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The Law of Moses or the Law of Christ?

The Law of Christ Has Replaced the Law of Moses:

A Dispensational Analysis of The Law of God


Introduction

Two main systems of theology exist in Christian circles. One theological system named "Covenant theology" emphasizes the "deep sense of continuity between the OT and the NT."[1] This system of theology differs in essence from the contrasting system of theology known as "Dispensationalism." Dispensationalism emphasizes the "that there is much variety in the divine economy of the Bible, that God has dealt differently with men during different eras of biblical history."[2] Sometimes the two systems have been titled "continuity" (representing the Covenant tradition) and "discontinuity" (representing the Dispensational tradition).[3] These two systems certainly have similarities, as the two systems are not totally opposite of one another. Both systems recognize elements of agreement in the progress of revelation.[4]

This writer, as do others with much higher credibility and perspicacity,[5] thinks the Dispensational system is truly the best approach for fully understanding the work of God in history. Regrettably, these two systems and the practical differences between the systems when applied are not often understood. Dr. John MacArthur has even noted that many come out of theological seminaries today without grasping the essence and difference between the two main systems of theology. He has said of this educational tragedy, "I've met seminary graduates and many in Christian leadership who haven't the slightest idea how to define dispensationalism [nor] [h]ow does it differ from Covenant theology?"[6] Some of this may be due to the fact that academic theologians sometimes fail to effectively communicate truth in such ways that the mass populace of Christians can grasp and utilize it in their life and/or ministry. Sometimes academic circles have a tendency to only talk among themselves.[7] This type of teaching and theological training does not represent the type of teaching Christ modeled. One may rightly conclude that Christianity "is indeed rational" but it is not "rationalism;" Christianity certainly is "intellectual, but it is not intellectualism."[8] True education, if it is Christian oriented, must relate to "everyday life."[9]

Therein is where the problem arises in the issue of Dispensational theology versus Covenant theology. Many teachers, pastors, laymen, seminarians, and others related to the work of ministry fail to comprehend how does one system over the other make a difference in life. Every theologian would do well to consider one element of truth that the father of pragmatism has asked. William James (1842-1910) stated that:

Pragmatism . . . asks its usual question. "Grant an idea of belief to be true," it says, "what concrete difference will its being true make in any one's actual life? How will truth be realized? What experiences will be different from those which would obtain if the belief were false? What, in short, is the truth's cash-value in experiential terms?"[10]

Therefore, the question posed in this paper is this: what difference does a Dispensational theology make in the practical life of a believer? The answer and thesis of this paper is that the application of a Dispensational theology does indeed make a practical difference in the lives of New Covenant believers. Dispensational theology is not an aloof philosophy that lacks practical implications for the daily life of a believer. The area of focus for this article will be concerning the issue of what law does the believer live underneath. The two systems of theology differ in this area ideologically and, at least in two concepts, pragmatically. A Dispensational theology, because of its emphasis and legitimate recognition of discontinuity through dispensational changes due to God's progress of revelation, believes that the New Covenant has ushered in a new law. A Covenant theology, because of its emphasis on testament unity without a proper recognition of dispensational changes due to its faulty understanding of the progress of revelation,[11] places the Old Covenant law of Moses on the believer of this new age.

The application of Dispensational theology frees the saint to live and fulfill the law of Christ in the Spirit without the hindrance of the Mosaic Law that has been rendered inoperative for the New Covenant believer.[12] The application of a Covenant theology system, on the other hand, does indeed hurt the sanctification of a believer as much as it confuses the saint in regard to his or her understanding of how to discern what law he or she is required to live by. These concepts and contrasting views will be explored through this paper.


Shall We Follow the Old Covenant Law, the New Covenant Law, or Both?

The two systems of theology, Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology, stress two different views of the law of God. The Dispensationalist sees the Law of Moses as the 613 regulations prescribed by God to the Old Covenant community, which is not binding upon the Christian of the New Covenant age.[13] However, those from the Covenant tradition believe that the Old Testament moral law, which is summarized in the Ten Commandments, is the "ethical norm" for a New Covenant Christian.[14]

The difference is somewhat complex because at first sight one may think that the Covenant theologian believes that the entire Old Covenant law applies to the believer today. In light of Dr. Walter Kaiser, who steers a middle road between the two systems of theology,[15] it would be easy to believe that this is precisely the law, the Old Covenant law, that God inscribes on the heart when a person believes in Christ. Kaiser argues, in this one area at least, as a Covenant theologian when he stresses that it is the Torah that God writes on a believer's heart.[16] Specifically, Dr. Kaiser argues this point from his analysis of Jeremiah 31:33, "it is the same 'law' God revealed to Moses that is to be put on the hearts of all who believe in the new covenant."[17]

However, when a person evaluates the views of the law from the Covenant theological tradition you will notice that the laws certainly do not carry over exactly as it may at first seem when reading their arguments. All Covenant theologians make adjustments to the law. A common presentation for the Covenant theologian is to argue for the "Threefold use of the Law."[18] In this aspect the Covenant theologian argues for the principle from the law but not that each and every specific law applies to the believer. Only the "moral law of God" that is revealed to us "is always binding upon us."[19] However, when one begins to ask what is the moral law of God the Covenant theologian is forced to cancel and make adjustments to the Old Covenant law because no Christian Covenant theologian can apply all of the law of God from the Old Covenant onto the new Covenant believer. If they did so it would require at the least for the Christian to begin making sacrifices again. This is one reason why Dr. Lewis Sperry said that anyone who does not make sacrifices or worship on the Sabbath is a Dispensationalist.[20] 

Therefore, to alleviate this problem the Covenant theologian will almost invariably divide the law into three divisions such as with the civil, ceremonial, and moral law of God.[21] The civil and ceremonial laws are then said to be no longer obligatory whereas the moral law of God remains obligatory. Still this leaves the question open. What laws then in the Old Testament should we consider moral laws that are still binding on the believer in Christ today in the New Covenant age? The Covenant theologian's approach to this question seems terribly confusing. In one sense they argue the "Torah" applies today. Then they argue that some parts of the Torah do not apply such as the civil and ceremonial laws.

Yet then again they contradict this by asserting that the moral law of God, the Ten Commandments, applies to all Christians today. But is not the law of Sabbath worship ceremonial?[22] Or should it be considered a moral law? And if it is considered a moral law then by what objective standard does the interpreter use to determine why the Sabbath law is a moral law instead of a ceremonial law? Furthermore, how does a Christian come know what laws are obligatory and not obligatory if the standard of determining the moral from civil and ceremonial is arbitrary and subjective? Practically the Covenant theologian leaves the Christian in a maze of confusion by trying to place the Old Covenant law on the new Covenant believer. The subjectivity of this leaves people in a position of falling prey to teachers and leaders that may arbitrarily pick and choose what laws from the Old Covenant to apply to the New Covenant believer. The confusion is a natural result of a faulty approach to the question of God's law. The Covenant theologian has to "fudge" here and there in determining what laws to apply today. No one from this system can be consistent in how to apply the Old Testament law of God to the New Testament believer because the Covenant theologian has to made modifications arbitrarily. As Dr. Fruchtenbuam rightly says in criticism of the Covenant approach:

No covenant theologian accepts his own thesis since he must believe in doing away in some form of many of the commandments of the Law of Moses, if not most. The commandments concerning the priesthood and sacrifice are only one example and others can be cited (food laws, clothing laws, etc.). Regardless of what semantics may be used to describe this change ("supersede," "brought to greater fulfillment," "bringing out it's true fulfillment," et al.), it is clear that a great many of the 613 commandments no longer apply as they were written . . . . True, Jesus did come to fulfill the law; but the Law of Moses did not end with the coming of the Messiah, or by His life, but by His death. As long as He was alive, He was under the Mosaic Law and had to fulfill and obey every commandment applicable to Him. . . . while He was living, and as long as He was living He had to obey the Law of Moses in everymanner that Moses commanded and not in the way that the rabbis had reinterpreted it. Even while He was living, he already implied the doing away of the law. Once [sic] example is Mark 7:19: this he said making all meats clean. Can it be any clearer than this that at least the dietary commandments have been done away? Again, all Covenant theologians must admit that great parts of the law no longer apply in the manner prescribed by Moses. Have they been done away with or not? To constantly claim that the Law of Moses is still in effect and/or that it is the same as the Law of Christ, while ignoring the details of that same law, is inconsistent and a theological fallacy.[23] 

This confusion calls for the Christian to reevaluate the manner of following the law of God. To maintain objectivity and to protect the saints of God from arbitrary and erroneous applications of the Mosaic Law, one must solve the question of what law are we to follow? Is there more than one law of God? Is the Law of Moses different from the New Covenant law found in the New Testament? What constitutes the moral law of God? Is the Christian under the Ten Commandments as stated in the Old Testament? Such questions need answers.

Christians Are Only Under the Law of Christ

The New Testament announces that a great advancement, change, or adjustment has been made to the progress of God's revelation. No matter from what tradition of theology, Covenant or Dispensational, almost invariably all agree that the New Covenant brought with it some sort of change in God's program to humanity. The degree of differences certainly varies from one school to the other. Covenant theologians in their language attempt to minimize the differences and draw as much continuity between the two testaments whereas the Dispensationalist recognizes more of the discontinuity especially in the areas of Israel and God's law to Israel and the Church.

There are only three basic options in regard to the question of what law must one follow as a Christian: (1) the saint must observe all of the Mosaic Law as it fully applies today without any variations (no Christian theology supports this position as it would require sacrifices and a return to Judaism), (2) the saint must observe some of the Mosaic Law with some variations as given by the adjustments from the New Testament (most Covenantal theologians adopt this ideology), and (3) the saint must only observe the New Covenant law of Christ as given by Christ and explained by the apostles (Dispensational theologians, a modified Lutheran theology, and New Covenant theology supports this view).

Before going to Scripture a philosophical question could certainly assist the reader in setting up the right approach to this debate. Would it not be a good idea to begin with God's law as eternally binding unless otherwise rescinded? In other words, if you begin with God's revelation in the Old Testament and follow its development would it not be wise to uphold and continue to follow that law until God says otherwise? An evaluation of the words of Christ certainly seem to set in perspective the eternality of the revelation of God's word.

Matthew 5:17-19

Christ upheld the Law from the Old Testament as an eternal standard. Therefore, one must initially begin with the idea that the Law of God cannot be "abolished" but that it will remain until all things that were spoken in the "Law and Prophets" are fulfilled (vs. 17). Does this then automatically mean that the Mosaic Law continues even into the New Covenant age? No, it does not necessarily mean that. The context of Christ at this juncture in God's stage of revelation is the key to understanding this text.

First, Christ articulated that there was a goal of the Law, meaning the Old Covenant Law, and this goal of the law was to arrive or be fulfilled. In contrast to this Christ noted that the Law would not be abolished. Secondly, Christ noted that the Law would not cease to exist until something is accomplished. Again, as with the first point, Christ gives another indicator that there will come a time when something occurs to bring about the fulfillment or accomplishment of the Old Covenant Law.What then fulfills this Old Covenant Law? The life of Christ ultimately fulfills the Old Covenant Law. As Dr. John MacArthur notes, "In His incarnation, in the work of His Holy Spirit through the church, and in His coming again Jesus would fulfill all of the law-moral, judicial, and ceremonial."[24] This then raises a question. If Christ fulfills the law then does the New Testament saint have to follow the specific regulations of the Mosaic Law? Does Scripture ever release the Christian from the Old Testament code of Moses?

A simple answer may fall into an error of oversimplification. However, a brief answer followed by an explanation will hopefully suffice. The Old Covenant Law is fulfilled in Christ and applied to the Church through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:4) in the form of a new revelation that brings with it a new law code. Since Christ fulfills the Law of Moses, and due to the progress of revelation, a new law has been instituted and placed upon the New Testament saint. Has the Old Covenant Law been canceled? In one sense it has. The Old Covenant Law no longer is binding upon the one who has come to Christ, because Christ fulfills that law and places the saint under a new law code, the law of Christ. However, in another sense the Mosaic Law has not been canceled since it is still in existence and functions through Jesus Christ who is the eternal fulfillment of that Law Code. This explanation seems to be the best way to explain the other inspired statements of Scripture whereby the Mosaic Law has been rendered inoperative for the saint of the New Covenant Age. Of course, this does not deny that a saint may find principles from the Old Covenant that may apply today. An example would be when a civil leader looks to the Old Testament to see how God ruled the nation of Israel and then draws principles from that for the current day.

In essence the Mosaic Law of the Old Covenant lasted until Christ rendered it inoperative through his fulfillment of the Law code. The Law still exists and is useful to the Christian by its "prophetic witness"[25] but not by way of application to the daily life of the Christian unless Christ states a certain precept from that law code again in the New Covenant administration.[26] If the New Testament had not of clearly revealed such a change from the Mosaic Law to the law of Christ then under the statements of Christ in Matthew 5:17-19 the believer would still have to live under the Mosaic Code. However, since the life and death of Christ and the progress of God's revelation in his development of history the New Covenant revelation and law supersedes the Old Covenant Law of Moses.

A New Testament Analysis: The Old Covenant Mosaic Law Is Inoperative

A preliminary analysis before a book-by-book textual analysis of the New Testament presents several truths pertaining to the law of God for the New Covenant age. First, when the church received the baptismal work of the Spirit in Acts 2 the new entity was "empowered and quickened."[27] Though in some sense the church, meaning the assembly of faith or the household of God, may have existed in a technical sense before Pentecost of Acts 2, the declaration by Christ that he would build his church (Matt. 16:18) is a strong indicator of something new to come since the writer used the future tense verb in the Greek language.[28]

Second, Peter mentioned this time of Pentecost as the "beginning" (Acts 11:15-16).[29] The question one should ask is the beginning of what? Should the reader take this Pentecostal baptism of the Spirit in Acts to mean the beginning of a new entity (a Dispensational/Discontinuity approach) or the continuation of God's work in a higher form (more of a Covenant/Continuity approach)? Scripture seems to clearly indicate and emphasize that something new began in this new era instead of emphasizing and indicating that this work of God followed suit with a high degree of continuity.

Third, Paul's teaching indicates this when he said illustrated the point that the "church was unknown in the Old Testament (Eph. 3:5)."[30] Even a non-Dispensational theologian Dr. Millard J. Erickson agrees that the church did not officially begin until Pentecost.[31] This new entity therefore brought about a new set of revelation from God via the inspired apostles. Dr. Robert L. Thomas states that this new "special divine revelation [was] necessary to give this new program a relationship with what God had been doing throughout the Old Testament period."[32] Though continuity exists between the new work of God from the previous Covenant period, the continuity is not because of a simple continuation in the progress of God's Old Covenant development into the new Testament age. In other words, there is a new and distinct body of revelation for a new body or organism of the New Testament age. The revelation or Old Covenant revelation is not simply expanded or enhanced. The new work of God is distinctly new from the Old Covenant era. This new era, with a new people and new work, calls for a new law distinct from the Old Covenant Mosaic Law. A book-by-book textual analysis of this will prove the general overview above.

Romans 7:1-6

The presentation made by Paul clearly establishes the point that the Old Covenant Law, the Mosaic Law, had authority over the believers. But now through the death of Christ this Mosaic Law has been canceled as the principle of authority over the saint. The natural illustration in this passage of a woman who is under the law of the husband until he dies, when at that point she is released from the law of her husband, signifies that a change takes place upon the death of the husband (vv. 1-3). Paul then sets forth the clear application of that illustration by stating that we, the believers, are dead to the Law of Moses because with Christ we died to the Law in order that we might be "joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead" (vs. 4b NASB). In verse 6 Paul states the same idea with additional clarification. He adds that "now we have been released from the Law . . . so that we serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter" (vs. 6 NASB). Dr. Fruchtenbaum comments that this text states "one is either married to the Law or to the Messiah but cannot be married to both."[33] This new union releases the believer from the Mosaic Law to live under a new era of Christ's rule. In this new epoch of time, dispensation, "our relationship to the law has changed" in that "it now has no authority over the life of the saint."[34]

Romans 10:4

There is some debate as to what the Greek word teleoj-teleos means.[35] Some consider this word means "goal." Others consider this word to mean "completion of fulfillment." Then some consider the word to mean "termination."[36] The differences of these terms should not however confuse the reader because in any of the three senses the same point results. If Christ is the goal of the Mosaic Law then that goal has been met since Christ has come. If Christ is the fulfillment or completion of the Law then the Law does not need the saints to live by it for Christ has completed the rule or administration of the Mosaic Law. If Christ is the termination of the Law it is because he has met its goal and completed the Mosaic Law through his life and death. The practical result of any of the three definitions means that Christ is now the focus not the Mosaic Law of the Old Covenant. Some of the most preeminent Greek Scholars of the world define this word as "termination." Marvin Vincent, Joseph Henry Thayer[37], Spiros Zodhiates[38], and W.F. Arndt and F.W. Gingrich[39] all list the primary meaning of this Greek word teleoj as termination. With that weight of evidence coupled with the previous discussion by Paul in Romans 7, one is hard pressed to extract a meaning from this text that Paul thought the Mosaic Law did continue to function as an authority over the believer. Even the non-dispensational scholar Dr. Moo agrees that the Mosaic Law finds its termination or goal in Christ Jesus, which means that the Mosaic Law pointed to Christ "and [the Mosaic law] is dethroned from its position of significance in mediating God's will to his people with the coming of Christ."[40] 

2 Corinthians 3:2-11

Paul in this text gives a comparison of the Old Covenant Law, particularly the Law as given in the Ten Commandments that were engraved in stones (vs. 7)[41], to the New Covenant law that is given not by letter but by the Spirit (vs. 6). This New Covenant administration differs from the Old Covenant administration significantly in that the new brings with it a ministry of more glory (vs. 8) with its ministry of righteousness instead of the ministry of condemnation as with the Old Covenant Law (vv. 8-9). This contrast that Paul provides shows that he realized a new age had been inaugurated that was discontinuous from the previous age. The two ministries of the ages were different. The Old Covenant dispensation "killed" were as the New Covenant dispensation "gives life" (vs. 6).In this text Paul uses a rabbinic method of exegesis by arguing from the lesser to the greater. Paul "argues that the new covenant is accompanied by far greater splendor. The superiority of new covenant is argued on three accounts: (a) the ministry of the Spirit is more splendid than the ministry of death, (b) the ministry of righteousness is more splendid than that of condemnation, and (c) the permanent ministry is more splendid than that which fades away."[42] As David K. Lowery stated, the ministry of the Old Covenant was intended to become obsolete.[43]

Practically speaking this text also enlightens the reader to the issue of the authority of the Ten Commandments. More will be said to this issue under the practical implications of the shift from the Law of Moses to the Law of Christ, but is suffices to say that this one text reveals that the believer of the New Covenant era does not live under the authority of the Sabbath since it is the one commandment of the Ten Commandments that Christ did not establish in the New Covenant age. All nine of the other commandments are given in a new form under the inspiration of writers of the New Testament except for the Sabbath law. Dr. Fruchtenbaum argues this point.

2 Corinthians 3:2-11 . . . zeroes right in on the part of the law that most people want to retain, the Ten Commandments. First of all, one needs to see what Paul is saying concerning the Law of Moses. In verse seven it is called the ministration of death. In verse nine it is called the ministration of condemnation. These are negative, but valid, descriptions. In verses three and seven the spotlight is on the Ten Commandments since it is these which were engraven on stones. The main point then is that the Law of Moses, especially as represented by the Ten Commandments, is a "ministration of death" and a "ministration of condemnation." If the Ten Commandments were still in force today, this would still be true. However, they are no longer in force, for it states in verses seven and eleven that the law has "passed away." The Greek word used is katergeo, which means "to render inoperative." Since the emphasis in this passage is on the Ten Commandments, this means that the Ten commandments have passed away. The thrust is very clear. The Law of Moses, and especially the Ten Commandments, is no longer in effect. In fact, the superiority of the Law of Christ is seen by the fact that it will never be rendered inoperative. Unlike Covenant Theology, Dispensationalism does not insist that the Ten Commandments are till in force and do exegetical gymnastics to avoid observing the Sabbath, the very way the Ten Commandments actually require.[44] 

As already stated, the practical difference of the Law of Christ versus the Law of Moses does not make a large difference in actual laws. Some people seem to gasp at the thought the Ten Commandments,, as given by Moses do not apply today for the believer. Such trepidation need not exist however when one realizes that the New Covenant law prescribes nine of the ten in the new dispensation. Murder, idolatry, stealing, coveting, sexual sins, coveting, false testimony, honoring ones parents, and not misusing God's name are each articulated by the Law of Christ within the New Testament. No one should sound the alarm of heresy over this distinction. More will be discussed later concerning the practical implications of the Law Code change.

Galatians 3:19; 3:23-4:7

Galatians 3:19 has provided the time indicator when the Mosaic Law would cease to have authority. The Mosaic Law functioned as the authority of the family of God "until the seed would come" (vs. 19). The great Reformer, Dr. Martin Luther said of this: "When Paul adds, 'Till the seed should come to whom the promise was made,' he sets a limit to the law. For it ought to be known how long the power and tyranny of the law ought to endure . . . Thus the law ends, when Christ that blessed seed is come."[45]The purpose of the Law of Moses until the coming of Christ, who would inaugurate a new law, was to point to Christ, who is the goal or teleoj-teleos of the Law of Moses. The Mosaic Law was only a tutor (vs. 3:25) to the children (vs. 4:3) of God that lived during the time of the "elemental things of the world" (vs. 4:3). When Christ came he "lived under the Law so that he might redeem those who were under the Law" (vs. 4:4b-5a NASB). The symbolism of the "tutor" concept shows that the Mosaic Law is not a permanent rule. The Mosaic Law existed until Christ came forth with the administration of his law of grace and power (John 1:17). With Luther the believer can say, "we are fully delivered from the law; therefore, a schoolmaster no longer rules over us."[46] Christ Jesus has delivered his people from the Mosaic Law that he lived and died under. Now through his life in the Spirit the believer is placed under Christ's Law.

Acts 15 and Ephesians 2:14-15

The early church wrestled with the development of God's program with his household of faith. The family of God, which is one family with at least two peoples in it, Israel and the Church,[47] debated this very issue of the Mosaic Law and how it applies to the Christian saint (Acts 15:5-6). The Jerusalem Conference resulted in a ruling that the Mosaic Law had ended and that the Jewish segment of the Church should not place onto the Gentile segment of the Church the Mosaic Law. As James stated under divine inspiration, "Therefore, it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles" (Acts 15:19). The matter was agreed upon by all the elders and apostles and then communicated to the church at large by letter (Acts 15:22-32). The recipients of the letter were "encouraged and strengthened" (Acts 15:32) because of the release and burden from the heavy weight of the Mosaic Law (Acts 15:10). The new era that came by the death of Christ established a new way of living for the Gentiles. The Church, composed of both the believing Gentiles and believing Jews, the Israel of God (Gal. 6:16) being the Jewish sect of the church body, has a new law and way of life. No longer are the Gentiles bound to live by the Mosaic Law as they were in the Old Covenant age. This decision from the Jerusalem Conference is further confirmed by Paul's explanation of this in Ephesians 2:14-15.

The Law, referring to the Mosaic Law, formerly separated the unity between the Gentiles and the Jews in the plan of redemption. Paul described the Mosaic Law as the "dividing wall" (2:14). Under the Old Covenant Law a Gentile had to come into Judaism to live under the rule of God.[48] Yet even then the Gentile could not worship with the Jews fully.[49] Christ ended this disunity and united the Jew and Gentile into one new organism through his death and abolishment of the commandments (2:15). This unified the Jew and Gentile "establishing peace"(2:15). Now Jewish Christians can worship with the Gentile Christian without any hindrance of the Mosaic Law.

If someone asserts that the Mosaic Law still has authority over the church today then they stand in opposition to the Jerusalem Conference's declaration. Furthermore, if the Mosaic Law still abides today then the Gentile and Jew are still not on equal standing in the Lord. If the death of Christ did not cancel the authority of Mosaic Law then the "enmity" between Jews and Gentiles would still exist. As Dr. Fruchtenbaum asserts: "If the Mosaic Law was still in effect, it would still be a wall partition to keep Gentiles away; but the wall of partition was broken down with the death of Christ. Since the wall of partition was the Mosaic Law, that meant the Law of Moses was done away with. Gentiles as Gentiles on the basis of faith can and do enjoy Jewish spiritual blessings by becoming fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus."[50] Paul's teaching to the Ephesians expounded the same idea as set forth in Acts 15. The Mosaic Law does not serve as the authority for the New Testament Church age believer.

Hebrews 7:11-22

The writer of Hebrews, which was probably a Hellenistic Jewish Christian and an apostle or close associate of one of the apostles,[51] argues strongly that "Christianity" is the "final revelation in contrast to Judaism."[52]The theme of Hebrews sets forth the superiority of Christ over and above the previous age whereby the Levitical system ruled the people of God.[53] The final consummation of the progress in God's rule culminates in Christ Jesus. This idea permeates the book of Hebrews. This concept also strongly argues that with the coming of Christ the Old Covenant as administered in the Mosaic Law has been succeeded by the New Covenant Law of Christ.

Hebrews 7:11-22 presents the issue that the older system under the Levitical priesthood has been replaced by the new priesthood that comes from a different order (vs. 11). Verse twelve with vivid clarity tells the saints that the priesthood has changed but also that the law has changed as well. Verse eighteen specifically states that "there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness." The former commandment is a reference to the Mosaic Law.[54] The reference to weakness refers to the inability of the Law of Moses to empower the saint to fulfill the requirement. The Jewish people readily acknowledged the burden the Mosaic Law placed upon believers (see Acts 15:9-10). Then in verse nineteen the writer mentions that a "better hope" has been brought in place of the Law of Moses that has been set aside. The reference to the weakness of the Law reminds the readers that the Old Covenant could not fully atone for sin. Those under the older covenant could not experience the full understanding and accomplishment of redemption.[55] It took Jesus Christ to introduce the full work of salvation through his establishment of another covenant that contrasts the older covenant. In this section the writer argues for strong discontinuity of the "better covenant" instead of the Old Covenant that the Law of Moses governed. This change from the old priesthood system, as prescribed under the Law of Moses, "has important consequences for the law" in that the change also brings with it a new law code from the new priest, Christ.[56] The writer of Hebrews readily recognizes the "substantial discontinuity between the old and the new" administrations in the progress of God's covenant change.[57] With the passing of the older order, Christ has brought in a new order that has a new law code. The Mosaic Law does not function as the authority for the believer today according to the writer of Hebrews. In summary of this passage Dr. Fruchtenbaum presents the ideology of the writer of Hebrews that favors the cancellation of the authority of the Mosaic Law.

With the Messiah there is a new priesthood according to the Order of Melchizedek, not according to the Order of Aaron. The Law of Moses provided the basis for the Levitical priesthood and there was an inseparable connection between the Law of Moses and the Levitical priesthood. Thus, a new priesthood required a new law under which it could operate, according to Hebrews 7:11-18. The point made in Hebrews 7:11-12 is that under the law, only one type of priesthood was permitted and that was the Levitical priesthood. The Levitical priesthood could not bring perfection; only the Messiah's blood could do that. The Mosaic Law was the basis for the Levitical priesthood. For the Levitical priesthood to be done away with and to be replaced by a new priesthood, the priesthood of Melchizedek, required a change of the law. As long as the Law of Moses was in effect no other priesthood was valid except the Aaronic or Levitical priesthood (Heb 7:13-17). Was there a change in the law? Hebrews 7:18 states that the Mosaic Law was "disannulled." Because it is no longer in effect, there is not a new priesthood after the Order of Melchizedek. If the Mosaic Law was still in effect, Jesus could not function as priest. Because the Mosaic Law is no longer in effect, Jesus can be a priest after the Order of Melchizedek. Consequently, the Law of Moses has been "disannulled" in favor of a new law which is the basis for the priesthood according to the Order of Melchizedek.[58]

 

Summary: The Mosaic Law Code Has Ended

The New Testament saint does not live under the authority of the Mosaic Law. The requirements for the Law of Moses have been fulfilled in the life of Christ. Jesus met the requirements and by his death and resurrection he has instituted a new law code that he administers through the Holy Spirit in connection to the laws as prescribed in the New Covenant writings. The Old Testament Mosaic Law functioned as a tutor until Christ came. This tutor pointed to the righteous standards of God as it also revealed the sin of humanity. Such a revelation had a purpose of driving man to see the need of grace. But since Christ has now fulfilled the demands of the law, the Mosaic Law has no more authority over the believer. The code has been "terminated with regard to the regulatory aspect. As with Paul, the church-age believer may rejoice that 'now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law' (Gal. 3:25)."[59]

This change of law does indeed alter the life of the believer in this new age. Not counting the ceremonial and civil differences from the Mosaic Code to the Law of Christ, there remains two other points that practically the Covenant/Continuity perspective does to damage the freedom of the Christian. If the shift from the Mosaic Code to the Law of Christ is not fully accepted, as in the Dispensational/Discontinuity perspective, the believer can be falsely required to follow demands of Scripture that Christ does not intend to govern the saint. This application of the Mosaic Law to a New Covenant believer, who because of the death of Christ and the internal working of the Spirit does not live under the Mosaic Law's authority, creates havoc and retards the growth of the Christian to live under the rule of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Instead of living in the Spirit, which is a central theme in the writings of the Paul for the sanctification of the believer, the Covenant/Continuity scheme of the Mosaic Law places the heavy burden back onto the people of God that the apostles and elders of the Jerusalem Conference alleviated in Acts 15. In turn, this theological perspective damages the grace of Christ and the walk of the believer. This distinction between the Mosaic Law and the Law of Christ is not simply some theoretical debate that lacks relevance to the saint today. Two areas in particular whereby this is often does damage in the practical life of the believer are in the areas of the tithe regulations and worship regulations on the Sabbath. The Covenant scheme of theology hinders the Christian and places him or her under a bondage that Christ does not condone!

The Tithe Regulation: Is the Christian Obligated to Give Ten Percent?

It is commonplace teaching to hear in many churches that the believer must give ten percent of his or her income to the church. Some even argue that this ten percent must be given from income at the gross level instead of the net income level. This error exists due to a faulty understanding of the doctrine of the Law of Christ from the Law of Moses. Those who attempt to place the church age saint under this rule violate the testimony of the Spirit and the testimony of the Law of Christ. Furthermore, the demands that a saint must give any predetermined percentage, such as with ten percent or other, because of the Old Covenant Law fails to understand exactly what the Old Covenant tithe meant. So not only are such teachers in contradiction to the new Covenant Law of Christ, but these teachers are in ignorance of the true demands of the Old Testament Mosaic Law.

An example of this error may be seen in the teachings and writings of the late Dr. Jack Hyles. As a notable representative of the "Fundamental Baptist Movement" his view is often a similar conviction held by many all across the world in Baptist and Conservative circles. However, the view is not inherently connected to just Baptists. Dr. John MacArthur has noted that "many conservative, evangelical, and fundamentalist churches-denominational and nondenominational-have promoted tithing as the basic standard for what their members should place in the offering plate."[60] The late Dr. Hyles pastored one of the largest churches in the Unites States and possibly among the world. He took this view. In his book the Church he stated:

Every Sunday God's people are supposed to take the first tenth of their income to the house of God. The house of God is the church. When God said, ye have robbed me in tithes and offerings, what did he mean? One tenth of our income is already God's. if we do not put it in the church, we are robbing God . . . . God will not allow us to live on more than ninety per cent of our income. A tenth of it belongs to God. If you make a million dollars a month, a hundred thousand dollars is supposed to go the church. You have no right to divide and designate it as you choose. You are to give it to the regular offering of the church. There is nothing wrong with giving designated gifts, if they are over and above the tithes. There is no place in the Bible where any Christian designated the tithe.[61]

Dr. Hyles additionally advocated this view by asserting that Christ taught this in Matthew 23:23. He said, "That is the only place Jesus ever spoke about tithing, but Jesus did not have to say something twice to make it true. Jesus said we ought to tithe."[62] With all of the practical insights and wisdom that Dr. Hyles might have in this book, this is one area where his ideology departs from New Testament Christianity. This is not to discredit the truths he may offer in other places, or the truths that others may have when they too commit the same error. But nonetheless, this application of the "tithe" law on the New Testament Christian violates the teachings of the New Covenant. The statement uttered by Christ in this context was while he still lived and functioned under the Old Mosaic Law Code. Paul said this in Galatians 4:4. Christ was "born under the Law." Therefore, at this point Christ spoke on the tithe as it was still at that point binding on believer of that dispensation. The dispensational change from the Mosaic Law to the Law of Christ had yet to occur. As Romans 7 teaches, the believer was not released from the Law until the death of Christ (7:4-6). So until Christ died people were still bound to follow the Mosaic Law, which included the tithe.

The Old Testament Tithe Equaled At Least 25% of Income

The Law of Christ differs from the Mosaic Law in the area of giving financially. The tithe in the Old Testament was a tax. This tax was the tithe the people of the theocracy were required to give to the government. This taxation occurred in several forms throughout the Israelite community. First, in Leviticus 27:30 and Numbers 18:25-30 the Jewish people are required to give to support the Levites who oversaw the nation and temple. This was a ten percent "taxation used to supply the needs of the Levites, because they had no livelihoods . . . . Essentially the Israelites gave a tithe every year to support those who ran their government."[63]Second, Deuteronomy 12:10-11 and 12:17-18 refers to the second annual tithe for the Israelite community. "God commanded the Israelities to bring all of their offerings, sacrifices, and contributions to Jerusalem . . . . He was ordaining support for all the national religious festivals-the ceremonial feasts and celebrations such as Passover. [This] second tithe was for the sake of the Jews' national religious worship, and it also promoted national unity and fellowship."[64] Third, Deuteronomy 14:28-29 refers to another tithe. This taxation was a welfare tithe. It was used to help the poor, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widows.[65] These taxations equaled about "23 percent" for the "people under the Mosaic Law."[66] However, there were still more taxes required than these three main categories.

Other tithes were required in addition to the base taxation. The nation had a tax that was similar to a profit sharing plan. Leviticus 19:9-10 required that the harvesters leave food at the corners of the field for those in need. This requirement "in effect constituted a profit-sharing plan to meet some of the needs of the poor."[67] Additionally there was land taxation where the community members had to allow the land to rest for an entire year (Exodus 23:10-11). "Every seventh year the people had to forfeit an entire year's earnings so the soil could rejuvenate itself."[68] Then Scripture points to a temple tax in several places. These tithes were those where people brought items and consecrated those items for the service of the temple (2 Chron. 31:6). Dr. MacArthur summarizes the totality of these tithes in regard to percentage requirements:

So the Jews were required to provide a Levites' tithe, a festivals tithe, a poor (welfare) tithe, a profit-sharing tax, the every-seventh-year land Sabbath, and the temple tax. All of that calculates out to more than 25 percent in annual income tax to the theocratic government of Israel. It was far more than the simple 10 percent many believers today mistakenly cite to bolster their argument for required tithing today.[69]

These tithes, or taxations, obligated the people to render the items of value unto the nation. Malachi took issue with the people of Israel for their refusal to comply with God's taxation code. The prophet denounced those within the Israelite community who lived under the Mosaic Law for withholding their money from the theocratic government. The prophet chastens the people for trying to defraud God by either not paying it at all, or by not paying the theocracy fully, as they should have done.[70]

Summary

The Mosaic Law required the people of Israel to pay several taxes. These taxes were required to support the nation and to support those in need. The tithe of the Old Testament did not equal a simple ten percent. Those who attempt to teach that the people of God today are required to follow the Old Testament law on the tithe would have to require more than the ten percent rule that is often placed upon believers. However, in light of the New Testament the believer does not live under a theocracy. The Christian is no longer under the Mosaic Law but under the new law, the Law of Christ. Therefore, as Acts 15 discusses, the Christian teachers in the church should not place a heavy burden back on the people with the Mosaic Law. The church is a new body that is free from the old Mosaic Law Code. This freedom from the Law of Moses means the Christian is under the law of Christ in regard to giving instead of under the law of Moses.

Biblical Giving Under the Law of Christ

Two places in the New Testament are critical to understand when seeking to understand the Law of Christ in giving financially. Paul gave his first admonition and principle for giving in 1 Corinthians 16:1-4. The second text where Paul discussed this is in 2 Corinthians 8:1-8. These two passages reveal the principles that a New Covenant saints operates under in regard to contributing financially unto the Lord under the Law of Christ.

1 Corinthians 16:1-4

Several key points can be gathered from this text that reveal that the Christian is obligated to give financially through the church yet without doing so under the Law of Moses. In essence the idea behind Paul's words is that each Christian should give as he has been blessed.[71] The Christian should determine in his her heart what God so desires for an offering, and this offering should be "put aside" (vs. 2, NASB) or saved for the time of giving for the work of the Lord, which in this case was for the poor saints of Jerusalem. Of particular note, nothing in this passage indicates that Paul taught the saints should give a certain percentage. As Dr. Leon Morris notes, "Paul does not indicate a definite amount or definite proportion of one's income that is to be contributed; he leaves it to the conscience of each."[72] The text does not imply or "hint of a tithe"[73] as prescribed by the Mosaic Law. Dr. MacArthur notes that this text points out that each Christian should give, that his or her giving should be done weekly or monthly, and that a Christian's giving should be done through the church.[74]

2 Corinthians 8:1-8

This text reveals even further that under the law of Christ the saint should give not some standard ten percent, as often articulated, but he or she should give according to the leadership of the Spirit. In verse two Paul stated that the people gave from an "abundance of joy" and that this act of giving was done in "liberality." In other words, the Corinth saints gave to the need generously, and this giving was done by their "own accord" (vs. 3). The text emphasizes the grace of God working in the lives of the believer moves him or her to give to the cause and work of Christ. Grace moves a person to give to his or her church for the needs of the saints. The Mosaic Law is not the New Covenant Law of Christ in this regard. The New Covenant Law is the rule of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the person that motivates him or her to give generously with a joy, love, and eagerness to assist in the work of Christ. Since the "grace of God had been given to them" the people's giving overflowed "in generosity."[75]

2 Corinthians 9:6-8

This text establishes the divine principle that the Christian has under the law of Christ. Each Christian should give as the Spirit places upon his or her heart knowing that the results of generous giving will be great reward and blessing whereas stingy giving results in lack of abundance. Even Dr. John Calvin, who is normally exalted among those of the Covenant theology tradition, seemingly realized the necessity of people giving in accordance to their own desires, not from a mandated law, but rather from a heart that wanted to give as the Spirit had blessed them. Calvin stated, "He [Paul] had no wish to exhort any thing from them against their will. Hence he exhorts them to give willingly, whatever they might be prepared to give. He places purpose of heart in contrast with regret and constraint."[76] The saint should contemplate not the law of what percent to give but the blessing that he or she will receive for giving unto the Lord's work. Christians who give generously will receive "spiritual recompense of eternal life as well as to earthly blessings, which God confers upon the beneficent. For God not only requites [repays, returns in equivalence] not only in heaven, but also in this world, the beneficence of believers."[77] The motive of the Christian is to give as the Spirit leads the heart with an understanding that giving much will at some point reap large rewards from the Lord. This principle differs from the idea and false regulation of applying some Old Covenant regulation of a ten percent tithe upon the New Testament saint.

Summary

The Mosaic Law has been rendered inoperative as an authority over the life of the New Testament Christian. The saint of the new age lives under a new law code, the law of Christ. One of the practical differences this makes is the distinction between the tithe law of the Old Testament and the new rule of Christ that is Spirit led. In the Old Testament the saint had to give approximately 25 percent in the form of a tax to the Israelite theocracy. This was a set law that all the believers had to follow. If a saint did not give this amount to God as prescribed by the Law of Moses then the saint was guilty of robbing God.

However, the New Testament saint lives under a different law code. The New Testament saint lives under the Law of Christ. In this age the government in which one lives under may require taxes. Those taxes are somewhat similar to the Old Testament tithe. But inside the spiritual family of God the saint is required to give the amount the Spirit places upon his or her heart. The more he or she gives with a joyful heart, the more in return the person will receive from the Lord. This principle governs the Christian instead of some mandated amount that the leadership or church places upon the conscience.

In all practical purposes, it is possible that the leadership is guilty of robbing God by placing man made traditions and standards upon the people. When a person gives according to the ten percent rule, or any other rule for that matter other than the rule of the Spirit, what if they give less than what the Spirit desired or nudged them to give? Has not then the leadership led the people into stealing from God? And what if the leadership mandates giving a certain percent and the people obey but grudgingly? Has not the leadership then stole from God the pleasure of his people giving in cheerful generosity? Leadership has no right to require more or less than whatever the Spirit applies to the heart of the believer. Certainly, this teaching will not find a warm reception from those ministries that are enamored with materialistic agendas. So much of the ten percent rule standards of today are seemingly driven by the ungodly motivations of pastors and leaders who must fund elaborate building programs and materialistic endeavors that do not constitute New Testament biblical Christianity. This trend is simply another example of how "Theology is becoming less God-centered and more man-centered."[78] This drive to motivate others to give money based upon some arbitrary decision by a teacher to impose the Mosaic Law or tradition on a believer, instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to guide the believer of the New Covenant age, runs contrary to sound practice of theology.

Sabbath Worship for the Christian: Is Sunday the Christian Sabbath?

It is common to here people taught that Sunday is the new Sabbath. For some this tradition is as normal as eating and breathing. Many people assume without biblical precedent that the commandment of God in the Old Testament to worship him on the Sabbath and to keep the day holy applies to Sunday now in the New Testament age. The Sabbath, which was historically sundown on Friday till sundown Saturday,[79] has supposedly been changed to Sunday under the Christian Church age. However, a study of the biblical text reveals that two points of interest. First, the Sabbath is not Sunday. Sunday is simply the first day of the week. No one-day has any more inherent holiness over the other. Second, because the Mosaic Law was rendered inoperative as the authority over the believer's life, the Christian is not bound to worship on the Sabbath or Sunday. Each Christian church may determine its own time to meet and worship God.

This difference of theology has practical ramifications for the saints and sinners alike today. A Covenant theology error leads to the attempt to enforce the Sabbath regulations on Christians and sinners alike. For example, the great Princeton scholar and renowned theologian Dr. Charles Hodge (1797-1878) advocated imposing federal legislation that would make it illegal for people to break the Sabbath regulations on Sunday.[80] A more contemporary attempt of this error in theology can be seen in the Christian Exodus Movement. This movement seeks to transplant all of its members to one state, SC, and legislate Christian laws in the land. This theologian is in agreement with most of the theological views and practical aspirations as adopted by the movement, however, the probability of the members seeking to at some point down the road making Sunday the complete day of rest is very likely.[81] Such a view, if argued as a biblical precedent, does not align with the truth of Scripture. If people believe that Sunday is more holy than any other day then this is certainly within the bounds of Scripture and one's conscience (Rom. 14:5). Of course, each person should be free to consider another day or every other day as just as holy as Sunday, which is the first day of the week (Rom. 14:5). The ideas of legislating laws to make Sunday carry the principles of rest and mandatory cessation from work, which arise from the Old Covenant Law of the Sabbath, are not biblical expressions of New Testament Christianity.

Sunday is the First Day of the Week Not the Sabbath

The Bible does not teach that the Sabbath regulation has been adjusted to Sunday. The Mosaic Law commanded that people cease from all activity on the Sabbath. The New Testament does not order the saint to follow this commandment. It is one of the Ten Commandments that Jesus Christ did not institute and establish as mandatory in the New Testament age. The law of Christ does not contain a mandate concerning the Sabbath. Sunday is consistently called the first day of the week in the New Testament and not the Sabbath. If the Sabbath were to have changed, you would think at least one writer of the New Testament would have mentioned such a change. But this change is not articulated in Scripture. Christians certainly began to worship on Sunday, the first day of the week, but worship is not the same as a day of rest, which the Old Testament Sabbath mandated.[82] Furthermore, Sunday is always called the first day of the week in the New Testament (see Acts 20:7-8,11). Dr. Fruchtenbuam states:

It should be pointed out that Sunday is never called the Sabbath in the New Testament, but always the first day of the week. Nor is it ever called "the Lord's Day." Although the early church fathers certainly did use that term for Sunday, it was not used in the New Testament. The one place where the term appears is Revelation 1:10, and there is no reason to assume that this day was Sunday. There is good reason to believe it was not. In this passage, the term "Lord" in the Greek text is not a noun but an adjective. It would be better translated as a lordy day. It does not refer to a specific day of the week such as the Sabbath, Saturday, or Sunday. Rather, it was a day of the week in which John was enraptured by prophetic and divine ecstasy, and received divine revelation. It was a day in which he fell under the control of the Holy Spirit and was given prophetic inspiration. For him is was, indeed, a "lordy day."[83]

Additionally, Scripture does not divide time in the ways that many people do today. Many people believe that the Sabbath is Sunday, and that the Sabbath rule applies at midnight on Sunday morning. These people believe that the Sabbath begins at 12am Sunday morning. One person this writer knows actually felt guilt when he worked on his car past 12am Sunday. This person has been fed erroneous ideas concerning the Sabbath and the first day of the week, Sunday. The first day of the week actually begins after the Sabbath ends at sundown on Saturday. If these people want consistency with Scripture then the first day of the week begins much earlier than 12am Sunday morning. "The simple exegesis of Acts 20:7 is that the church at Troas met on the first day of the week, Saturday night after sundown, and Paul was planning to leave the city the next morning, or Sunday morning."[84] This text reveals the truth that the first day of the week is not Sunday at 12am. The context of the passage also reveals that Paul did not believe one had to rest and cease from all work and activity on the first day of the week.

The Sabbath in the New Testament Does Not Carry the Old Testament Regulations

Without repeating the argument above concerning the Mosaic Law being rendered inoperative, it will suffice to iterate in this section the point that the Sabbath is still Friday at sundown till Saturday at sundown. Though the Seventh Day Adventist denomination errs in certain key areas of doctrine, they have for the most part rightly stated that Saturday is still the Sabbath in light of the New Testament. Whatever evangelical Protestantism may justly have against this denomination in other theological doctrines, the Adventist faith has correctly understood the difference between the New Testament Sabbath and the first day of the week.[85]

However, the praise can go no further due to the fact that this group binds all Christians to the idea that worship of God should be done on the Sabbath. This group goes so far as to even state that the reason people do not worship on the Sabbath today is because of the "apostasy of the church."[86] However, the law of Christ grants freedom from the Mosaic Law (Acts 15) and plainly tells the believer that it is a conscience issue concerning what is regarded as a holy day (Rom 14:5). The Adventist group places a heavy yoke on the people of God by binding the New Testament believer to the Old Testament Mosaic Law, something the Jerusalem Conference mandated should not be done.

It is interesting to note that in the doctrinal manual for the Seventh Day Adventist group, the authors do not find one text in the epistles that require any cessation of activity. The authors cite many Old Testament references and some references in the gospels, when the Mosaic Law code was still in force because the husband, Christ, had yet to die (see Romans 7:1-6), but never do they cite any command or principle from the apostolic doctrine sections of Scripture. The Christian church, however, should follow the apostolic doctrines of Christianity (Acts 2:41) as this is where we find the law of Christ. Christ trained his disciples to establish the new people of God, the Church. The new people of God, the church, have a new law to follow that differs in some areas from the Mosaic Law.

Scripture precisely says people are free not to worship on the Sabbath. Colossians 2:16-17 states with clarity that no person should judge another in regards to the day of the Sabbath. "Like other aspects of the law, the Sabbath too is merely a shadow of things to come . . . . In Hebrews 10:1, the law, especially the sacrificial system, was also a shadow which is no longer obligatory."[87] Romans 14:4-6 also proves that the Christian is no longer bound to the Sabbath keeping regulation of the Old Testament law system. "According to verse five, one man is free to esteem a day as being more important than another, be it Saturday or Sunday, while another can view all days equally alike. Both options are valid options. Believers who do not keep the Sabbath should not judge those who do so as legalists, unless those who do so begin to make mandatory for all other believers. . . . This passage is a very strong one against mandatory Sabbath-keeping for either Jews or Gentiles."[88] 

Summary

Christians are free to worship Christ without the yoke and burden of the Mosaic Law. This specifically means that the rules of the Mosaic Law concerning the Sabbath have been fulfilled in Christ and are no longer binding on the Christian of this era. The first day of the week is Sunday, which begins biblically at sundown on Saturday. The Sabbath is still Friday at sundown till Saturday at sundown. However, the Christian may choose to worship, celebrate, and attend church on whatever day he or the congregation determines.

Furthermore, nothing in the New Testament restricts a Christian from normal work and service on Sunday or Saturday. Christians should not work to impose Sabbath regulations, such as with cessation from all work, employment, and amusements upon the society. Even the Southern Baptist Convention has dropped this error from their own Confession of Faith that for many years included erroneous Sabbath rules for Sunday.[89] The New Testament does not call for any person to cease from all activity on Sunday or on the Sabbath. Confusing the Sabbath with the first day of the week, Sunday, causes spiritual damage in the lives of the Christian.

Summary: The Dispensational Change in the Law of God Makes a Practical Difference

A person's sanctification and growth in grace is damaged when teachers of the word place the saint of this era back under the Mosaic Law. Christ fulfilled the law and has now instituted the new law code for his new people. Failure to recognize the distinctions between the Mosaic Law and the Law of Christ hinders and harms the Christian. The yoke and burden of the Mosaic Law has been released by the New Covenant age. Teachers of the word violate the freedom of Christians in Christ by arbitrarily picking which laws from the Old Covenant Law of Moses to apply to the Christian. Furthermore, since the Mosaic Law has been fulfilled in Christ, to place the believer back under the Law of Moses leaves him with a lower standard. The Law of Moses is not the highest ethic of Scripture. The Law of Christ is the highest ethic of Scripture. The Mosaic Law was primarily external whereas the Law of Christ is primarily internal. The Law of Moses demanded that one love another as themselves. The Law of Christ demands that the saint love one another as Christ loved us, namely by sacrificial means. Christians have been given a new law code to follow as well as the empowerment of grace in the Spirit to fulfill the law code. No teacher should seek to bind the Mosaic Law back upon the new Covenant age saint. This change particularly shows up in the issue of the tithe and the Sabbath. The Christian is not obligated to pay the 25 percent tithe to the church as was required in the Old Testament theocracy system. The Christian should give cheerfully from a heart motivated by love knowing that in doing so God will reward him or her richly. Also the Christian should not be concerned with the issue of the Sabbath laws of the Old Testament. Though times of rest are wise and healthy for the body physiologically,[90] this principle of the Sabbath for times of rest do not require the strict mandate that the person cease from all work or activity on a certain day of the week. The rest principle of the Sabbath is wise to grasp, but the application of the law of the Sabbath is unhealthy spiritually for the Christian.


 



[1] Alan Cairns, "Covenant Theology," in a Dictionary of Theological Terms: A Ready Reference of Over 800 Theological and Doctrinal Terms (Greenville SC: Ambassador Emerald International, 2002), 113.

 

[2] G.W. Grogan, "Dispensationalism," in The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, General ed. J.D. Douglas (Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1978), 303.

 

[3] John S. Feinberg, Continuity and Discontinuity: Perspectives on the Relationships between the Old and New Testaments, ed. John S. Fienberg (Wheaton IL: Crossway Books, 1988), xii.

 

[4] Ibid, 85.

 

[5] Charles. C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism (Chicago IL: Moody Press, 1995), 9-10.

 

[6] John MacArthur, The Gospel According to the Apostles: The Role of Works in the Life of Faith (Nashville TN:Word Publishing, 2000), 219.

 

[7] Charles R. Swindoll, Growing Deep in the Christian Life: Returning to Our Roots Portland OR: Multnomah Press, 1986), 12.

 

[8] Kenneth O. Gangel, "Biblical Integration: The Process of Thinking Like a Christian," in The Christian Educator's Handbook on Teaching: A Comprehensive Resource on the Distinctiveness of True Christian Teaching, Edited by Kenneth O. Gangel and Howard G. Hendricks, (Grand Rapids MI: Baker Books, 1988), 83.

 

[9] Howard G. Hendricks, "Following the Master Teacher," in The Christian Educator's Handbook on Teaching: A Comprehensive Resource on the Distinctiveness of True Christian Teaching, Edited by Kenneth O. Gangel and Howard G. Hendricks, (Grand Rapids MI: Baker Books, 1988), 16.

 

[10] William James, "Pragmatism," in A Treasury of Philosophy, Edited by Dagobert D. Runes, vol. 1 (New York NY: Grolier Inc., 1955), 605. I do not embrace the pragmatic philosophy in its essence since for James and all true pragmatists they believe that "truth happens to an idea. It becomes true, is made true by events. Its verity is in fact an event, a process: the process namely of its verifying itself, its veri-fication. Its validity is the process of its validation" (p.605). I affirm the Christian view that truth stands as an objective reality. Whether I know something or don't know of something does not alter the truth of something. Truth is not defined by humanity but by God.However, I do believe that we do not know the truth fully until we indeed practice the truth. Truth in the head that does not reach the heart in action is cold, stale, dead orthodoxy. The NT opposes this type of "head knowledge" (See the NT writer James 2:19).

 

[11] James Orr, The Progress of Dogma (Grand Rapids: MI: Eerdmans, n.d.), 303.

 

[12] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology (Tustin CA: Ariel Ministries, 1989), 643.

 

[13] Renald E. Showers, There Really is a Difference: A Comparison of Covenant and Dispensational Theology (Bellmawr NJ: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry Inc., 1990), 187.

 

[14] Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith (Nashville TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998), 770.

 

[15] John S. Feinberg, "Systems of Discontinuity," in Continuity and Discontinuity: Perspectives on the Relationships Between the Old and New Testaments, ed. John S. Feinberg (Wheaton IL: Crossway Books, 1988), 67.

 

[16] Walter C. Kasier Jr., The Christian and the "Old" Testament (Pasadena CA: William Carey Library, 1998), 217.

 

[17] Walter C. Kaiser, "The Law as God's Guidance for the Promotion of Holiness," in Five Views on Law and Gospel ed. Stanley N. Gundry and Wayne G. Strickland (Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan, 1996), 189.

 

[18] R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith (Wheaton IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1992), 257.

 

[19] Ibid, 258.

 

[20] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Dispensationalism (Dallas TX: Dallas Seminary Press, 1936), 9.

 

[21] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1939), 298.

 

[22] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology (Tustin CA: Ariel Press, 1989), 660.

 

[23] Ibid, 648-649.

 

[24] John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1-7 (Chicago IL: Moody Press, 1985), 255-256.

 

[25]Douglas J. Moo, Five Views on Law and Gospel, ed. Stanley N. Gundry and Wayne G. Strickland (Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan, 1996), 376.

 

[26] Ibid.

 

[27] W.A. Criswell, Great Doctrines of the Bible, Vol. 3: Ecclesiology (Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan, 1983), 24.

 

[28] Floyd H. Barackman, Practical Christian Theology: Examining the Great Doctrines of the Faith (Grand Rapids MI: Kregel Publications, 1998), 414.

 

[29] Ibid.

 

[30] Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago IL: Moody Press, 1989), 111.

 

[31] Millard J.Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids MI: Baker Books, 1985), 1048.

 

[32] R.L. Thomas, Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old (Grand Rapids MI: Kregel Publications, 2002), 253.

 

[33] Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology (Tustin CA: Ariel Press, 1989), 643.

[34] Wayne G. Strickland, Five Views on Law and Gospel, ed. Stanley N. Gundry and Wayne G. Strickland (Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan, 1996), 266.

 

[35] Marvin R. Vincent, Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament, Vol. 3, The Epistles of Paul (Peabody MA: Hendrickson Publishers, n.d.), 112.

 

[36] Ibid.

 

[37] Joseph Henry Thayer, Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan, 1963), 619-620.

 

[38] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament (Chattanooga TN: AMG Publishers, 1992), 1376.

 

[39] W.F. Arndt and F.W. Gingrich, A Greek -English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago IL: University of Chicago Press, 1957), 818.

 

[40] Douglas J. Moo, Five Views on Law and Gospel, ed. Stanley N. Gundry and Wayne G. Strickland (Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan, 1996), 359.

 

[41] Colin Kruse, 2 Corinthians: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries ed. Canon Leon Morris (Leicester England and Grand Rapids MI: Inter-Varsity Press and William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987), 94-95.

 

[42] Ibid, 94.

 

[43] David K. Lowery, "2 Corinthians," in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty eds. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (USA, Canada, England: Victor Books, 1983), 561.

 

[44] Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology (Tustin CA: Ariel Press, 1989), 646-647. Practically speaking if the Covenant theologian were consistent he or she would have to worship on the Sabbath, which is still between Friday at sundown till Saturday at sundown. However, many Covenant theologians exercise "exegetical gymnastics" by trying to make Sunday into the Christian Sabbath, which Scripture never does. Scripture always call Sunday the first day of the week. By doing so, they are very inconsistent. Though certainly wrong in their doctrine that the Old Covenant Law of Moses applies to the believer today, at least the Seventh Day Adventist Church is consistent by their attempt to worship on the Sabbath as the Mosaic Law prescribed. See Seventh-day Adventists Believe: A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines produced by the Ministerial Association of the General Conference of Seventh Day Adventists, (Hagerstown MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1988), 258-259.

 

[45] Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians: Modern English Edition (Grand Rapids MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1988), 207-208.

 

[46] Ibid, 227.

 

[47] I recognize that the Gentiles of faith before God elected Israel also constitute a people in the family of God. All the redeemed of all the ages are within the family of God but the two most focal groups are Israel and the Church.

 

[48] John MacArthur, Ephesians: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Series (Chicago IL: Moody Press, 1986), 77.

 

[49] Ibid, 78.

 

[50] Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology (Tustin CA: Ariel Press, 1989), 646.

 

[51] Mark Bailey and Tom Constable, Nelson's New Testament Survey: Discover the Background, Theology, and Meaning of Every Book in the New Testament eds. Charles R. Swindoll and Roy B. Zuck (Nashville TN: Thomas nelson Publishing, 1999), 503.

 

[52] Ibid, 505.

 

[53] Ibid.

 

[54] Donald A Hagner, The New International Biblical Commentary Vol. 14, Hebrews (Peabody MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1990), 108-109.

 

[55] Ibid, 109.

 

[56] Ibid, 104.

 

[57] Ibid.

 

[58] Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology (Tustin CA: Ariel Press, 1989), 645.

 

[59] Wayne G. Strickland, Five Views on Law and Gospel, ed. Stanley N. Gundry and Wayne G. Strickland (Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan, 1996), 279.

 

[60] John F. MacArthur Jr., Whose Money Is It Anyway? A Biblical Guide to Using God's Wealth(Nashville TN: Word Publishing, 2000), 113.

 

[61] Jack Hyles, The Church (Hammond IN: Hyles Anderson Publishers, n.d.), 190-191.

 

[62]Ibid, 189.

 

[63] John F. MacArthur Jr., Whose Money Is It Anyway? A Biblical Guide to Using God's Wealth (Nashville TN: Word Publishing, 2000), 105-106.

 

[64] Ibid, 106-107.

 

[65] Ibid, 107.

 

[66] Ibid.

 

[67] Ibid, 108.

 

[68] Ibid.

 

[69] Ibid.

 

[70] C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament in Ten Volumes, Vol. X, Minor Prophets, Translated by James Martin (Grand Rapids MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977), 463.

 

[71] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 489.

 

[72] Leon Morris, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: 1 Corinthians (Leicester England and Grand Rapids MI: InterVarsity Press and William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1985), 233.

 

[73] Gordon D. Fee, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The First Epistle to the Corinthians eds. Ned B. Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, Gordon D. Fee (Grand Rapids MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987), 814.

 

[74] John F. MacArthur Jr., Whose Money Is It Anyway? A Biblical Guide to Using God's Wealth (Nashville TN: Word Publishing, 2000), 75-77.

 

[75] Paul Barnett, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, eds. Ned. B. Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, Godon D. Fee (Grand Rapids MI and Cambridge U.K: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997), 390.

 

[76] John Calvin, Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. XX, 1 and 2 Corinthians, translated by John Pringle (Grand Rapids MI: Baker Books, 1998), 309.

 

[77] Ibid.

 

[78] Mal Couch, "History over the War of Dispensationalism," In The Conservative Theological Journal, Vol. 6. No. 18, August 2002.

 

[79] David H. Field, "Sabbath," in The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 4, general ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids MI: Baker Books, 1988), 1874.

 

[80] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995), 340-343.

 

[81] Correspondence through email from the President of Christian Exodus Cory Burnell. See their web site, www.ChristianExodus.com

 

[82] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: the Missing Link to Systematic Theology (Tustin CA: Ariel Ministries, 1989), 673.

 

[83] Ibid, 675.

 

[84] Ibid, 676.

 

[85] Seventh-day Adventists Believe: A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines produced by the Ministerial Association of the General Conference of Seventh Day Adventists Believe (Hagerstown MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1988), 258-264.

 

[86] Ibid, 260-261.

 

[87] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: the Missing Link to Systematic Theology (Tustin CA: Ariel Ministries, 1989), 669.

 

[88] Ibid, 670.

 

[89] See Article 8 in the 1963 SBC Faith and Message as compared to the revised SBC Faith and Message in the 2000 version. The newest edition leaves this day to the Christian's conscience to dictate, whereas the earlier version called for people to not work and participate in any worldly amusements or secular employments. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary still have the Abstract of Principles that governs their professorships. This confession in article 17 still holds to the same theological error of applying Sabbath regulations to the New Testament Christian under the term the Lord's Day.

 

[90] Jan W. Kuzma and Cecil Murphy, Live 10 Healthy Years Longer (Nashville TN: Word Publishing, 2000), 187-193.

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