I started thinking the other day about our unique and special new year. It is the start not only of a new day, but a new month and a new year. There is something special about something new; it is fresher, cleaner, brighter and shinier. They are not old, rusted, decayed, bent, broken, dusty, dingy or damaged. Politicians have recognized the deep desire that people have for something new. Continue reading » “Behold I Will Do A New Thing”
Editor’s Note: The following material was written August 18-20 in the form of an email discussion between friends. Joshua Gurtler asked the initial question below. The answers he received, a follow up question, and final responses appear one after another. Each respondent is identified.
It seems to be popular these days to condemn the internet “out of hat.” Such discussions show the benefits of the electronic means of carrying a discussion. While the instantaneous means of communication has its drawbacks (people tend not to consider their words before posting), it is nevertheless a wonderful tool for communication and study. We commend these thoughts to you. The casual nature of the discussion has been retained.
I’m studying w/ an individual who makes the claim that Christ NEVER instituted any of His new law while he was alive. Doing so would have been a violation of His own teaching of Mt. 5:19 causing Christ to make void the law thus sin. It is claimed that Christ only reiterated what the original teaching of the Law was. This individual was also quick to point out that all of Christ’s teaching still applies to us because he was teaching “eternal principles.” For this reason, Christ never taught that one must keep the Sabbath, per se, beacause that is not an eternal principle. Continue reading » Discussion on the New Law
Covenant Theology (1)
A. The term “covenant theology” is a denominational concept that is being revised and promoted as a Scriptural concept.
B. The doctrine is in flux among brethren. Continue reading » Special Sermon Studies: Covenant Theology
QUESTION: “Is the weekly Sabbath still binding on us because of Hebrews 4:9? The ‘rest’ in this verse is ‘Sabbatismos’ in Greek which means ‘weekly Sabbath’ (Saturday). Is this true?”
REPLY: In his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W. E. Vine, speaking of “sabbatismos” says, “(H)ere the sabbath-keeping is the perpetual sabbath rest to be enjoyed uninterruptedly by believers in their fellowship with the Father and the Son, in contrast to the weekly Sabbath under the law” (970). Note, “sabbatismos,” Vine says, is “in contrast to the weekly Sabbath under the law.” Thayer, commenting on Hebrews 4:9, concurs (565).
Too, as a casual search will show, the usual word for the weekly (Saturday) sabbath is sabbata, or sabbaton, not sabbatismos. Further, Hebrews 4:9 refers to “a rest,” not “the Sabbath.” Continue reading » Queries and Explications: Is the Weekly Sabbath Still Binding?
Genesis 12:1-4, “Now the LORD had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.”
God’s promise to Abraham in these verses contain a “fourfold” promise. Because this is not understood, many have stumbled and false doctrine has been the result. Let us study the text and do so with and an open mind and open Bibles. Continue reading » Confusion on the Covenants: God’s Fourfold Covenant with Abraham
Some in churches of Christ are advocating that a covenant made by God with man should not be viewed as law from God. They urge us to believe that a covenant is a relationship of mercy rather than a law to be obeyed. They tell us that the new covenant of Christ is not a last will and testament (Jer. 31:31; Heb. 8:8, 13; Heb. 12:24; 9:15). For instance, they say that a “covenant is not a law, but it has law.” And again, “Covenant is not a set of laws” (Jim Puterbaugh, Classes on “The Covenant,” Tape 1, 2-6-95, held at Issaquah church of Christ, Issaquah, Washington). Continue reading » Confusion on the Covenants: Covenant and Testament
In December, 1988, there was an exchange, in Nashville, between conservative and liberal thinking brethren. Some of the liberal thinkers turned out to be ultra-liberal and advocated what has been called “new hermeneutics.” They said that the canon of the N.T. was not decided until the fourth century and therefore the teaching of the apostles could not have been looked upon as a pattern. One speaker said “precept, example and necessary inference is Greek to me.” Instead of appealing to pattern authority, they said we should study the life of Jesus and do what we feel He would do in the circumstances. After the first speaker, I asked one who was to speak later on the liberal side (though he was much more conservative than that speaker), the source of that doctrine. He said: “Frank, that is rank modernism,” and it is!
Since I wrote a review of the “One Covenant” theory, I have been corresponding with two men who are trying to defend the theory. Some brethren have started traveling this road when they do not know its destination! One of the writers, a chief advocate of the theory, has made the same statement to me that the ultra-liberal speaker made in Nashville. I will quote that later, but first notice the argument that the the priesthood has not changed and Christ gave no new covenant. Continue reading » Confusion on the Covenants: Covenant and New Hermeneutics
“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham, returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning, “king of peace,” without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually”
The sacred history about Melchizedek is very brief (Gen. 14:18-20). He, a Canaanite, was king of Salem (probably, later known as Jerusalem), and the priest of God Most High. After a particular battle in which Abraham was victorious, Melchizedek blessed him. In turn, Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek. What is omitted in this history about Melchizedek, as well as what little is said about him, is important in that he is set forth as a type of Christ. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews introduced the case of Melchizedek in 5:6,10 and in 6:20, developing it further in chapter 7. The argumentation of the author is based on the emphases about Melchizedek. He had no beginning nor end, neither parents nor descendants (that history records)! He appears on the inspired pages of Genesis as a king and a priest of God, without registry that relates his lineage or ancestry, nor of predecessors nor successors in his priesthood. In these particulars, he serves as a type of Christ in his kingship and priesthood, one who abides thus continually. Continue reading » Confusion on the Covenants: Jesus – Priest After the Order of Melchizedek
Some of our religious friends and neighbors, especially the Seventh Day Adventists, contend for the observance of the Sabbath. They make the claim that one who follows the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ must keep the seventh day as a day of rest. We will show from the inspired word of God that Christians are not required to consecrate the Sabbath. Also, we will look at how this subject presents great difficulty to our brethren who hold the “one covenant” position.
The first hint
of man keeping the Sabbath, a day of rest on the seventh day by commandment of God, is found shortly after Israel departed from Egypt.
And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily…And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning…And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none (Ex. 16:5, 22-23, 25-26).
Prior to this time there is a total absence of any command, example, or necessary inference that man was required to observe the seventh day as a day of rest! Continue reading » Confusion on the Covenants: What About the Sabbath?
To all readers of Watchman Magazine I want to extend my apologies for getting this March issue online a few days late. It might be said, “Events, they conspired against me.” Watchman Magazine is a relatively large venture, with three editors, seven regular feature writers, and a host of of “theme” writers, and other authors. However, there is still only one publisher, and that’s me. For those unfamiliar with the World Wide Web, that entails taking the edited materials, and putting them in HTML format, then uploading them to the Watchman site. This is enjoyable work, but with a venture this large it takes quite a bit of time. This month, with a heavy work schedule, a gospel meeting late in the month, computer problems, and a flu “bug”, I just ran out of time. I want you to know that no one is more disappointed regarding this delay than I am, and I am taking steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Continue reading » Editorial: An Apology and Thanks!
In Mt.5:32 Jesus stated His position on divorce and remarriage. “But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.”
His message is clear and authoritative. It is a message of His covenant that needs to be accepted and followed by all. The thrust of this article is to explore the question, “Did Jesus teach Old Covenant Law on marriage in Matthew 5:32?” The reason for examining this passage from this vantage point is the “one covenant” teaching that has been promoted by some brethren. This “one covenant” position leads some to say that God had one universal law on marriage from the beginning. The practice of the patriarchs and teaching of Moses only clarified the original intent of God. Jesus did not teach anything different from Moses or patriarchs but sought to reiterate and reconfirm what was always true. Those who are teaching this “one covenant” doctrine seem to be trying to loosen the marriage, divorce and remarriage law of Jesus by grabbing hold of any deviant behavior concerning marriage practiced by the patriarchs and/or the Jews, whether God’s approval is stated or possibly implied, and applying that to Jesus’ marriage law. Continue reading » Solid Food: Did Jesus Teach Old Covenant Law on Marriage
A reader asks: How does Hebrews 13:20 relate to the discussion about “One Covenant” or “The Eternal Covenant?” Does this passage give credence to the idea that God has only had one covenant?
First, the book of Hebrews abounds in points of contrast. Indeed, contrasts are the fiber and fabric of the letter. If one doubts it, let him take them away and see what he has left!
Second, the thirteenth chapter, true to the nature of the book, is soaked and saturated with sure and certain contrasts. (a.) There are two sources of strength (v. 9). (b.) There are two altars, and, by implication, two tabernacles (v. 10; Cf. 8:2; 9:2). (c.) There are two bodies of sacrifice, the “bodies of those beasts (animals),” and the body of Christ (v. 11; Cf. Col. 1:22). (d.) There are two “end-results” of those sacrificed bodies. The “bodies of those beasts…are burned without the camp,” while the body of Jesus was “brought again from the dead” (vv. 11, 20). (e.) There are two “bloods,” the blood of animals and “his own blood,” the blood of Christ (vv. 11, 12; Cf. Matt. 26:28; Heb. 9:18-23). (f.) There are two high priests, the Old Testament high priest and, by implication, Jesus, our high priest–someone had to bring the offering into the sanctuary; in the Old Testament, it was the high priest; in the New Testament, it is Christ (vv. 11, 12; Cf. 3:1; 5:1-6; 9:25, 10:10-14). (g.) There are two cities. One is earthly Jerusalem; the other is “the heavenly Jerusalem” (v. 14; Cf. 11:16; 12:22). (h.) There are two covenants. One is “everlasting” (in contrast to that which is temporary) having been established “through the blood” of Christ (v. 20; Cf. Matt. 26:28; Heb. 9:18-10:14). Continue reading » Queries and Explications: The Blood of the Everlasting Covenant
Jeremiah predicted the following in Jeremiah 31:31-34: “Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith Jehovah. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more.”
This prophecy figures prominently in the present controversy of whether there is one continuous (Eternal) covenant from Abraham, through Moses, through the New Covenant of Christ or whether the covenants given to Abraham (Gen. 12;2f); to Israel through Moses (Dt. 5:1-3) and to spiritual Israel through Christ (Heb. 8:7-13) are distinct, separate covenants. Those who hold to “one covenant” argue that the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant of Jesus were “renewals” of the Abrahamic Covenant; insisting that the prophecy uttered by Jeremiah actually was fulfilled when the Jews returned from Babylonian exile (circa 536 BC). Hear them:
“Indeed, Jeremiah’s famous new (renewed) covenant of 31:31-34, first prophesied in about 593 BC was realized about 60 years later when God’s people in the houses of Judah and Israel, to whom the covenant oracle was specifically addressed, returned from Babylonian exile”
(Stanley Paher, The Eternal Covenant, p. 78). Continue reading » Confusion on the Covenants: Jeremiah 31 and the “One Covenant” Controversy
“Clarifying the Law of Moses?”
or “The Constitution of Christianity?”
Most people agree that the Sermon on the Mount is one of the most eloquent and profound sermons ever, if not the most eloquent and profound. We can learn numerous lessons concerning that which is good and right. The question has arisen, however, “Is the sermon on the mount a clarification of the Law of Moses or is it the Lord’s preparation for the kingdom which was yet to come?” We deny the former and affirm the latter. Yet, there are those who disagree with us and say that the sermon is just Jesus’ attempt to set the Jews straight on the real meaning of the Law of Moses. Is this true? Can the argument be sustained? Let us investigate. Continue reading » Confusion on the Covenants: The Sermon on the Mount
Much error has been taught in the denominational world due to their failure to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). They see little need in distinguishing between the old and new Covenants. They are as likely to go to the Old Covenant for authority as to the new.
Churches of Christ have faithfully taught that we must rightly divide the old from the new and that we are to follow the new and not the Old Covenant. We have correctly taught that the New Covenant is our guide and authority. We learn from the Old Covenant (Rom. 15:4,) but it is not our guide and authority. We have taught this because the Bible clearly teaches it.
There are several reasons why this is so. Continue reading » Confusion on the Covenants: Is the Old Testament Still Binding?
Back to Basics – Christ and the Law
When brethren are confused about whether Christ came to fulfill the law and prophets or to perpetuate them, it is time to get back to basics! One brother said, “Continuity of law is evident in Matthew 5:17, in that there is nothing about following Jesus that would be obnoxious to Moses.” He further said that Jesus did not “dismantle the law and give a new one,” He only took away the ceremonial aspects of the law. My affirmation is that Jesus fulfilled the promises, the prophecies and the law, and all of it passed away
. We can please God only by following the New Covenant revealed through Christ and ratified by His blood.
The Law and The Prophets“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven”
(Matt. 5:17-19).Most of the material in this article is taken from a book written by James D. Bales in 1973, entitled: “Christ: The Fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets
.” (It is out of print now. All quotations will be from this source.) Continue reading » Confusion on the Covenants: Back to Basics
(Editor’s Note: This article is written by Thomas G. O’Neal)
The weeping Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, said, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, said the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, said the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying `Know the Lord’: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, said the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (31:31-34). Continue reading » Confusion on the Covenants: A New and Better Covenant
People generally think of a covenant as an agreement where two parties contribute to the terms of the covenant on an equal basis; the covenant is then equally binding on both. Though that’s one meaning of the English word covenant, it is not the only one. This is especially true when viewing covenants God has made with mankind. In those covenants, there is no equality between the parties; they are covenants between unequals. We view one party to the covenant, God, who is superior to the other and is the only one who can set the terms of the covenant. The second party, either one man, selected men or mankind in general, has only the choice of abiding by the terms or rejecting them.
Two Types of Covenants
The Hebrew word, berith, is thought to come from the Akkadian biritu, which means “fetter” or “bond.” So, we may derive from that the meaning of something binding. However, the attempt to delve into etymology and derivations may be an interesting exercise but is little more than that and quite unnecessary. Whatever the roots, berith covers a full range of what covenant means in the Old Testament, primarily, an agreement that binds the parties involved. It might refer to two parties who both contribute to the terms of the agreement and then are equally obligated to meet those terms. This is called a parity covenant, one made with bilateral obligations on the part of both parties. Continue reading » Confusion on the Covenants: People of the Covenant