without love.

  22. are we told in the Bible that The seventh day is Saturday? What if my week starts on Monday? I think those who said Saturday said so after it was agreed globally that Sunday is the first day. Since the calendar has been changed 3 times, don't you think the seventh day might have shifted?

    • The quick answer is no, we are not told that the Seventh-day is Saturday, But we are told that the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week. The history of calendars in an interesting one and I do not presume to give a full answer here. I will make two points:

      1) the calendar changes that have occurred in the last two thousand years (probably the ones that you are thinking about) have not changed the weekly cycle. The main reason for calendar reform has always been about handling the leap year problem (somewhat fitting that I am answering this on Feb 29) If you look at these calendar changes you will see that they involve date shifts changing the dates (sometimes by up to two weeks - from memory) to ensure seasonal alignment with the calendar. The date changes have nothing to do with the weekly cycle. It is essentially saying for example that in order to make the correction Monday the 25th of January will be followed by Tuesday 3rd of February.

      2) The jews have been meticulous Sabbath keepers right through their history. There are studies that make it fairly evident that the weekly cycle observed by the Jews extends back to the time of Christ. While the evidence is less clear, there it would appear that that observance extends back to the Babylonian captivity. The evidence before that period is not so clear, but knowing how tenaciously the Jews have kept the Sabbath it is quite conceivable that their observance was consistent before that time as well. Some of us believe that in the absence of historical evidence,it is an act of faith to believe that the weekly cycle has been preserved.

      Of course it goes without saying that keeping Sabbath just to fulfill a legal requirement is a bit like saying that you are married just because you have a wedding certificate. Keeping Sabbath is about your relationship with God. I personally think of the Sabbath as a gift from God, given to me for my benefit. it is about building a relationship with God and extending that relationship to one another. If we do not understand that then we miss the point of what Sabbath is about.

      • 2 Chronicles 23 tells us that the Jews had a secure sense of which day was the Sabbath long before the captivity. It is possible, but not likely, that the people had lost track of the specific seventh day during the kingdom apostasies. I feel comfortable in believing that the Holy Spirit watched over the day and didn't let it get lost going all the way back to creation. But in any case, the Son of God, the creator of the world, would have known which day he hallowed at the conclusion of creation week. If there had been an error, he would have said something during his ministry.

        • Ben, didn't the miracle of the manna make sure the 7th Day in the event it had been lost sight of? Still, the pagans have always worshiped on the 1st day typically and one needs only to count forward from there. Also the Papacy has declared the 1st day as the rest day, and have not lost count either.

          And yes, God has kept the correct day before man.

          • Yes, and not just the miracle of the manna, but the entire Sinai experience. I understood the question as to whether the specific Sabbath might have been lost during the various apostasies between the conquest and the Babylonian exile. Remember when during the reign of Josiah the book of the law was found and the religious practice of the nation restored. I pointed out the 2 Chronicles 23 passage to show that the Sabbath was established at least at that time, whatever might have happened in the previous several hundred years.

        • Yes indeed, if the Jews had been keeping the wrong day of the week as the Sabbath, Jesus would have said something. By claiming lordship of the Sabbath day, Jesus claimed that day as His own, and of course there need not be any confusion as to which day is "the Lord's day" (because Jesus made claim to only one specific day).

          In the days of the Roman Emperor Augustus (reigned 31B.C.-14A.D.), a nine day week (based on an old agricultural market day cycle), and the seven day week were being used.

          The days of the seven day week were called (in Latin, in the order then used) :
          1. Dies Solis (i.e. day of Sol, the Sun = Sunday)
          2. Dies Lunae (i.e. day of Lunae, the Moon = Monday)
          3. Dies Martis
          4. Dies Mercurii
          5. Dies Lovis
          6. Dies Veneris
          7. Dies Saturni (i.e. day of Saturn = Saturday).

          This is important history for us I think, because it shows that the Romans were calling the 7th day of the week "Dies Saturni", in the time of Emperor Augustus. (And Augustus lived in the time of Jesus. He died when Jesus was about 10 years old.) Dies Saturni (the day we now call Saturday) was the 7th day of the week in the time of Jesus!

          But Jesus and the Jews did not call it "Dies Saturni" (as the Pagan Romans called it, or Saturday, as English speakers now call it,) Jesus and the Jews called it the Sabbath.

          • The history of the Greek and Roman calendars is more complicated than that. In the earlier periods the Romans did not have weeks at all, hence no days of weeks. Rather they divided the month into segments of varying length, which changed from time to time. The ancient Greeks, at least from Homer to the classical period, used a lunar calendar quite similar to the Babylonians, that is, each month began with the new moon and was divided into four seven-day periods, according to the phases of the moon, with the extra-lunar period, the moon-dark period of one or two days at the end, handled differently. In the Hellenistic period, beginning about 100 years before Christ, the Greeks adopted a strictly seven-day week and named the days of the week according to their order in Hellenistic astrology, which differs from their actual order in the solar system. The Romans adopted the Hellenistic system some time in the first century before Christ, so that by the time of Christ the entire civilized world was using the same week as the Hebrews, only with different names for the days.

    • There is no doubt that the seventh day of the week has been called the Sabbath for the past 2000 years -- as witnessed by the names of the days of the week in many languages, some variation of the word Sabbath regularly applying to the seventh day. Some examples: Arabic: Sabet; Armenian: Shabat; Czech: Sobota; Greek: Savvato; Indonesian: Sabtu; Somali: Sabti; Sudanese: Saptu.

      That said. there has been a concerted effort in some quarters over the past fifty years to make the week start on Monday, which would change the seventh day of the week to Sunday. The ISO (International Standards Organization) has been a leader in that effort, and several European countries have issued calendars structured that way.

      But that doesn't change the fact that throughout the world Sunday is still considered the first day of the week. The international labor organizations have given active support to that order. And historically it is impossible to deny that most all pagan calendars have put the "day of the sun" first, followed by the "day of the moon," then the planets in a row, ending with Saturn..

  23. Would you please tell me what is expected from me during the Sabbath days? If its to rest and strengthen my relationship with God, I might do that on Saturday then fellowship with other Christians on Sunday!

    • Kipsang, we should fellowship with other Christians every day of every week of every month -- as much as we can -- in the context of sharing our faith. The Sabbath is a special day of worship. Worship is different from fellowship. Worship is time we spend with God. We come apart from our work-a-day world to "remember" what God has done for us and to praise him for it. We worship both as a group (church service) and as individuals (personal devotions). We can do that on any day of the week, we should spend some time every day in personal devotion worship, but the Sabbath is a special day when we devote all our time and all our thoughts to our relationship with God and his creation.

    • Kipsang, I believe you understand the essence of the Sabbath - i.e. to rest and strengthen our relationship with God.

      We strengthen our relationship with God the same way we strengthen our relationship with people - we spend time listening to them, talking with them and doing things with them. This is not always just one-on-one time. We get to know people better by spending time with them in group situations and work as well.

      I believe it's the same with our relationship with God. We listen to what He says to us in His Word and His voice in our conscience, we talk with Him through prayer, and we do things with Him - i.e. we do the kind of things Jesus did on the Sabbath. He relieved peoples' suffering on the Sabbath and He worshiped with them in their places of worship.

  24. Are we saved by law or grace? Wrong question! We are saved from a life of rebellion to live a life in harmony with the character of Jehovah, by His power and loving kindness. The laws in the Bible are revelations of Jehovah's character and grace is the power he uses to change our hearts to be like Him.

    We are born with a self-centered heart and only by a miracle of a new spiritual birth can it be changed to an other-centered heart.

  25. Mr. Ben, So Am I right if I keep the Sabbath, worship the Lord alone then on Sunday I worship with other Protestant Christians of My Church? If I'm not right, then why?

    • I'm not Mr Ben, but I understand that Paul tells us not to "neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another." (Heb 10:25 NLT) Throughout history, God's people have recognized the Sabbath as a special day of assembly to encourage one another, and it is still good for the same purpose today.

      If no Sabbath-keeping congregation is available in your vicinity, then what you suggest would be one solution. But if there is a Sabbath-keeping congregation, I would encourage you to seek them out and see if they may not also have some other truths that will draw you closer to God. If you choose to put God first in your life, He will guide you in ways you cannot yet imagine.

      And even if/when you find a Sabbath-keeping congregation, it is not necessary to cut out your current Sunday-keeping friends and your time of meeting with them. God wants you to share with them how He is blessing you. 🙂

      May God bless you abundantly as you seek to draw closer to Him.

  26. Kipsang, from your responses I get that you are a member of a protestant church that worships on Sunday. Your dilemma seems to be that you believe that the seventh day is the Sabbath and would like to keep it. However, you want to remain with your church family. Ask yourself the question, by worshipping with them am I witnessing to them and introducing them to the true day of worship. Or am I hiding my light under a bushel. We have to take a stand. If I believe in God and His Word, my actions must show my belief. I will keep you in my prayers.

  27. yeah, Eileen, I'm from a protestant church. I'm not ready to change to be an adventist because I do not find any problem with my current church. however, I would like to keep the Sabbath. What would you advise me to do? Inge, I can be meeting other Christians on Sunday.

    • Kipsang, what we think you should do doesn't really matter, does it?

      What you need is direction from God, and you need to earnestly seek Him on the matter. I'll just repeat what I suggested earlier:

      If there is a Sabbath-keeping congregation, I would encourage you to seek them out and see if they may not also have some other truths that will draw you closer to God. If you choose to put God first in your life, He will guide you in ways you cannot yet imagine.

      We are to continually grow in our relationship with God, and that implies that we may expect to learn truths that are new to us.

  28. You are confusing the 10 commandments, with Jesus's commandments. Jesus' 2 commandments:
    Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.

    • Ronda, I don't think that Pastor Earnhardt is confused. When a lawyer tested Jesus and asked him about the "great commandment," Jesus did not give new commandments but repeated a well-known summary of the Ten Commandments. Read it in Mark 12:28-34. The lawyer did not see Christ's answer as something new, but accepted Christ's answer as truth and reiterated it himself in slightly different words. (You can also find these summaries in Deut. 11:13 and Lev. 19:18.) For more on this subject read, "God’s Law: The One, the Two, the Ten and the Many."

  29. After reading “most” of the comments I still don’t understand the expression of “washing our robes”, as the Bible tells us “none righteous, none seek after God”.

    It is God Who clothes us with the garment of righteousness. Therefore, what is the point of washing my robe, since HE is to clothe me with His robe of righteousness?

    • Hi, Nita. It's a good question. Revelation 7:14 (NKJV) says:

      "So he said to me, 'These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'"

      So the book of Revelation definitely does speak of us washing our robes in the blood of Jesus. Is it He who actually does the washing? As I understand it, yes, Jesus is the one who cleanses our hearts from sin, and covers us with His righteousness. But He does not do any of this without our consent. And maybe that last part is what can make sense of these verses.

      I hope this helps.


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