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Sabbath: The Two Covenants — 13 Comments

  1. Since Adam's fall in the Garden of Eden we have been living in the era of new covenant. This covenant is the covenant of grace through believing in Jesus Christ for salvation.

  2. We should be ready and feel emboldened to present God's word without hesitation that His grace has been consisting with His Charater. And salvation is of God's grace alone. For too long the our brothers and sisters (none Sda's) who like us love Jesus Christ too, were preaching that all these time yet they had other issues. Now we should be ready to witness for Jesus. Because He is coming soon.

  3. Agreed. Salvation was never by obedience to the law.

    If I am understanding what I am reading correctly, the two covenants "are reflective of human attitudes" and "represent two different ways of trying to relate to God."

    "The old covenant represents those who ... rely on their own obedience as a means of pleasing God; ... the new covenant represents the experience of those who ... rely wholly upon God’s grace to do all that He has promised."

    This seems to reduce the covenants to the intangible elements of "attitudes," "experiences," and behavior.

    However, the bible clearly defines the old covenant as an actual agreement, a tangible document. There are no representations of attitudes or behavior or experiences, but specific line by line, and word by word content.

    Ex 34:28 - And He wrote on the tablets the "words of the covenant," the Ten Commandments.

    Deut 4:13 - So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone.

    Deut 9:9,11 - When I went up into the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water. And it came to pass, at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant.

    Heb 8:13 - In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

    Therefore, the covenant (that has generally been termed the old covenant) was not a reflection of human attitudes, but a specific agreement, containing parties to the agreement, performance requirements, a covenant sign, and inherent conditions.

    • Fred, I don't think the lesson author's concept of the two covenants being "reflective of human attitudes" and yours that they are "an actual agreement, a tangible document" are mutually exclusive concepts that stands in opposition to each other.I believe they compliment each other.

      Paul states that the creation of the "tangible document", which he describes as "holy and just and good" (Rm 7:12), was for aiding humans to identify "attitudes" now resident in all of us (Rm 7:7,21; 5:20) and which is the workings of a Being in opposition to our benevolent Creator. That "tangible document" was also created to highlight the human dilemma of our awareness of the disconnected gulf between the knowledge we've been provided and our ability to CONSISTENTLY live (James 2:10; Gal 3:10) in accordance with that "holy and just and good" knowledge (Rm 7:18; Gal 5:17). Praise God, that gulf has been connected in Christ (Rm 8:3-4; 7:4)!

      I find it interesting, and thank God for the harmony between the Old and New Testament, that on the occasion when two "tangible documents" were established (Ex 24:7,12; 31:18) that God clearly warned His people regarding their true condition (Dt 5:29; 29:1,4; 31:19,21,26-27,29). It is an unfortunate irony that "human attitudes" ALWAYS confirms (Isaiah 48:1,4-5,8) our Creator to be a "God of truth" (Dt 32:4; Jer 17:9-10). Praise God for His unspeakable Gift--NOW firmly committed to healing broken hearts, restoring blinded eyes (Lk 4:18) and unstopping deaf ears (Isaiah 35:4-5)!

      • Lynrol

        Excellent points! Thanks for sharing.

        According to Scripture, there came an end to the Old covenant and then its replacement by the New. The old covenant has already been described and identified in the previous post. 2 Cor 3:6,7 identifies the old covenant as having been written and engraved in stone, while it states that the new covenant is of the Spirit and is much more glorious. So much so, that Paul identifies the old covenant with the bondwoman Hagar, Gal 4:30, (and he was not talking about "attitudes" but a specific instructive arrangement), then he admonishes us to cast out the bond woman. Heb 8:13 reminds us that the old covenant has become obsolete and has vanished. There are numerous other passages of Scripture that confirm the same teaching, not just one "proof text."

        As Adventists, we are afraid of these thoughts because they seem to go against our basic doctrine of the permanency of the Decalogue and even its carry-over into eternity. What many fail to really grasp is that there are principles that pre-existed before Sinai that were inserted into the Covenant, and are eternal principles which cannot be abrogated. These principles are written in the heart under the New Covenant by the Holy Spirit – Jer 31:33, and not on parchment, stone, or prescriptive writing. 2 Cor 3:6.

        We are also afraid that the Sabbath is threatened under such thinking. However, if we believe and teach that the Sabbath existed in Gen 2:2,3 before sin, then under our teaching anything that reduces the efficacy of the Decalogue does not affect or discard the Sabbath. Additionally, all of the other principles in the Decalogue were interpreted and expanded on by Jesus in Matt 5 and elsewhere in the four gospels to show the heart and motive dimension of those principles as opposed to a written set of rules and directives. Jesus' explanations and expansion do not negate the principles and instruction contained in the Ten Commandments, but actually show that the underlying principles are from the heart of God.

        Consequently, for us to ever think of the Old Covenant and its contents as a body of material which are applicable to our Christian life, is to deny the role and power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the born again child of God; to discard the teaching of scripture as given through God's apostles and Jesus Christ Himself; to rely on the flesh to accomplish righteous living; and to pattern our experience after the failed experience of the Children of Israel.

        • Fred, I'm not sure that based on your response you completely appreciate the premise of my original response. My basic understanding of Scripture's teaching is that GOD'S MINISTRY TOWARDS HUMANS IS ALWAYS GOOD, EVEN WHEN IT IS TRANSITORY. For example, Jesus expresses that concept this way in Mt 19:8, which is consistent with Ezekiel's declaration in Eze 20:25. Please note that Jesus was saying that His second act of ministry (divorce permission) was INFERIOR to His ORIGINAL act of ministry (marriage permanence), the reason for which Scripture providentially records (Mt 19:7-8)--BECAUSE those recipients HAD A SERIOUS HEART(MIND) PROBLEM!

          In my original response, it was my intent to demonstrate from the Scripture this principle that Jesus taught. When applied to the discussion of the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants we learn that:

          1) The Abrahamic Covenant was an allegorical ministry to teach about THE Gospel (Gal 3:8) that Jesus would actually fulfill (Lk 4:18,21; Gal 3:16) in accordance with His Father's timetable.

          2) The Abrahamic Covenant, which was given first, was SUPERIOR to the Mosaic Covenant (Gal 3:17).

          3) The Abrahamic Covenant ministered to not just Jews, but to BOTH Jews and Gentiles (Gal 3:13-14; Rm 3:28-30; 5:18).

          4) The Mosaic Covenant was primarily a ministry to Jews (but Gentiles should take note 1 Cor 10:11; Heb 3:12-13!!)

          5) Like divorce, given to Jews under the ministry of Moses, the Moral (Ex 31:8; Ex 24:12) and Ceremonial (Ex 24:7) laws were given to God's people to bring them to an awareness of their true condition--that they had a MIND/HEART PROBLEM (Dt 5:29; Heb 3:10, 15-16). HARDNESS OF MIND/HEART, whether in Eden or today's sin ravaged societies, ALWAYS destroys our Divine and social relationships as depicted in the first four and second six of the Ten Commandments. My point being that SIN has never been about laws, but the INHERENT NATURE of the FALLEN human MIND (Rm 7:13-14,23)--Jew and Gentile.

          Having stated all of the above, is Lynrol for law or against law; for or against covenants; for or against religion; for or against social order? Here's perhaps my best current answer...Lynrol is VEHEMENTLY AGAINST the SIN I now acknowledge to be WITHIN MYSELF (Mk 7:21-23; Rm 7:24), and also know, is not a solitary condition (Isaiah 6:5; 53:6)!

          With respect to this comment you made ("As Adventists, we are afraid of these thoughts because they seem to go against our basic doctrine of the permanency of the Decalogue and even its carry-over into eternity...We are also afraid that the Sabbath is threatened under such thinking"), I respond within the allegory we're discussing: Sons (offsprings) of God, like Abraham, are born by faith (Gal 3:26). Like Abraham, they're called to "get out of...country...family...father's house" (Gen 12:1) and are not primarily defined by their national/religious/ethnic, status or gender identities (Gal 3:28). If "Adventist" and "afraid (fear)" become the primary ways we define ourselves we replace God's primary definition of "sons of God" with these (Gal 5:2), which then governs how we live our lives. This harmonizes with Jesus' teaching on God's primacy (Mt 22:36-38) in the lives of all believers (1 Cor 12:13), mandating the motivation for their every step (Eze 36:26-27).

  4. Some pick and choose scripture for different reasons. Some find that there are portions of scripture less important than others. I probably would not choose all the begat-s, even though all scripture is inspired. Accurately understanding what is read in the Bible, is the main purpose and reason that the scripture is available. To apply what is being read needs guidance from the Holy Spirit. Prayer is always suggested prior to reading the word of God. --- Covenants, regardless of the number or times, are God given for His purposes.

  5. How do we by grace, "Do all that God has promised?" God has promised to give me an incorruptible and eternal body, how do I do that? So how do I by grace, accomplish this for myself? Maybe we should say that by grace and through faith we will do all that God commands and trust him to do for us all that he has promised to do for us.

    • These are the process questions that need to be asked, discussed & answered in churches.

      OT--"Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon." Is 55:7

      NT--"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Cor 10:5

      " All are free moral agents, and as such they must bring their thoughts to run in the right channel.... If Satan seeks to divert the mind to low and sensual things, bring it back again, and place it on eternal things; and when the Lord sees the determined effort made to retain only pure thoughts, He will attract the mind, like the MAGNET, and Purify the THOUGHTS.... The first work of those who would reform is to purify the imagination." Our High Calling p 337

      "When it is in the heart to obey God, when EFFORTS are put forth to this end, Jesus ACCEPTS this disposition and EFFORT as man's best service, and He makes up for the deficiency with His own divine merit." Selected Messages V1 p382

  6. The old covenant was written on tables of stone in mt Sinai, the new covenant is placed in our hearts and is written on our minds- Jeremiah 31v33 and Hebrews 10v16. Notice that the contents (terms) of both covenants are the same. The same commandments given to Moses on tables of stone are the ones now placed in our hearts. God's interested on a relationship with us. The new covenant makes it easier for us to relate to God since the law is now in our hearts and mind. All we need is to believe- salvation is by grace through faith.

  7. I`d like to address the negative statement of Paul referring to the Mount-Sinai-Covenant als bearing children for slavery. (Galatians 4:24) I`m struggling with the question as to what Paul could have in mind writing these inspired lines. It seems to be a problem of constellation. Paul says that the law is holy, just and good, on one hand (Romans 7:12), while on the other hand he says that a carnal mind set would be at enmity against God, not being willing to be subordinate to the law, even not being able to do so. (Romans 8:7) A constellation like that could be comparable with water being poured out into a pan with boiling oil, which would generate an explosive turmoil.

    Such a constellation took place at Sinai. God`s people are described as being stiff-necked and stubborn. (Exodus 32:9; Deuteronomy 9:6) Over against such a condition God revealed his holy law with such expected results. Post-Sinai history shows a continual insubordinate attitude to God`s holy law amounting to rebellion, which indicates a state of sin slavery. This sad history begins with the idolatry of the golden calf only a few weeks after God had proclaimed his holy law at Sinai, (Exodus 32:7-8) lasting for forty years (Psalm 95:10; Hebrews 3:17), extending up to the exile, even reaching right into apostolic times when Stephen testified to his persecutors that they are stiff-necked and not having kept the law (Acts 7:51.53) --- again the constellation of the holy law on one hand and a carnal mind set on the other.

    Right at Sinai God had a solution to that problem. The people said, all the Lord had spoken they would hear and do. (Deuteronomy 5:27) God answered that they have well said so. (Deuteronomy 5:28) But He desired such a heart in them that they would fear him and keep all the commandments always, (Deuteronomy 5:29) which is echoed in the Shma Jisrael, hear, O Israel,(Deuteronomy 6:6) taken up by Paul in his letter to the Galatians speaking of a new creation. (Galatians 6:15) This would bring about a new attitude to the holy law and to keeping God`s commandments. Whereas at Sinai redemption from Egyptian slavery was accomplished and finished by grace alone: passing through the see(Exodus 20:1), those keeping the commandments with the a right new heart are under grace, as grace had already accomplished all before. (compare 1 Peter 1:18-19)

    The Galatians were lapsed into a carnal mind setting as they devoured one another, (Galatians 5:15) at the same time misusing the holy law to earn God`s righteousness by works of the law (Galatians 5:4; 2:16) --- which reveals the condition of getting caught in sin-slavery. Freedom from this condition by accepting Christ`s righteousness is the only way out. Trying to illustrate this, Paul is using the allegory of Hagar (Covenant of Sinai sin-slavery as shown above) and Hagar (Covenant of Abrahamic Promise pointing to Christ) ushering in Freedom from sin-slavery by accepting God`s righteousness by grace through faith. (Romans 3:21-24) In the end Paul`s negative statement on the Sinai Covenant turns out to be positive in salvation history.

    Winfried Stolpmann

    • Winfried

      Paul says that the law is holy, just and good, on one hand (Romans 7:12), while, if you look at his preface leading up to that verse you get the context – Rom 7:4,6 – “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God… we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.”

      Similarly, in Rom 3:31 he says, “do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.” But leading up to that, Rom 3:20 he shows that the law gives us a knowledge of where we have fallen short, and he continues to show the weakness of the law in justifying us or making us righteous. There are numerous texts that say that same thing. Rom 8:2-4; Gal 2:16-21; Gal 3:19-26; Gal 4:3-5 are just a few.

      Therefore, verses like the ones you cite may not stand on their own and have to viewed in the context of the entire passage leading up to them. In doing so, there is no misunderstanding of what Paul is saying.

      Medicine is good, very good, if it is used for the purpose for which it was intended. The law was given for a specific purpose – Gal 3:19. If we seek to use it for any other purpose, the desired benefit may not result.

      Your statement that “in the end Paul`s negative statement on the Sinai Covenant turns out to be positive in salvation history,” is absolutely true in that we can learn that our victory, our salvation and source of strength and guidance for daily living do not come from the law, but by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit and walking in the Spirit.

      Therefore, I see no constellation in the passages you cited.


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