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  1. Stephen Ferguson
    13 January 2013 @ 12:35 pm

    Preston, I respectfully disagree with your analysis several counts.  Despite claims that FB 19 exists primarily to defend the Sabbath, I believe most 'mainstream' creeds of  Christianity, who don't keep the Sabbath, would also disagree with your analysis.  

    Before people make claims of Adventist propaganda, and without getting into a text-war, I actually think the Westminster Confessions of Faith says it best:

    “19.1 God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which he bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience, promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the and endued him with power and ability to keep it.

    19.2 This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and, as such, was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments, and written in two tables: the four first commandments containing towards God; and the other six, our duty to man.

    19.3 Beside this law, commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel, as a church under age, ceremonial laws, several typical ordinances, partly of worship, prefiguring actions, sufferings, and benefits; and partly, holding forth of moral duties. All which ceremonial laws are now abrogated, under the new testament.

    19.4 To them also, as a body politic, he gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people; not obliging any further than the general equity thereof may require.

    19.5 The moral law doth forever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof; and that, not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, Neither doth Christ, in the gospel, any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.” (emphasis added)

    See: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/creeds3.iv.xvii.ii.html
     

  2. Preston Foster
    13 January 2013 @ 2:53 pm

    Stephen,

    I don't think proof texts are a bad thing.  I think our reliance on sources other than the Bible is the root of the problem.  We have rationalized our doctrine to confirm with our religious creeds, rather than conforming our religion to the explicit Word.  Hebrews 12:18-22 outlines the calling of the New Covenant in direct contrast to Mount Sinai (the law) which, under the Old Covenant, could not be approached by sinners.  We, now, are called to Mt. Zion, where grace abounds.

    The authority of this Westminster analysis is lost on me, as the explicit references to the law — and our relationship to it under the New Covenant (as outlined in texts provided in the column) are not addressed.  It seems, at least to me, that we ignore Paul (Galatians 4:21) and embrace Moses (John 5:45) — at our peril.

  3. Elaine Nelson
    13 January 2013 @ 8:17 pm

    The only command God gave Adam and Eve was to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.

    The Decalogue was given only to the Israelites at Sinai:

    "The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, with all those of us alive here today." Deut 5.

    In the preface to the giving of the law in Ex. 20 he addressed them "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt."

    The entire Law was given ONLY to the Jews, never to the surrounding tribes (pagans or Gentiles).

    Ignoring the abundant body of works by Paul to the Gentiles ignores his authority to dispense with the Law given to the Jews.  The New Covenant does not contain written letters as Christ has fulfilled all the law's obligations and has replaced the Law as the guide for the Jewish with love, the summation of the law embraced by the New Covenant.

  4. All4Him
    13 January 2013 @ 10:51 pm

    Genesis 26:5 states the Abraham obeyed my "voice", and keep charges, commandments, statutes and laws

    This was many years before the Deacalogue was written, does God's Law change?… or was it verbal and passed on through generations?

  5. Elaine Nelson
    14 January 2013 @ 2:10 am

    It must have been verbal and only Abraham heard; it has not been recorded in the Bible.  All we can be certain:  the first account of the Law is in Exodus. If Moses wrote the Torah, as is widely believed, he described Abraham only from oral accounts.

  6. Stephen Foster
    14 January 2013 @ 2:24 am

    Regarding covenant theology, particularly relating the ‘Westminster Confession’ (i.e., a Protestant) way of looking at things, I would heartily recommend the overview presented in the Wikipedia entry of ‘Covenant Theology,’ and/or that presented in Religion Wiki; in which three kinds of Theological Covenants: The Covenant of Redemption, The Covenant of Works, and The Covenant of Grace, seem to be identified—replete with many textual references (Sorry Brother Ferguson):.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covenant_theology
    http://religion.wikia.com/wiki/Covenant_theology
     
    The individual covenants that have been identified are the Adamic Covenant, the Noahic Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant.
     
    “These individual covenants are called the biblical covenants because they are explicitly described in the Bible. Under the covenantal overview of the Bible, submission to God's rule and living in accordance with his moral law (expressed concisely in the Ten Commandments) is a response to grace – never something which can earn God's acceptance (legalism). Even in his giving of the Ten Commandments, God introduces his law by reminding the Israelites that he is the one who brought them out of slavery in Egypt (grace).”
     
    This particular entry also notes that (per Galatians 3:6-18) the Abrahamic Covenant is permanent, “everlasting,” and therefore has not been superseded.
     
    Can we (all) agree on the above?

  7. Preston Foster
    14 January 2013 @ 3:29 am

    What is resisted in the article is the notion that the 10 Commandments (Mosaic / Old Covanant) are "binding on all people in every age."

    The 10 Commandments WERE and ARE purposefully legalistic.  They had to be fulfilled perfectly (which no one, but Christ could do) in order to meet God's demands — and to bring us to the end or ourselves, in need of a Savior.  Christ's perfect life to the letter and spirit of that law made him an acceptable sacrifice for our sins, reconciling us to The Father.  It is His (Christ's) righteousness that makes those who are in no longer bound by the law — and free (Galatians 5: 1-3).  Stating that we are still bound to that law (inadvertently) minimizes what Christ did for us on The Cross and implies that our obedience to the law plays a role in our justification.  

    The law has, indeed, changed (Hebrews 12:7).  God has provided to us a better way to live.  It is the inescapable law of love that He writes, not on tablets of stone, but on our hearts.  It is this law that is permanent and "binding on all people in every age" (1 John 3:23, 24;  2 John 5, 6).

  8. Preston Foster
    14 January 2013 @ 3:33 am

    Correction: the Bible reference (re: the change in the law) in the last paragraph above should be Hebrews 7:12.  Sorry for any confusion.

  9. Elaine Nelson
    14 January 2013 @ 7:27 am

    The Bible specifically writes of two covenants:  The Old Covenant was the one made with the Israelites and included the Decalogue along with all the laws given at that time.

    The New Covenant was promised and came when Christ died and fulfilled all the conditions of the Law, ushering in the New Covenant.

  10. All4Him
    14 January 2013 @ 10:53 am

    Yes, the Bible specifcally writes of two covenants.  A covenant is an agreement to be keep between two
    entities.  It can be broken by either party.  God's part was not at fault, Hebrews 8:10 does't state the Law is changed just the location of where it is written.

    Christ death fulfills the conditions of the Law not the Law itself.

  11. Stephen Ferguson
    14 January 2013 @ 11:42 am

    Preston, please forgive my own ignorance and inability to grasp what you are saying, but a couple of questions for you, of issues that are not clear to me from reading your article:

    1. “ . . . are binding upon all people in every age.”

    • What do you mean by the phrase ‘Law of God’ as found in the title to FB#19, which you seem to object to? 
    • Do you agree the Bible makes a distinction and an implicit division between the Moral aspects of the Law, compared with ceremonial and civil-sundry aspects of the Torah?
    • Do you believe the Moral aspects of the Torah are eternal and still have some relevance for Christians today? I was a little confused by this in reading your article.
    • Do you believe there has always been some sort of Moral law?  For example, Enoch and Noah walked with God – even though they had no Torah (Gen 5,6 and Heb 11).  Abraham was said to keep God’s decrees – even though he had no Torah (Gen 25:6).  Adam didn’t obey God, and introduced sin into the world (Rom 5:12) – even though he had no Torah.  What Law then existed before Sinai?
    • Do you believe the ceremonial aspects of the Torah, which were the Israelite sacrificial cult, were only shadows pointing to Christ, and thus no longer obligatory or directly relevant for Christians?
    • Do you believe the civil aspects of the Torah, which were for the governing of the theocratic State of Israel, which now no longer exists (not even in Israel today), and thus no longer obligatory or directly relevant for Christians?
    • Do you believe the 10 Commandments are part of, or a way of describing, the Moral aspects of the Torah?  In other words, do you agree that the 10 Commandments are just one way (perhaps a negative one using negative language of ‘thou shalt not’) of describing the Moral law, where the 2 Greatest Commandments (love God and your neighbor) or the law written in our hearts (per the New Covenant as prophesied in Jer 31:33) are more positive ways of describing the same thing?  I ask because your use of the word ‘or’ between ‘moral law or the 10 Commandments’ in your third sentence seems to suggest you see the two concepts as not the same thing?  However, later in your discussion of the Moral law at Sinai, referencing Gal 4:24, you suggest the opposite – that the Decalogue and Moral law are the same thing.  Sorry I am confused as to what you mean?
    • Do you agree that in the OT God treated the 10 Commandments differently from the rest of the Torah? The Decalogue are Aphoric (general and universal) as a matter of Form Criticism, whilst the rest of the Torah are merely Causatic laws (specific, beginning with ‘if’ and ‘then’).  Moreover, and for example, God wrote with his own hand (Ex 31:18; Deut 5:22) with the tablets going in the ark (Ex 40:20-21); whereas, the rest of the laws were written by Moses (Deut 31:24-26). Do you agree with this?
    • Do you agree Jesus Christ in the NT treated the 10 Commandments differently from the rest of the Torah (quoting Micah in Matt 9:13; Matt 12:7; and Matt 23:23)? 
    • In the alternative, do you believe the 10 Commandments were ‘replaced’ by  something else, and if so, what exactly?  To sum up something is not to replace it – it is actually expounds, it like a laser does to a light. Do you agree that Jesus never said the 2 Great Commandments did away with the Law; merely, Jesus said they were the ‘sum’ of the Law & Prophets (Matt 22:37-40)?  Do you agree Jesus fulfilled (e.g. ceremonial aspects) and expounded (e.g. moral aspects) of the Law? 
    • In that sense, do you think that unlike the Pharisees, who only kept the letter of the Law but not its intent, Jesus expected Christians to be even better ‘law-keepers’, in extoling its weightier matters of mercy and justice? (Matt 23:23)  In fact, would it be fair to say that Jesus didn’t do away with the Moral law (Matt 5:17-19), but expected His disciple to keep it to an even higher standard than so-called religious experts of the day (Matt 5:20).
    • Moreover, are you suggesting the 10 Commandments are merely a dispensation, which was only applicable for a period of time, which is why they are no longer binding for all people at all ages? If so what?  Doesn’t the NT make clear that Law and Gospel are not 2 separate dispensations or time periods but that people in the OT had the Gospel and were saved by Jesus’ blood through righteousness by faith and not works, although it was only promised through symbols (Gen 15:6; Hab 2:4; Gal 3:8; Rom 1:1-2 and Heb 4:2).
    • When you use the word ‘law’ what are you actually referring to, especially in your relevant quotations of Paul?  I ask because it appears Paul himself means different things when he uses the word law (‘nomos’). It seems Paul uses nomos to mean the Pentateuch (Rom 3:21), the entire OT (Rom 3:19), a principle (Rom 7:23), the Decalogue (Rom 7:7) and legalism (Gal 3:2). Isn’t it important to compare ‘oranges to oranges’?  Are you sure all your quotes are referring to the right type of law?
    • Do you think the Moral aspects of the law (and again it isn’t clear whether you agree this can mean to include the 10 Commandments) still has some benefit today in helping to point out our sins (Gal 3:22,24-4:1; Rom 7:7-13,19)?  This appears to be a crucial point, because there is a difference between believing the Moral law (including the 10 Commandments) can save us, which I would strongly deny, compared with saying the Moral law is still beneficial in helping to point out our sins, which I would strongly support.
    • Are you saying the 10 Commandments are somehow irrelevant or somehow done away with?  The Bible doesn’t tell us the Law is irrelevant; it tells us it is holy and its commands are holy and right and good (Rom. 7:7,12,13) and profitable to teach (2 Tim 3:16, keeping in mind the ‘scripture’ here is the OT).  The type of law (‘nomos’) Paul says is good and holy is the Decalogue, made clear in Rom 7:8 when Paul quotes ‘You must not covert’ (Ex 20:17).  How then can it be said that the Law has been done away with and no longer binding upon all people in every age?  Surely, in this sense the FB#19 is correct in saying that salvation is all of grace and not works, but its fruitage is obedience to the Commandments?
    • Do you agree the whole debate it rather pointless because both ‘sides’ ultimately, which it all boils down to it, rely on ‘natural law’ or the ‘Eden principle’? Jesus espoused in His discussion on divorce that Christians should live according to how it was ‘in the beginning’ (Matt 19:4,8). All human beings are ultimately judged by this natural law, even if they have never heard of God, Jesus or the Torah (Rom 2:14-16).
    • What do you ultimately think the writers of the FB#19 mean by the term ‘binding’?  I don’t take it to suggest that the Moral law saves us as part of sanctification, which it can’t, but which I think you might be suggesting the writers are suggesting.  However, the Moral law is ‘binding’ in that it helps to point out sin, even today, and God will work in us to put it in our hearts as part of sanctification.  Are you confusing justification for sanctification?
    • Isn’t there a difference between ‘law-keeping’, which is really legalism (per Paul’s use of nomos in legalism (Gal 3:2)), compared with naturally beginning to reflect God’s Moral standards in our hearts as fruits of the spirit per the New Covenant experience, as part of sanctification?
    • Are you promoting a type of ‘antinomianism’, which is a person who believes that Christians are released by grace from the obligation of observing the moral law’ (Oxford English Dictionary)?  If so, how do you deal with Paul categorical denials that the Law hasn’t been abolished? (Rom 3:31; Gal 3:21).
    • For the above reasons, wouldn’t the Moral law (which can be described in terms of the 10 Commandments, amongst other ways), be ‘binding upon all people in every age’? 
    • If your real concern is legalism, then I agree in a sense that technically and pedantically it isn’t the 10 Commandments per say, which are a negative description of the Moral law, that will transform our lives, but rather a positive description of God’s Moral law as written on our hearts that transforms.  However, that is arguably quite a ‘legalistic’ criticism of FB#19 itself. 

    • Preston Foster
      14 January 2013 @ 10:40 pm

      Stephen Ferguson,
       
      I do not object to the “Law of God” (the use, in this context, is taken, verbatim, from FB 19).  I object to positioning the Law of God as “binding” New Covenant Christians.  Per the Bible, New Covenant Christians are to be led by the Holy Spirit, who writes God’s law of love on their hearts and guides them into good works.  It is not the law that sanctifies us, but Christ (Hebrews 2:11).
       
      Galatians chapter 5 addresses many of your concerns, particularly your concern about antinomianism (where did I endorse sin or hint that sin was desirable?).  The fear of too many is that if you are not led by the law, the only alternative is sin.  It is a false choice.  New Covenant Christians are to be led by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:13-16), which leads us away from indulging our flesh — without the aid or yoke of the law.
       
      I use the terms “moral law” and “10 Commandments” interchangeably.  That is what is meant by the word “or” when referring to them. However, I believe the use moral vs. ceremonial division is a primarily an unnecessary one, when describing what Christ satisfied at the cross.  When Paul speaks of the law, the is usually referring to the law as a whole — and primarily referencing what we (Adventists) refer to as the “moral law.”  
       
      This is not my concoction.  Regarding what Paul is referring to in Colossians, Ephesians, and other writings vis-a-vis "the law," here is an except from the article, "Sabbath: Nailed to the Cross?” by William E. Richardson, (former) Chair of the Religion Department at Andrews University:
       
      "It is primarily the KJV translation of verse 14 ("handwriting of ordinances") that has led some to interpret the phrase as referring to the various Mosaic rituals and ceremonial "ordinances" that largely ceased to have relevance after Christ died on the cross. So if some law was nailed to the cross, it would have to be the ceremonial law, since the moral law was not made "void" by the cross (Rom. 3:31).
       
      However, Paul rarely makes the neat division between the ceremonial law and the moral law that we are often quick to make. In fact, his references to the ceremonial laws are rare. When he does use the word "law" (nomos), he most frequently has in mind the moral law in general and often the Decalogue in particular. Of course, in our passage he doesn't use the word "law" at all, which is why we have to be so careful to reason from the context to understand his meaning.
       
      In a strikingly similar passage in Ephesians 2:14, 15, Paul tells how Christ has brought peace, not just between Jew and Gentile, but between all humans and God, by nullifying the "law of commandments in decrees" (ton nomon ton entolon en dogmasin) (see New Jerusalem). Here the word "law" is linked with the word dogmasin, the same word translated "ordinances" in Colossians. The context of both Colossians and Ephesians indicates that something more than ceremonies was involved.
       
      One thing is very clear: when Paul elsewhere refers to the impact of the cross for the Christian, he does not limit his reasoning to abolishing the ceremonial law. For Paul the most important thing that ended at the cross was the condemnation brought about by our sin. That condemnation arose out of a broken moral law. As he says in Romans 7:7, "if it had not been for the law, I should not have known sin" (RSV). In other words, it is the broken law that stands before us and condemns us, which is all the moral law can do for those who have broken it. But as Paul says in Romans 8:1 "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (RSV). Or, as in verse 3, "God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son . . . condemned sin in the flesh" (RSV).
       
      To put it another way, the moral law could point out sin, but could not forgive it. So God had to intervene, or we would stand forever condemned by that law. At that point, the "principalities and powers" that Paul mentions in Colossians 2:15 would triumph over us. But now, as a result of the cross, that picture has changed, and the powers have been defeated. And that happened when the condemnation of the moral law was figuratively nailed to the cross. The NRSV smoothly translates it: "erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross." Thus He made "peace by the blood of his cross" (Col. 1:20, RSV).
       
      The moral law after the cross
       
      This interpretation does not mean that the moral law itself did not survive the cross. It is one thing to say that the demands of the law have been met in Christ. It is quite another to say that the law has been abolished in Christ. Or to put it differently, the law serves at least two functions; as an objective description of God's character and expectations, it stands forever; as an unbending standard that condemns our failure to keep it and thus drives us to Christ, it has a temporary function. It is this last aspect that Paul has in mind when he uses the "nailed to the cross" figure."
       
       
      In this article, “the law” I am referencing is, in all cases, the 10 commandments, as that is the locus of FB 19.  That law, I contend is not binding on those in Christ.  Christ lived and died to free us from that law and its penalties:
       
      – Colossians 2: 14-16: This verse, seems to me, to point MORE to the moral law, than the ceremonial. "The debt that was against us" is, most easily, the debt of sin — defined by the moral law.
      – Colossians 1:20-23: These verses speak to Christ making peace for us with the Father, "by the blood of the cross," reconciling ALL THINGS in earth and in heaven." It would seem the first thing in need of reconciliation would be our relationship to the law, which requires the shedding of innocent blood.
      – Romans 10:4: Christ, being "the end of the law of righteousness to everyone who believes." The law of righteousness MUST be the moral law. Christ could only be the end of the law by His blood sacrifice. This, I believe is what Matthew 5:17-18 is referencing, in terms of "'till all be fulfilled." Indeed, it was what Christ was referencing when, ON THE CROSS He said, "It is finished," John 19:30.
      – 2 Corinthians 3:6-11: Paul specifies that it is what was written in stone that we have been freed from. Verse 7 explicitly references what was "engraven in stone."  This is a direct reference to the 10 Commandments, themselves.  Verse 11 explicitly says that it was "done away."
      2 Corinthians 3:13-17: Paul continues on to say in verse 15, that "even unto this day" the veil remains on the heart of those who look to the old testament law which was (per verse 13) "abolished."
      Hebrews 12:18-24: Paul tells the Hebrews that they are no longer called to Mt. Sinai, where the law (10 Commandments) were given and where death awaited a sinner who simply touched the mountain, but to Mt. Zion, where grace abounds — for the sinner who is in Christ.
      Matthew 5:17-18: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”  Christ’s expressed purpose in coming to earth was to fulfill the law.   He apparently believed that he did so.  “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me,” Luke 24:44.  Fulfilling the law allowed it to be done away for believers.  After the cross, we are to be led by the Holy Spirit, not bound by the law.
       
      The law continues to exist for sinners who are not in Christ.  Paul describes the teachers of the law, and the purpose of the law this way:
       
      “ They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.  We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.  We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me,” 1 Timothy 1: 7-11.  Clearly, this reference to the law and its teachers is in the context of morality and sin.
       
      It is for these reasons that, I believe that it is a mistake to call those who are in Christ (e.g., members of the SDA Church) to be under a law that is “binding.”
       
      More, later, on your other questions.

  12. Stephen Ferguson
    14 January 2013 @ 11:43 am

    2. “. . . are the basis of God's covenant with His people . . .”

    Doesn’t this issue largely get back to the question of whether you see the 10 Commandments as a way of describing God’s Moral law, which was expounded by being placed in our hearts through the New Covenant experience (Jer 31:33), or whether you see the Decalogue as a mere dispensation of time, totally done away with and replaced with something new? 

    In some ways I wonder if we are arguing over semantics, which again isn’t helped by Paul’s inconsistent use of the term ‘nomos’.  In many ways, you are technically correct, as Christians under the New Covenant, we shouldn’t need the 10 Commandments, being God’s laws written in a negative manner on two tables of stone.  Instead, we should just naturally do what is right, because the Moral aspects of God’s eternal law will be written on our hearts, per your quotation of 2 Cor 3:3. 

    But before many of us can get to that point in our lives through the sanctification process, we need the Decalogue to teach us what retches we are in need of justification, as made clear in Gal 3:22,24-4:1; Rom 7:7-13,19.  Again, there isn’t a dispensation between the OT and NT, but rather in each of our lives, we who are naturally inclined to evil, need the black and white Decalogue to point us to our sinful states.  However, once under grace, I think you are technically correct (but perhaps a bit pedantic in attacking the FB), in that we are no longer following the negatively-word 10 Commandments, but their positive-spin equivalents, which will be written in our hearts.

    Funny enough, Buddhists actually have a very similar belief.  They believe that new initiates have to follow a laid-out written code.  However, eventually, one will naturally do what is right, without any need for external guidance.  This is also what the Bible suggests was the state of mankind at the beginning before the Fall, and what will be our eventual state as well in the future, where neighbor will no longer need to teach neighbor.

    • Preston Foster
      15 January 2013 @ 3:46 am

      Stephen,

      Herein lies the problem, as I see it. The moral law / 10 Commandments makes us conscious of sin — but does NOT sanctify us.  Sanctification is accomplished by and through Christ (Hebrews 2:11), not by the law. As stated earlier, I use the terms "moral law" and "10 Commandments" interchangeably, as that is the distinction most traditional Adventists make in the context of "the ceremonial laws were nailed to the cross, but not the moral law."

      If I am "technically correct" why would pointing out a problem with the FB be "pedantic?"  Are not the FBs pendantic, by definition?  If one of those beliefs, which binds those who Christ freed (2 Corinthians 3:17; Galatians 5:1-5), is incorrect, is that unimportant?  If our focus, in the New Covenant, should be the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:6, 8), not "the ministry of death written and engraved in stone" (2 Corinthians 3:7), is pointing that out being niggling?  Approaching Mt. Sinai (law) is death.  Approaching Mt. Zion (grace) is life (Hebrews 12: 18-24).

      These differences are nontrivial — and salvific. 

  13. Stephen Ferguson
    14 January 2013 @ 11:44 am

     3. “Salvation is all of grace and not of works, but its fruitage is obedience to the Commandments.”

    My understanding is that in some of the texts you quoted, such as Gal 3:21, Paul’s use of the term ‘nomos’ actually means legalism, not the Moral aspects of the Torah.
    Moreover, as I asked above, are you saying the 10 Commandments are somehow irrelevant or somehow done away with? 

    The Bible doesn’t tell us the Law is irrelevant; it tells us it is holy and its commands are holy and right and good (Rom. 7:7,12,13) and profitable to teach (2 Tim 3:16, keeping in mind the ‘scripture’ here is the OT). 

    The law (‘nomos’) Paul says is good and holy is the Decalogue, made clear in Rom 7:8 when Paul quotes ‘You must not covert’ (Ex 20:17).  How then can it be said that the Law has been done away with and no longer binding upon all people in every age? 

    Surely, in this sense the FB#19 is correct in saying that salvation is all of grace and not works, but its fruitage is obedience to the Commandments?

    • Preston Foster
      15 January 2013 @ 4:45 am

      Thoughout Galatians, Paul makes it clear he is talking explicitly about the moral law of the 10 Commandments, dealing with sin and justification: Galatians 4:24-25; Galatians 3:13,19 — the curse of the moral law being death; Galatians 3:24-25; Galatians 2:17-19; Galatians 5: 13-14.

      You ask, are the 10 Commandments somehow done away with?

      Tell me, how to you interpret these verses? (2 Corinthians 3:11-13 KJV;):

       "For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

      12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:

      13 And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished."

      Keep in mind, 2 Corinthians 3:7 provides the context, speaking in great detail about the "ministry of death written and engraved in stone . . . "

      Hebrews 8:13 says, " By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear."


      Again, I believe the law (10 Commandments /moral law remains — for sinners, for those who reject Christ (1 Timothy 1:7-11).  Those who accept Christ are not under the law (Romans 6:14, Galatians 5:18) and are and should remain unbound (Galatians 5:1-5).

      Regarding Paul's writings being unclear, I simply refer you Galatians 1:11-12, 6-8.
       

      FB 19 conflates the fruit of the Spirit with obedience to the law.  The problem is the fruit of the Spirit yields love, joy, peace, long-suffering, and other attributes "against which there IS NO LAW," (Galatians 5:22-23).  FB 19 claims that the fruit of grace is obedience to the law.

      The two are in direct contradiction.  The problem seems obvious (2 Corinthians 3:14-17).

  14. William Noel
    14 January 2013 @ 2:51 pm

    Preston,

    It is good to see your return to spiritual themes which is where your questions push us into discovering more about God. 

    It is a bit concerning to see you expressing the same view as New Tesatament-only Christians about the Ten Commandments being the "law" Paul was speaking about because that is textually incorrect.  Paul also calls the law just, holy and good.  So, how are we to know the difference between what is just, holy and good and what ended at the cross?  Even Peter wrote that it was sometimes hard to understand Paul's writings so it really is no surprise to see someone trying to reconcile apparently contradictory statements about the law. 

    A significant contributor to the debate is our habit of reading isolated verses looking for simple declarations instead of larger passages to gain a better view of the topic.  This becomes a serious problem when reading Paul's letters because his discussions are rarely concluded in simple statements and understanding is gained from reading his larger disucssion.  When you do that he provides plenty of clues to understand that he sees a clear difference between the fundamental and eternal laws given by God and those given as instructions pointing to the ministry of Christ in His work of redemption. 

    Another complicator to our understanding is that Paul assumes that the readers are familiar with the original law given by God and the ceremonial laws illustrating the redemptive ministry of Christ.  Jews instinctively understood that there was the law given by God and the laws written by Moses but modern christianity looks back and sees them as one and the same.  Add Peter's observation about Paul's writings often being hard to understand and it is easy to get lost in a fog when we read in one verse that the law is of no effect when it is still just, holy and good.

    A frequent topic in Paul's writings is how to deal with the ceremonial law.  Remember the controversy over circumcision?  To a faithful jew it was an essential proof of being obedient to God.  But to a gentile it was a useless act of mutiliation. If both were believers in Christ then instruction was needed to help resolve the controversy.  The leaders of the early church were able to agree to not making circumcision binding on gentile believers because it was part of the ceremonial laws and not a fundamental issue like adultery or respect for parents. 

    Another issue Paul runs into more than once is if the eating of meat was an act of idol worship because the meat in the local market often came from sacrifices at the local pagan temple.  Paul consels that it should not be an issue, but if a person's faith is weak he would never eat meat again so his action would not cause them to stumble and lose faith. 

    Discussing God's declaration that He would write His law in our hearts illustrates a problem for Adventists that is far larger than identification of what He would write or where.  That problem is knowing how God will do it and what that reveals about the relationship God wants to have with us.  It is through the ministry of the Holy Spirit that we will know the difference between right and wrong, be guided in intimate ways and become empowered to perform the miracles we speak about being done in the future, but which were promised without limitation in time.  We have fallen into the Satanic trap of using a written law to measure our relationship with God instead of allowing God to nurture that relationship and empower us for ministry through the working of the Holy Spirit.  All doubts and reservations about the power and working of the Holy Spirit are evidence of not knowing God and unwillingness to have the close relationship He desires to have with us.  As we draw closer to God through the ministry of the Holy Spirit the first blessings we enjoy are seeing items that were controversial in the past becoming meaningless and our focus turning into enjoying the adventure of ministry with Him.  So I think the fact we are having this discussion at all is evidence of how little we have embraced the Holy Spirit and how greatly we need Him.

  15. Ed Dickerson
    14 January 2013 @ 11:26 pm

    Preston,

    “ . . . for we are not under law, but under grace,” Roman 6:14.  How could this be if the law is “binding upon all people in every age?”

    I am astonished by such a question. If "the wages of sin is death," and "all have sinned," then how is it that Christians are not eternally dead? How is it we can be addressed–as the Corinthians were–as "saints?"  Has the law been done away with? Of course not. But Someone Else has paid the penalty. Our crime was attributed to him so that his innocence could be attributed to us. That's grace.

    The demands of the Law have not changed. They are still binding. But a way has been made.

    This is Christianity 101.

  16. Preston Foster
    15 January 2013 @ 2:33 am

    Ed,

    I did not make up the scripture.  It says, declaratively, "we are not under law . . ."

    Another text, Romans 10:4, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."

    Those who are in Christ are not under the law.  If you are not under the law, how can it bind you?  If Christ has paid the penalty, and you have accepted Him as your Savior, what is it that is binding you — accept your doubt as to the completeness of His work on the Cross?

    1 Timothy 1:9-11 says, explicitly, that the law was not made for the righteous. So, if we are in Christ, again, what is binding us?

    • Ed Dickerson
      15 January 2013 @ 4:59 am

      Preston,

      I was not under any illusion that you made up the verses. However, your rigid interpretation essentially rewrites them. It reminds me of the guy who objected to an article of mine in SIGNS. I said we could not know when Christ was returning. He countered that the verse says, "We cannot know the day, nor the hour," by replying, "It doesn't say we cannot know the year." Silly me. I thought it was a figure of speech.

      Somehow you have got the word "binding" –it's all I can do to resist the pun– caught up in your mental machinery so that it is identical to "under." It demonstrates a failure to understand either law or language. "Binding" in this case refers to the jurisdiciton of the law. "Under" means subject to, especially in the sense of a legal penalty.

      I am married. I am not divorced. Does that mean the law concerning divorce is not 'binding' in my case? It would be an interesting plea in court. Of course the law is binding upon me. I'm just not under the penalty of the law at this time.

      Now, adultery is a cause for divorce. For the record, I have never committed adultery. But if I had,  would the law be binding upon me? Suppose my wife decided to be gracious and forgive me, and not seek divorce. Would that nullify the law? Don't be ridiculous.

      The person who is in Christ is deemed to have obeyed perfectly. They are not under the penalty of the law, but the law is still binding.

      I keep hearing John 3:10 in my mind:  “So you are a teacher of Israel,” said Jesus, “and you do not recognise such things?"

  17. Preston Foster
    15 January 2013 @ 5:14 am

    Ed, 

    I do tend to take the Bible at its word.

    We have all sinned.  Correct?

    So how is it that I, who have accepted Christ and His sacrifice, am saved by His blood?  It is because the law has been satisfied through Christ's fulfillment of it and death for my breaking of it.  So, then, in Him, I am no longer bound by the law.  The price for breaking it has already been paid.

    If a bill had been paid, there is no debt. 

    How can I be free in Christ (Galatians 5:1-2), yet bound by the law?  In your analogy, if I am married, divorce law do not apply to me.  How then, am I bound by them?  I have no relationship to them — at all.

    Again, you may want to review 1 Timothy 1:7-11.

  18. Elaine Nelson
    15 January 2013 @ 5:17 am

    When the Bible writers used the term "Law" they were always referring to the entire body of law given to the Israelites; at times called "Moses" or "Moses' Law," but there was no confusion about its meaning.

    Now in the NT does the writers' use of Law have a  distinctly different meaning?  If it is used just as in the OT then it includes the entire 613 laws found in the Torah.  If this is the meaning and intent of the writers, why does no one claim that every one of them is still to be obeyed?  Where did they have authority to choose some while eliminating others? 

     

    Adventists have long preached the  perpetuity of the Law; but it has been a very selective use:  claiming some are still binding while others were no longer in effect following Christ's death.  How is a Bible student able to distinguish among all the 600+ laws to determine which must never be broken and those which do not apply to Christians today?

    Or, was the Law never given to Christians but only to the Israelites?  It was not given to their forefathers, nor any surrounding tribes, so when did Christians become subject to that Law?  Wasn't this decision made, once and for all at the controversy in Jerusalem between the Jews and Gentile Christian and the decision was made that the Gentiles were not to be subject to the Jewish Law?

  19. laffal
    15 January 2013 @ 6:42 am

    Here is an interesting piece of an article coming from the 2/14/1956 Message Magazine by Taylor Bunch:

    Legalism is always Christless, loveless, and useless. True righteousness is the fruit of faith and love. When the Holy Spirit transfers the law and word of God from the tables of stone and the Scriptures to the mind and heart, obedience becomes a delight. Christ, the Word of God, and the living Law, lives out His life of perfect obedience in the one in whom He abides. Righteousness is therefore first of all right-being, which always produces right-doing. When the heart is right, the conduct will be right, and the person can say with Paul, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now
    live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20.

  20. Stephen Ferguson
    15 January 2013 @ 9:40 am

    Ed and William, I agree with much of what you have said above and it is said well.

    Preston, I wonder if you are perhaps fixated on the use of the word 'binding' in the FB?  In defence to the writers of the FB, that is a term applied to the Moral Law (Decalogue) found in other historic creeds of Christianity, such as the Westminster Confession of Faith, as I described above.

    I guess what do we all mean by saying the Decalogue is or is not 'binding'?  I wonder to what extent we are having a pedantic debate about semantics, and talking past each other, worthy of those 1st millenium Trinitarian debates about what 'of same substance' meant, where it turns out both sides were really meaning much the same thing using different language and reasoning.

    As to the meaning of binding, yes the Declagoue does not 'bind' us in the sense that God does not punish us for failing to live up to its requirements.  However, that is not to say that the Decalogue is of no use whatsoever, or has been replaced by something new in a new disponsation of time, as Pentecostal anonmonists or Elaine seem to suggest.  

    Rather, the NT makes clear Decalogue is still useful and relevant in helping point out sin (Gal 3:22,24-4:1;Rom 7:7-13,19).  It is also useful and relevant in being holy and right and good (Rom. 7:7,12,13) and profitable to teach (2 Tim 3:16).  

    As Christians, the Decalogue is not done away with but actually expounded  (Matt 5:17-19), going from something we must consciously make an effort to obey to something we obey naturally, as it becomes written in our hearts instead of tables of stone (Jer 31:33).  As Christians, not only does Christ still expect us to keep obeying the Decalogue (Matt 23:23), but expects us to obey it to a higher standard that the Pharisees, as we no longer keep it in a legalistic manner of form over its spirit (Matt 5:20), but obey it naturally where it is written in our hearts.  

    To that extent, I wonder Preston if you would have less objections if FB#16 had used the word 'useful' or 'relevant' instead of 'binding' as applying eternally for every people in every age?

  21. Stephen Ferguson
    15 January 2013 @ 10:01 am

    And as to this whole semantic debate about whether the law is 'binding', and as to proof texts, there is nothing clearer in my own mind than Rom 3:31:
     
    "Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law."
     
    And by way of an analogy, when a many enters into a covenant of marriage he gives certain vows of fidelity.  If a man breaks those vows, by committing adultery, his wife may have certain remedies of condemnation against him, both legal and religious, including the right to a divorce, the possession of childern, and the acquisition of his property.
     
    But say that a wife of such an adulterous man forgives him instead.  Does one say then that the vows on their wedding day were pointless?  One could make a certain technical argument, as Preston seems to be making, that those vows were not ‘binding’, as they really had no legal or religious effect, because there were no consequences as a result of breaking them (at least for the man, but not perhaps from the perspective of his hurt wife).  From a certain perspective, that type of argument is somewhat true.
     
    However, that is not to say that the wedding vows are irrelevant or not useful.  The wedding vows were the standard.  The wedding vows demonstrate to the man just how grave and hurtful an act he has caused, and hopefully that will lead the man to seek real forgiveness instead of simply justifying his actions.  Hopefully a married man, on account of his vows, would treat adultery in a more serious manner than say an unmarried man who has one-night stands every other weekend.
     
    Moreover, a married man forgiven of adultery may not be condemned for his adultery, and he may even know that his wife will forgive him again if he commits adultery a second time in the future.  But is that to say the man should then continue committing adultery because he is under no condemnation?  Does that mean his marriage vows mean for nothing?  God forbid! 
     
    A married man forgiven of adultery should, if he were truly sorry, be an even better and loving husband.  Such a man should recognize just how much his actions hurt his wife.  Such a forgiven man should uphold his marriage vows even more so than the unmarried man or the unadulterous man, for he now knows how much his wife truly loves him and how truly undeserving he is of her. 
     
    Such a forgiven man should keep his marriage vows out of love, even more so than the unmarried man or the unadulterous man, because the forgiven man knows his wife will not enforce her legal remedies over him. The forgiven man realises that he need not worry about his wife trying to enforce her rights over him through their vows in some legalistic manner, because she has decided not to enforce her legal rights at all.  Such a man realises that his vows are still very much 'binding' – but obeyed out of love in their true spirit, not in some legalistic manner out of fear of legal repucussions.  
     
    And so it is with God…

  22. Preston Foster
    15 January 2013 @ 12:26 pm

    Stephen,

    Indeed, words are important.  I wrote the article, in large part, because I object to the word "binding."  The problem is not semantic.  It is spiritual.

    Galatians 5:1 speaks specifically about resisting being bound (again) with the "yolk of slavery."  This spiritual slavery is explicitly defined, at length, in the previous chapter as the law of Mt. Sinai (Galatians 4:24-25), and contrasted to the freedom of sonship (Galatians 4:4-7; Galatians 4:28-31).

    Galatians 4 and 5 are dedicated to the notion that in Christ, we are free and unbound.

    The difference is further examined in a earlier column: Pardon v. Parole (https://atoday.org/article/853/columns/foster-preston/2011/pardon-v-parole).  Ed and Stephen you are, in my view, recommending that we live our spiritual lives like parolees, given a degree of freedom, but still bound by the law.  I suggest that we live like those who are pardoned, whose record has been cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb.

    The difference is, simply, freedom.

    • Stephen Ferguson
      15 January 2013 @ 12:55 pm

      'Parole Christians' vs 'Career Criminal Christians' – 2 extemes for the 'Pardoned Christian' to avoid

      Preston: "Indeed, words are important.  I wrote the article, in large part, because I object to the word "binding."  The problem is not semantic.  It is spiritual."

      So what of my suggestion.  If the FB#19 used the word 'useful' or 'relevant' instead of 'binding', would you still be objecting and would you still have written the article?  Even if we are not 'bound' by the condemnation of the Decalogue, do you still believe the Decalogue is useful and relevant?  It still isn't clear to me what you think re that.

      "Ed and Stephen you are, in my view, recommending that we live our spiritual lives like parolees, given a degree of freedom, but still bound by the law.  I suggest that we live like those who are pardoned, whose record has been cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb."

      Sorry, I respectfully disagree.  A paroled man needs to be on his best behaviour, less he fear the judge or parole board send him back to prison.  I agree that many Christians do indeed live like that, but I am not advocating that.

      A pardoned man need no fear of ever returning to prison for that crime.  A good analogy would be someone found not guilty on a technicality for a crime that he should have been punished for, but where the rules about double jeopardy prevent the man from ever being tried and sent to prison for that crime – no matter that he does deserve it. 

      However, my point is how should such a pardonned man approach the law?  Should he have an attitude that he gamed the system once and could game it again?  Should such a person become a career criminal, given they have gotten away with the crime – and perhaps know how to do so again?  Or should such a person be truly thankful for the second chance, like the main character in Les Miserable?  Should a person forgiven much be more or less thankful than the person forgiven little – as Jesus noted in his parable?  

      A paroled man obey for fear of future punishment, whereas a pardoned man truly is thankful for the pardon and becomes a better person – even more law-abiding citizen than the average person out of grattitude.  But what I object to, and it isn't clear to me if you are advocating it, is the philosophy of the career criminal who knows a secret formula to avoid future punishment. 

      Paul certainly condemned the parole Christian attitude, which leads to legalism.  But he equally condemned the career criminal Christian attitude as well, stating in Rom 6:1,2:

      "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin"

    • Elaine Nelson
      15 January 2013 @ 3:16 pm

      The Law is best illustrated in both Romans and Hebrews;

      "laws affect a person only during his lifetime.  A married woman has legal obligations to her husband while he is alive, but all these obligations come to an end if the husband dies.  So if she gives herself to another man while her husband is still alive, she is legally an adulteress; but after her husband is dead her legal obligations come to and end, and she can marry someone else without becoming an adulteress.  That is why you, my brothers, who through the body of Christ are now dead to the Law can now give yourselves to another husband, to him who rose from the dead…..But now we are rid of the Law, freed by death from our imprisonment, free to serve in the spiritual way and not the old way of a written law."  Romans 7:1-6.

      Can it be made more plain?  It is not the ceremonial law (a term never used in the Bible), but as Paul writes:  the WRITTEN LAW."  In other letters, Paul calls it the letters written in stone.

      The writer of the Hebrews echoes the same, referring to the First Covenant that has now been overriden by the New Covenant which ceased when Christ died:  it was only valid until his death; he compares to the covenants to the union of Abraham with Sarah and Hagar.  The children of Hagar became slaves; but we are children, not of the slave-girl, but of the free-born wife.  "When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free.  If you look to the Law to make you justified, then you have separated yourselves from Christ."

      • Stephen Ferguson
        16 January 2013 @ 11:50 am

        Elaine:  Can it be made more plain? It is not the ceremonial law (a term never used in the Bible), but as Paul writes: the WRITTEN LAW." In other letters, Paul calls it the letters written in stone.”
         
        Elaine, you are selectively quoting and proof-texting from the Roman 7 (where I understand you don’t actually believe in the Bible anyway). 
         
        You quote from Rom 7:1-6 that ‘now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.’
         
        But you shopped short in your quoting.  What does Paul go on then to say in Rom 7:7:
         
        ‘What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”’
         
        Whilst the Law is not ‘binding’ in the sense that we do not and cannot keep it to earn salvation, it is still ‘useful’ and ‘relevant’ in pointing our sin.  It continues to do so today, because as naturally evil beings, we often rationalise to ourselves and deny our consciences that we are wrong.  Without the Law, we do not know we are sinners and thus reject Christ’s offer of salvation by grace – see Rom 7:14-21. And the Law (‘nomos’) here is clearly the Decalogue, as Paul quotes from the commandment not to covert.
         
        And Paul largely repeats this role of the Law, to condemn us so we will understand our need for grace, in Rom 7:21:
         
        “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.”
         
        Paul then goes further to explain in Rom 7:12:
         
        “So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.”
         
        The Law has not finished its role in pointing out sin – it continues to do so until this very day.  It is not a mere dispensation of time but rather something that condemns us, as it should so we seek grace, right up until today.  Mankind is naturally evil, and thus doesn’t know it needs salvation – and that is the role of the Moral Law written on tables of stone.
         
        Thus, the Law doesn’t save – but it maintains its very important role in helping us realise we need saving!  In that sense, it is ‘binding’ and ‘everlasting upon all generations.’
         
        When we accept grace, and when God starts to work in us, we become new creations.  At that stage, the Moral Law written on stone, which was necessary to point out sin to evil creatures who by nature would not recognise their doomed state, is no longer needed.  Instead, the Moral Law becomes written on our hearts as long ago prophesied in Jer 31:33.   We start to become like Adam through a process of sanctification, who was naturally inclined by love to obedience of God’s Moral Law.
         
        But that New Inner Law is not a ‘new’ Moral Law, but rather a reflection in our new inner selves per Rom 7:22:
         
        “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law.”
         
        The new born-again creature does not merely keep the Moral Law, but expounds it by keeping its spirit and not merely its letter, for he or she has righteousness that exceeds the Pharisees.  But Paul, who is indeed quite confusing, largely confirms Jesus’ teachings that love in the 2 Great Commandments do not do away with the Moral Law from expound and fulfil them.  Paul makes this clear in Rom 13:8-10:
         
        “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
         
        As a new creature in Christ, we do not keep go on sinning, because Paul again makes clear in Rom 6:1-2:
         
        “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”
         
        Rather, as born-again Christians, per Rom 6:12:
         
        “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.”
         
        In that sense, the Moral Law is still binding and everlasting upon all generations in its 2 states – both negative and positive.  Whilst the Moral Law cannot save (and that point needs to be emphasized continually):
         

        • Justification – In its negative form, written on two tables of stone as the Decalogue, it points out sin to we human beings that are so naturally evil that we fail to recognise our own need for salvation.

        • Sanctification – In its positive form, as 2 Great Commandments of Love, written on our hearts, God works through us to do good works as fruits of the spirit.

  23. Preston Foster
    15 January 2013 @ 3:46 pm

    Stephen,

    What is notable to me, here, is the desire to hold on to the law as a guide (per your suggestion), after we, who know Christ, have are counseled to let it go and walk in faith (Galatians 4:28-30), led by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:10-14; Galatians 3:19-24), as the Spirit is more glorious and lasting than the law (2 Corinthians 3:9-11).

    I believe the FB belief should focus on being led by the Spirit rather than being bound or led by the law.  We are, after all, not "new believers" who do not know Christ.  The law has brought us to Christ.  We should now be led by the Spirit (Galatians 3:23-24).

    • William Noel
      15 January 2013 @ 8:13 pm

      Preston,

      Please remember that historic Adventism has been teaching three great falsehoods about the Holy Spirit that we must allow God to destroy if we are ever to enter into the relationship with Him that is promised to us.

      First is that the Holy Spirit is something to defend against.  This comes from a long history of disproving the falsehoods about the Holy Spirit promoted by the charismatic movement.  We've developed almost a knee-jerk reflex where any discussion about the Holy Spirit quickly turns into rejection instead of embrace.  

      Second is the idea that the Holy Spirit will only be present after a great outpouring that happens at the "Latter Rain."  This has been turned into an unwritten belief that the Holy Spirit is neither present or available to us today.  

      Third, because of our emphasis on disproving the errors of the charismatic movement and their view of the Ten Commandments as no longer binding on Christians, is that any belief in the Holy Spirit will lead a person into rejecting the Law of God. 

      A person must overcome whichever of those concepts they hold if they are ever to discover the reality and truth of the Holy Spirit.  He is not a deceiver to be feared, but the loving God who wants to live inside us, guide us and empower us to do things we've never imagined being able to do in our own power. 

  24. Preston Foster
    15 January 2013 @ 10:18 pm

    William,

    I believe you are on to something here.  I particularly resonate with your third point.  I am astounded at the lack of confidence in being led by the Holy Spirit to lead where the law would lead us –and to much greater heights than that.

    The power of the Holy Spirit to interpret the Word, to lead us to live by the law of love (The Royal Law, James 2:8), and to empower our influence for the Kingdom is vastly under-appreciated.

    I believe that our reliance on the law short-circuits the power available to us in the Holy Spirit.

    God is a rewarder of faith.

    • William Noel
      16 January 2013 @ 1:57 pm

      Preston,

      Let's expand the difference between the concepts of being led by the law and led by the Spirit.  The law is static but the Spirit is dynamic.  Where the law is stated with specific limitations, the Spirit helps us deal with the nuances and challenges that come along.  If we stick with the law alone we are left to resolve issues on our own, but if we are following the Spirit we receive timely instruction as we need it. 

      After meeting the Holy Spirit and getting into a gift-based ministry I can no longer imagine living by the law alone because living with the Spirit is so much greater a spiritual experience.  I see the direct guidance of the Spirit often.  My ministry is helping others, primarily with challenges involving their homes, and the Spirit gives me insights and makes things happen that are just too out of the ordinary to be attributed to any other source.  Here are a couple examples:

      A few days ago I had driven my pickup to Home Depot and on the way home was waiting several cars back in the line at a traffic light.  At the next crossover in the highway I saw a man standing beside an older-model pickup with the hood up.  I immediately asked God if I should stop to help and felt like God was telling me "yes."  Then I remembered the jumper cables were in another vehicle.  Would I be able to help.  Then the light changed to green.  In the short distance would I find a break where I could move into the left lane?  The driver next to me started out slowly, giving me a break.  As I pulled up in front of the other pickup I saw the man already had jumper cables run out on the ground.  All I had to do was pop the hood and connect.  He was distressed and unsure about the problem or the solution.  I suspected a dead cell in his battery and suggested that he stop at an auto parts just down the road and have it checked.  He was grateful for my stopping and I felt blessed by both being able to help and watching God give me the opportunity.

      This last Sunday morning I got a call from a woman in our church asking me to come over and look at a situation.  She thought the water heater was leaking and they had water seeping into the house on the concrete slab.  A small emergency in our home required my attention so it was 45 minutes later before I could call back and get directions.  When I got there I quickly saw that the husband was not in a good mood because of conflict with the wife.  We looked at the situation.  Since it was a gas water heater and the law requires them to be installed by a licensed plumber there was no way I could do the job.  So we discussed options.  I even drew them a map to a rental company where they could get a dehumidifier to help dry out the house.  The husband knows very little about home maintenance and had done little.  I quickly spotted several things needing attention.  So I asked if I could do a walk-around outside the house with him to see if there were things needing attention.  He had done very little in the 19 years since buying the house new and the list was both long and quite expensive.  I explained options for different tasks and left it to him to decide how to proceed.  My team from the church will be happy to come and help with the painting but other things are probably best left to pros.  The husband and wife both called me later to thank me for coming and telling them how to address their challenges. 

      This brings me to something really important in any discussion about the Holy Spirit.  Spiritual gifts are given to build the church.  I used to hold the traditional defenition that "building-up" the church meant public evangelism to bring in new members.  After getting involved in gift-based ministry God has taught me differently.  Many of us take our homes for granted and do not think about how important they are to us.  So if you get a problem and someone from the church comes over to help you with fixing it, that builds fellowship in degrees few Adventists have experienced.  It is a wonderful experience I wish more would experience.  As we work we feel the presence of God, our hearts are drawn closer together in friendship and we often accomplish more than we expected.  Often I go home with an eagerness to tell my wife what I have just seen God do. 

      • Joe Erwin
        16 January 2013 @ 2:10 pm

        However people are inspired to be helpful and decent, great! Perhaps the "Holy Spirit" and the "spirit of human decency" are one and the same….

  25. Anonymous
    15 January 2013 @ 10:32 pm

    "Through the agency of the Holy Spirit they [The Ten Commandments] point out sin…"

    This is a really wonderful discussion, and I appreciate very much, Preston, the fact that you have focused on the centrality of the Holy Spirit and Christ's living presence in our lives, rather than precepts of law to guide us. Some of the gymnastics you use to make a highly legalistic argument against legalism are too scholastic for my taste. But I sense that your heart is in the right place.

    The Spirit is the enemy of institutionalism. Adventism's insistence on institutional remnancy has left many of its members Spirit challenged. The statement from FB 19 which I have highlighted encapsulates the Church's historic tendency to distrust the Spirit unless it can be conscripted to serve some "higher" purpose – like keeping the faithful in line. The Church knows what is right; what we should do and how we should live our lives is mapped out in Church teachings and writings of Ellen White, through which Scripture should be viewed. The Holy Spirit simply gives us the strength and power to do what is "right." Thus, the church closed itself off to progressive truth, and left many of us quite handicapped when it came to an experiential understanding of the Spirit.

    Unfortunately, many Adventists aren't willing to discipline their hearts and minds to be attuned to the presence of Christ and voice of the Spirit. They have thrown off the chains of religious legalism in favor of secular legalism, and have neither a desire or interest to find out what it means to live under the New Covenant, in harmony with and submission to the Spirit, allowing God to daily imprint His will on their lives. So the spiritual anarchists in the Church end up struggling with the spiritual dictators to see whether Adventism shall go back to the future of the Judges or back to the future of the Kings. 

  26. earl calahan
    16 January 2013 @ 6:40 am

    The Commandants 10, have eternal significance for God's creation. They express love to God, and love to our neighbors. Each of the Commandments reflect God's love. Matt. 22: 36-40, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with… and thy neighbor as thyself, the 1st & 2nd GREAT Commandants, on these two hang all the law and the prophets. The Commandants are not a condemnation of those who are in Christ, they are a description of what sin is. Those who have accepted the Saviors sacrifice are not under the law, but are abiding in God's perfect love.

  27. Tapiwa Mushaninga
    16 January 2013 @ 7:59 am

    Thank you Preston for outlining what antinomianism is. This is truly the first antinomianistic adventist article I have ever seen.

    • William Noel
      16 January 2013 @ 2:01 pm

      Tapiwa,

      That is a natural charge to make when you know only the law and have never tasted the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, who is promised to lead us "into all truth."  That means we have more to learn and God can only teach us those things when we learn them directly from Him. 

  28. Preston Foster
    16 January 2013 @ 11:27 am

    Tapiwa,

    Sadly, but accurately, your unsubstantiated accusation is also the fulfillment of a biblical prophecy:

    "But you are now being persecuted by those who want you to keep the law, just as Ishmael, the child born by human effort, persecuted Isaac, the child born by the power of the Spirit," Galatians 4:29 (NLT).

    I pray that you can build enough faith to believe that the Spirit is not contrary to the law (Galatians 5:7-9), but is intended to have us live as God's original intent for Adam was: to live freely in His will, unbound by the law (Galatians 5:5).

    Peace.

    • Stephen Ferguson
      16 January 2013 @ 11:46 am

      Hang on Preston, how is what Tapiwa saying an accusation – and how is it unsubstantiated?  Isn't he rightly making a statement of fact?  Aren't you indeed advocating antinomianism and on that basis isn't his statement completely substantiated, based on your own now thoroughly expressed comments?

      The term antinomianism is defined as a person who believes that Christians are released by grace from the obligation of observing the moral law’ (Oxford English Dictionary)

      Isn't this indeed what you are arguing?  I'm no theologian, but a quick persual of the wikipedia entry on antinomianism, which has many biblical arguments for and against, seems to indicate that you are using the pro-antinomanist proof texts and using their arguments:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antinomianism

      I am not sure if Tapiwa meant the term as anything other than a statement of fact (as it is somewhat impossible to tell tone from email), but I am sure many of us, including Tapiwa, would appreciate an explanation then as to how your position is not antinomianism?  If you are indeed advocating antinominism, why not just come out and admit it?  

      I have no huge problems with you believing that at all, as even has a right to their view and to be respected for it, especially if you still think the Sabbath isn't undermined by that position; although, I struggle to see how (especially since your only primary supporter here appears to be Elaine, who has long used an antinomianist argument against seventh-day Sabbath keeping).  

      However, a quick perusal of the comments above suggest that within the wide spectrum of the Adventist tent, both 'sides' of the debate, both 'conservative-historicals' and 'liberal-progressives' seem to be in consensus that they all broadly agree with current FB#19 re the continuing use and relevance of the Decalogue, including the FB's use of the phrase 'binding upon all people in every age.'

      • William Noel
        16 January 2013 @ 2:08 pm

        Stephen,

        The Holy Spirit does nothing that is contrary to the law because He is God and consistent with all other revelation given through time.  Fear about the Spirit somehow leading us away from the law is based on concepts that I outlined above. 

        On the personal level, I can assure you from my experience that the Holy Spirit WILL show you things that conflict with your concepts about the law.  That is an essential part of our education that comes when we are in direct communication with God. 

  29. Tapiwa Mushaninga
    16 January 2013 @ 12:26 pm

    I am sorry if you feel that I was persecuting you but my comment was more of an observation than an adhominem attack. If you are antinomian why are you offended when you are addressed by that term? Desmond Ford's theology was evangelical, yours is the clearest expression of antinomianism I have ever seen. I actually thought you articulated your antinomian position beautifully.

    As Stephen said you have every right to believe what you want, but antinomianism is just that antinomianism I mean if the shoe fits……………

    I am guessing the sabbath is not binding to adventists so why all the fuss about the mark of the beast?

  30. Preston Foster
    16 January 2013 @ 12:51 pm

    Tapiwa, I am not offended — I am greatful.  I wrote this article to raise these issues and to bring context to what the Word says about them.

    Also, Tapiwa, if you read the article objectively, you might have noticed that I said this about the Sabbath: "The Sabbath existed before the law and remains after the law (Hebrews 4: 3-6).  The Sabbath needs no further protection.  I believe we, Seventh Day Adventists, must develop enough faith to state that our fundamental work, our fundamental belief, is belief itself (John 6:29)."
     

    Stephen, where we differ on this is that you apparently believe that being released from the obligation to be led by the 10 Commandments will leave you no other alternative but to live an immoral life.  

    I believe, per Galatians 5:16, that the Holy Spirit is the ONLY force who can lead us to live moral and righteous lives that EXCEEDS the demands of the moral law (BTW, it is notable that the word "love" does not appear in the 10 Commandments).  Love is, however, the first fruit borne by being led by the Spirit, against which there is no law (Galatians 5:22).

  31. Stephen Ferguson
    16 January 2013 @ 1:49 pm

    "Stephen, where we differ on this is that you apparently believe that being released from the obligation to be led by the 10 Commandments will leave you no other alternative but to live an immoral life."

    I never said that, and again, that is a common argument raised by Antinominists.  Like Tapiwa said, that is not an acusation of any sort but merely an observation or categorisation.

    However, I never suggested those who denied that the Moral Law (Decalogue) was 'binding' would be immoral.  Rather, I believe that your statement is inherently nonsense because to live a moral life instead of an immoral life implictly means to follow the Decalogue, because the Decalogue is the very definition of morality (but as a negative description).  Love isn't something distinct from the Moral Law, love IS the sum of and expoundment of the Moral Law (but as a positive description).

    Again, we keep going back to these false notions:

    • No one is saying that keeping the Moral Law (Decalogue) is the path to salvation – it isn't – because it only condemns.
    • No one is saying Christians are bound in any sense whatsoever to keep the ceremonial-cult ordinances or theocratic sundry-civil laws – which were mere shadows and no are redundant in the Cross.
    • However, the negative aspect of the Moral Law (Decalogue), written on those two tables of stone, do and will remain relevant and useful, and in that sense binding and eternal – as pointing out sin to humans so evil that they no longer recognise their retched condition.
    • Moreover, as new creations, we still keep the Moral Law (2 Great Commandments of Love), written on our hearts which means to do what is right naturally, as mankind did before the Fall – we actually become even greater law-keepers, because our righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees, and we obey out of grattitude for the Pardon, not out of fear for having our Parole rescinded.  

    As Ed said way before, this is pretty much Christianity 101 and the cornerstone of the Christian faith and creed – at least that is what I believe. 

    • Preston Foster
      16 January 2013 @ 6:03 pm

      Stephen,

      You say, "Rather, I believe that your statement is inherently nonsense because to live a moral life instead of an immoral life implictly means to follow the Decalogue, because the Decalogue is the very definition of morality (but as a negative description)."

      How is it, then, that all the righteous men who lived prior to the law being given (Enoch and Joesph, for example), managed to live a righteous life?

      Perhaps, they were led by the Holy Spirit?

  32. Stephen Ferguson
    16 January 2013 @ 2:14 pm

    Yes I agree Tapiwa and good points.  The problem is these definitions of 'obligation' and 'binding'.  

    • Preston Foster
      16 January 2013 @ 5:57 pm

      Agreed.  Thanks, TIMO.  🙂

  33. Stephen Ferguson
    16 January 2013 @ 2:24 pm

    Perhaps Jesus said it best at all in his very short statement of John 8:11, to the prostitute caught in the act of adultery:

    'And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."'

    What is sin but transgression of the Law.  The Law condemned the woman, because it can't save, but it allowed the woman to recognise her need for grace.  Once she found forgiveness in Jesus, He offered her a new life, one without sin.  And that new life without sin is a life as a Law-keeper, one without transgressing the Law, but not out of fear of punishment, but out of grattitude with the Spirit living in her.

    The problem is:

    • Legalists read the above passage all backwards, as if Jesus had said, "Go and sin no more THEN I will not condemn you" – but Jesus didn't say that.
    • Antinominists read the above passage as if it is missing the last part of the sentence, as if Jesus had said, "I will not condemn you WITHOUT go and sin no more" – but Jesus din't say that either.
    • The position of historical Christianity, despite all the semantic debates about 'binding' and 'obligation', is exactly as Jesus put it – 'neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more'.

  34. Stephen Ferguson
    16 January 2013 @ 2:37 pm

    And perhaps a non-Pauline source for once on the same thought on this subject from 1 John 3:4-6:
     
    Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.’
     
    And to break that down into the three phases of the born again experience:
     
    Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness’:  Which corresponds to Paul’s points in Rom 7:7 about the Law’s usefulness not in saving us, but actually the opposite, in helping us realize we need saving, by telling us what sin is.
     
    ‘But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin’:  So the Law does not save at all, and in that sense it is dead, and it isn’t binding or obligatory, because law-keeping won’t help us one squat.  It is a free gift of grace, bought by Jesus who alone kept the Law in all its requirements.  In that sense, the Law isn’t ‘binding’ or ‘obligatory’ on us, but it was on Christ, and He paid the price for it.
     
    ‘No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him’:  Some who is in Christ might not be ‘obligated’ or ‘bound’ in a legal says to keep the Law, out of fear of punishment.  But someone who has the Holy Spirit in them won’t be able to help themselves from keeping the Law, because keeping the Law means to stop sin, where sin means to transgress the Law.  In that says the Law is still ‘binding’ and ‘obligatory’, and it certainly is ‘eternal’, and even more so, because Law-keeping becomes a natural thing.  And when the Law is written in our hearts, what Law is that exactly – it is the Moral Law of course.
     
    Preston, in that sense I do get what you are trying to say in your objection to the terms ‘binding’ or even ‘obligatory’ and ‘eternal’.  But I wonder if in your fight against the Adventist default position of legalism, you have taken a bridge too far to Antinominism.

    • Preston Foster
      16 January 2013 @ 3:04 pm

      Stephen,

      Perhaps, just perhaps, YOU might misunderstand me because or YOUR interpretation of the word "binding."  Being unbound by the law does not equate (in Christ) to lawlessness.  Being led by the Holy Spirit will lead you into righteousness and more.  The point I am pushing is that in the New Covenant we are to live UNBOUND by the law BECAUSE we are led by the Spirit.  Pharisees kept the law.  But they could not recognize Christ when He stood before them.  The Spirit will not lead us contrary to the law.

  35. Preston Foster
    16 January 2013 @ 2:39 pm

    Stephen,

    What seems illogical to me is the desire to label me an antinomian, while ignoring the Bible references that I have provided that support righteous living (Galatians 5:16, James 2:8, 2 Corinthinans 3:9-11, and more).  Where have I advocated sinning?  I simply advocate freedom IN CHRIST, which can hardly mean unrighteousness.

    I have simply pointed out what the New Covenant says about the law, our relationship to it, and its use (to which neither you nor Tapiwa have directly addressed, thus making your labeling of my position, "unsubstantiated," in my view.

    Again, this (referenced earlier) is what the Bible says about the purpose of the law in the New Covenant.  Please tell me how this position is antinomial:

    "They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.  We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.  We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me."


    I have, from the beginning of this strand, been advocating the New Covenant instruction that we, in faith, be led by the Spirit, whose leading is MORE GLORIOUS that that of the law written and engraved in stone (2 Corinthians 3:6,9).  Still, you see that as, somehow, advocating lawlessness.

    I am simply advocating that we walk the path the Bible has carved for New Covenant believers: that we be led INTO RIGHTEOUSNESS by the Spirit rather than by the law:

    "Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.  Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed.  So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.  Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian," Galatians 3: 21-24.
     

    • Stephen Ferguson
      16 January 2013 @ 3:06 pm

      'What seems illogical to me is the desire to label me an antinomian, while ignoring the Bible references that I have provided that support righteous living.'

      Preston, my undestanding that those labelled antimonian do still advocate righteous living – that isn't the problem.  The problem is that they seem to advocate a stance that the Moral Law (Decalogue) was only a dispensation in time, now done away with an no longer relevant (which is perhaps a better term than 'obligatory' or 'binding').  That stance makes no sense because to be moral or 'righteous' means to be a 'law-keeper', because as sin is transgression of the Law so righteousness is adherence to the Law.  The problem are those who think human efforts to keep the Law will save them, which is a legalism I have never advocated.  

      As to whether you advocate antimonianism, that is difficult to assess, although you do seem to raise their arguments and quote their texts.  But I still haven't been able to get out of you (unless you did answer later), whether you would still agree that the Decalogue is still 'useful' and 'relevant' this side of the Cross, in pointing out sin to us, even today, per Rom 7:7?

      'We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers…"

      Preston that's us!  How do we get to the New Covenant experience being led by the Spirit?  First, we need to know we need saving, which is the job of the Law as Paul makes clear in Rom 7:7.  In that sense, the Law certainly doesn't save us, but it is still vital to salvation.  Grace is the lifeboat, but the Law tells us we are on the Titantic.  

      Thus, the Decalogue hasn't been replaced by a new dispensation.  Rather, the move from the negative aspects of the Moral Law, written on stone, to the positive aspects of the Moral Law, written in love on our hearts, happens in each of us.

      'I have, from the beginning of this strand, been advocating the New Covenant instruction that we, in faith, be led by the Spirit, whose leading is MORE GLORIOUS that that of the law written and engraved in stone…Again, this (referenced earlier) is what the Bible says about the purpose of the law in the New Covenant.'

      And what Law is that written on our hearts – it is the Moral Law of course.  The Law itself doesn't change as much as our attitude to it, or rather our inclination towards it.  If we stop sinning, that means we stop breaking the Law, because sin is transgression of the Law.  However, we don't stop sinning out of a sense of duty to the negative 10 Commands on stone, because we are saved by grace and not works, but out of a new inclindation per the 2 Great Commandments.  

      But the end point is under the New Covenant, through the Spirit, we stop sinning – which is to stop breaking God's Moral Law – which is the Decalogue (in its negative sense) or the 2 Great Commandments of Love (in its positive sense).

      But the Decalogue and 2 Great Commandments of Love are not separate Laws – they are both the Moral Law.  One is a school master that deliberately leads to death, so we will cling to the grace of Christ.  The other is the new creation.   

      'Where have I advocated sinning?'

      Just so we are absolutely clear, to stop sinning means to stop breaking the Moral Law – do you agree?  And which Moral Law is that?  You quote James 2, which makes clear that the Royal Law is part and parcel the same as the 10 Commandments – a positive and negative description of the same coin. 

      I still think you are conflating:

      – Aspects of the ceremonial Jewish Law with the Moral Law, which despite what Elaine says, are different, and treated so even in the OT as well as the NT.
      – The notion that the Moral Law is not 'obligatory' in the sense that it cannot save us, compared with the notion it is still 'useful' precisely because it points out that we need to be saved.
      – The notion that under the New Covenant we will start keeping some new law which is totally different from the Moral Law, where the law of written in our hearts is merely the positive pre-Fall naturally good aspect of the Moral Law.

      • laffal
        16 January 2013 @ 5:36 pm

        Stephen,

        Whether intended or not, you are supporting all of those who proclaim SDA's as legalists because of our historical emphasis on the 10 commandment law… binding / required / obligated / obedience…etc… Even Sis. White speaks to that in Testimonies to Ministers pg. 91.92, where she states that we preach the law and not Christ.

        The premise of Preston's piece is once again the emphasis of the terms that "bind us" to the law.  The implications are clear, if we fall / fail to keep the law perfectly, our relationship with Christ is altered, and we have to go thru the entire process of confessing, repenting, and believing to get peace.  Yet Hebrews 6:1-3 says that we need grow beyond this immature cyclical experience. 

        When will we finally get the fact that the Holy Spirit never leads into disobedience… the fruit of the Spirit produces fruit that is in harmony with the law.  Galatians 5:16.22-25 Romans 8:4

        We need to be careful not to commit spiritual fornication.  (Romans 7:1-6) How so?  We cannot serve God thru law keeping, and have a saving relationship with Christ at the same time… The law cannot forgive us, help us, or give us the righteousness that it requires, only Christ can.  But for this to take place death has to happen, because we are bound to the law as long as we are living.  And once we fail, the curse of the law rests upon us.  Galatians 3:10  So when do we die so Christ will be free, legally, to forgive us, help us, and give us the righteousness of the law?

        • For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised… For our sake he [God] made him [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15.21 ESV)

      • William Noel
        16 January 2013 @ 5:56 pm

        Stephen,

        In Galatians 3:23-25 (KJV) Paul makes a point that I think is relevant to this discussion.

        23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

        How long does a person remain in school?  Until graduation.  Does graduating mean we quit using what we learned?  Does 1 plus 1 equal 3 now that we have graduated?  No.  We don't quit using what we learned.  But if we learned our lessons well we are not constantly going back to the textbook to remind ourselves if 1 plus 1 still equals 2.  Instead we are building on what we learned in school by applying it in new ways not taught in school.  By this model our maturation into ministry under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in no way implies that we reject the law or that it has somehow become invalid.  Rather, it means we have allowed the law to complete the purpose for which it was given and we have graduated to higher levels of learning where our instruction is both personal and directly from God.

        Will we choose to remain in school long after we should have graduated?  Or, are we ready to experience the faith that God has been waiting to reveal to us?

  36. Preston Foster
    16 January 2013 @ 5:51 pm

    Stephen,

    To address other points of departure:

    You say, "That stance makes no sense because to be moral or 'righteous' means to be a 'law-keeper', because as sin is transgression of the Law so righteousness is adherence to the Law."

    I disagree.  Righteousness is attained by accepting Christ and His righteousness.  Period.  Our righteousness was achieved by Christ, on the Cross and through His resurrection.  By accepting His sacrifice by faith, we are declared righteous.  HIS righteousness will lead us into right doing and acceptance before The Father.  OUR righteousness is "filthy rags," which implies our law-keeping, in isolation, is STILL imperfect.

    You say, "'We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers…'

    Preston that's us."

    I disagree.  Those of us who have accepted Jesus have HIS righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).  It is those who have accepted RIGHTEOUSNESS BY FAITH whom Paul says "are not under (or I would say 'bound') by the law."  All of us have sinned.  But God declares those who belief on His Son as righteous, not because of their works, but because their sins were blotted out on the Cross.  The Word says:

    " Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

    You say, "And what Law is that written on our hearts – it is the Moral Law of course.  The Law itself doesn't change as much as our attitude to it, or rather our inclination towards it."

    I disagree.  The law changed, per Christ.  He said, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another," John 13:34.  Again, the word "LOVE" appears NOWHERE in the 10 Commandments.  

    Christ asks us to keep HIS Commandments John 14:15.  Under the New Covenant, we are to be led by the Spirit to produce the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, and the rest), not the fruit of "the ministry of death written and engraved in stone."  The ministry of the Spirit is "more glorious" than the ministry of death.  Again, the purpose of the 10 Commandments is to point out sin and to lead us to Christ.  After we arrive at that point, we are to go past the letter to living and giving love out of a pure heart, not binding obligation.  Christ said that his disciples would be identified not by their lawkeeping, but by their love (John 13:35).  Those who claim to be without sin are deluding themselves — and no one else (1 John 1:8).

    I agree, the 10 Commandments are useful — to bring us to an awareness of our need of the Savior.  But that is the beginning (old), not the end (new). It is, as I stated, it is words "binding on all people in every age" that is, in my view and in the context of FB 19, objectionable.  We live in the age, after the Cross, where Christ instructed us to be led, not by the law, but by the Spirit into ALL truth, John 16:13.

    The verses that I've quoted are not the antinomians verses, nor are they Elaine's (it is helpful, for the sake of clarity, to let everyone speak for themself), but the Word of God.  About the gospel of grace and freedom, Paul said, "I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin.  I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ." Galatians 1:11-12.
     

     

  37. Bill Garber
    16 January 2013 @ 11:48 pm

    Thanks for the stimulating commentary, Preston.

    Seventh-day Adventists historically side with Arminians not Antinomians.  We should have been Antonomians, perhaps.  

     
    Arminians make salvation conditional on personal perpetual adherence to faith in Jesus rather than at some level and for some time adherence to the law at a level of sufficiency to qualify for salvation.
     
    Accepting that salvation is apart from a person’s works of the law, Arminians make salvation conditional on the perpetual work of faith.   
     
    There is no ‘Once saved, always saved’ possibility with Arminianism.  For the most current articulation of Seventh-day Adventism’s embrace of Arminianism, see Woodrow W. Whidden II, ‘The Judgment and Assurance – Library of Adventist Theology’ Review and Herald, 2012.
     
    What I find disheartening and anything but assuring is Widden’s and Arminianism’s unremitting argument that we can spend a lifetime of faith and lose eternity in the final moments of our life.  
     
    What this brings to the Christian is the eternal sense that their salvation is dependent on each one personally at every step of our life from the moment we sense that opportunity until our last breath.
     
    Inescapably Arminians like Seventh-day Adventists believe our salvation is conditional on our engagement, our faith, our belief, over the course of our lifetime.
     
    Paul, of course, famously notes that we have been saved and that our salvation is ‘not of yourself, it is a gift of God.’
     
    If this makes you, Preston, an Antinomian, may we all be Antinomians.
     
    Those of us who join you are in pretty good company with a legendary Seventh-day Adventist.  
     
    “Let the subject be made distinct and plain that it is not possible to effect anything in our standing before God or in the gift of God to us through creature merit.  Should faith and works purchase the gift of salvation for anyone, then the Creator is under obligation to the creature. Here is an opportunity for falsehood to be accepted as truth. If any man can merit salvation by anything he may do, then he is in the same position as the Catholic to do penance for his sins.  Salvation, then, is partly of debt, that may be earned as wages. If man cannot, by any of his good works, merit salvation, then it must be wholly of grace, received by man as a sinner because he receives and believes in Jesus. It is wholly a free gift. Justification by faith is placed beyond controversy.  And all this controversy is ended, as soon as the matter is settled that the merits of fallen man in his good works can never procure eternal life for him.” –  Ellen G. White.  
     
    This is from a manuscript written in 1890, three years following the 1888 revolution at the General Conference Session regarding salvation apart from the law.  This manuscript (#36) was written at the time of the Ministerial Institutes held in Battle Creek that year.  It was published again in the Review and Herald in 1977 on February 24 and March 3.  And republished in the book Faith and Works in 1978.
     
    It is instructive that this statement rejects both faith and works as playing an enabling role of any kind in a person’s salvation.  This was no Freudian slip.  It is a statement made with every rhetorical effort to clarify the point. 
     
    Thank you Preston for extrapolating on this matter and for noting that FB #19 does, indeed, appear to be a kind of pickling solution to preserve the Law, and therefore the Sabbath, and in the end Seventh-day Adventism as God’s unique and final church of Revelation … though you will now realize that I am (wildly?) extrapolating on your commentary.
     
    Seventh-day Adventism does not need the law or YEC to validate the Sabbath.  Nor does it need to identify itself as the fulfillment of a statement in Revelation regarding spiritual differences of truly black and white meaning to be carrying the true gospel to the world.
     
    I like where you have brought us, Preston.
     

    • Tapiwa Mushaninga
      17 January 2013 @ 12:07 pm

      This is getting dangerously close to once saved always saved! Is a person only saved from the penalty of sin and not the power thereof! I always thought people were to be saved from both but it seems some want to make a provision for the flesh albeit intellectually. I believe this is a false gospel that gives false assurance of salvation to people. Romans 6 and 8 differ from this gospel. Grace is so powerful that it can give complete victory over sin anything short is a cheap counterfeit.

      The new covanent is also about writing the law in the heart! Many people actually forget this and think the law is not binding but I thought the law was even more uplifted because it is now in the heart and not two tables of stone. It is illogical to be a moral antinomian because as Stephen pointed out, morality is based on the same law that the antinomian believes is no longer neccesary. Antinomians do not believe in complete victory over sin (imparted and not just imputed) they believe in parrtial or little sanctification. So the only way they can get rid of sin is by removing or belittlling the law because where there is no law there is no sin

    • Stephen Ferguson
      17 January 2013 @ 1:32 pm

      "We should have been Antonomians, perhaps."

      I'm glad we aren't.  Calvinism is the trap of a puppet God.  

      Inescapably Arminians like Seventh-day Adventists believe our salvation is conditional on our engagement, our faith, our belief, over the course of our lifetime.  Paul, of course, famously notes that we have been saved and that our salvation is ‘not of yourself, it is a gift of God.’'

      The notion of a puppet God, or the notions of Total Depravity and Election as the Calvinists call it, are not something that paints a good picture of a loving God in my view!

  38. earl calahan
    16 January 2013 @ 11:56 pm

    Perhaps the difficulty between comprehension of the 10 Commandments and the New Covenant is because the 10 are stated in negative terms "thou shalt not", and the New Covenant is expressed in the positive sense "thou shall love". They are actually the very same, "THE MORAL LAW". Some may find it difficult to make the transition from negative to positive with the identical subject. All who believe that Jesus Christ paid our ransom, by shedding His Godly blood, to rescue us from the 2nd death, and is our Lord & Saviour, are not condemmed by the 10, and the 10 will stand eternally because they describe to us what is the perfect law of liberty of God. 

    • William Noel
      17 January 2013 @ 12:21 am

      The new covenant is only realized when a person is living in an intimate relationship with God.  This was what Jesus was talking about in John 14:15 when he told His disciples, "If you love me you will obey what I command." 

    • laffal
      17 January 2013 @ 12:35 am

      Earl,

      Under the New Covenant the "thou shalt not"s become very good news when you read them in the context of the preamble (Exodus 20:1.2), which states, And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage."  If we will continue to remember that we have been redeemed / reconcilled / delivered / made free from sin / death / Satan by Christ (who is the gospel), and walk in the Spirit, we simply will not do these things… in other words, we will love God supremely, and our fellow man unselfishly.  Galatians 5:16; Romans 8:4  

  39. earl calahan
    17 January 2013 @ 12:05 am

    Love your neighbor. We are all neighbors here. The tone of love expressed herein in the most recent exchanges by all here is most appreciated. Sometimes i've been troubled by the seeming lack of tolerance and love in some threads.

  40. Elaine Nelson
    17 January 2013 @ 3:23 am

    It takes a Philadelphia lawyer to explain all the SDA doctrines; and a listener to follow various trains of thought to trace the prophecies.  Any denomination that requires 28 statements to incorporate its creed is not only too verbose but too convoluted for a convert to comprehend; yet belief in all 28 describes the SDA Fundamental Beliefs.

    • Stephen Ferguson
      17 January 2013 @ 1:07 pm

      Elaine: It takes a Philadelphia lawyer to explain all the SDA doctrines…”
       
      Elaine,
       
      For once I 100% agree with you.  I remember hearing (about two years ago) a recent ex-GC President state publicly in a Q&A session that new converts can’t really be expected to understand all 28 of the FBs, as that would be beyond their expected comprehension.  But to me that seems completely dishonest, because the Baptismal Vow (where being a vow should be taken seriously), expects just that.  How can new converts swear before God that they adhere to 28 FBs they can’t possibly understand, and which you rightly say only Philadelphia lawyer could – and even then I doubt it!
       
      I have long argued that there are too many FBs and they are too prescriptive.  The current GC appears intent on making them even more prescriptive, not less, which if this discussion is anything to go by would be a big mistake.
       
      As to this particular discussion, I wonder if we do actually agree with each other substantially on more than we think?  I wonder if this is like the dispute between the RC and the Eastern Orthodox Catholic groups, who called each other heretics for over a thousand years over the doctrine of the Trinity, until just a few decades ago when they realised they were actually saying much the same thing.  The problem was they were using different languages, using different terminology and jargon, coming from different contexts and with a different emphasis.  Thus, it gave the impression that they were further apart on the issue than it seemed.
       
      Preston
       
      I wonder if Preston or someone else could possibly explain how FB#19 should be worded differently?  I think that would be insightful, as there is only so much we can glean from a criticism of the current FB without an idea of how perhaps you think it should be worded instead.
       
      I am certainly open to seriously listening to how FB#19 could be improved, if I could review a newly worded version.  I am still wondering (apologies if you have already answered it) if even deleting the word ‘binding’ and replacing it with something that says the Law (10 Commandments) is ‘relevant’, ‘useful’ would be something people could agree on. 

      • William Noel
        17 January 2013 @ 2:35 pm

        Perhaps we should ask if we even need the FB list at all.  The greatest use of them I have seen is promotion of debate. 

        • Stephen Ferguson
          17 January 2013 @ 10:36 pm

          I already addressed that issue.  However, assuming FB is to stay, it is still beneficial if Preston could expound how it should be amended.  It is far easier to criticise something than offer a workeable alternative.

      • Tapiwa Mushaninga
        17 January 2013 @ 4:54 pm

        Stephen

        Sometimes it is easy for us laymen to prescribe what the GC or our leadership should do some feel they are two restrictive in out FB I believe in a world with confusion and error we need them! Because essentially what stands for everything stands for nothing. many on this site were critical of GYC because it confused them and crushed their long held beliefs that all youth want lackadisical and "hip" worship but many Myself included want to follow God.

        The Million dollar question is do we tighten or loosen or leave as is? You believe tighten but I bellieve that people should apply themselves our FB are not as complicated as rocket science. when It comes to christianity suddnely people want to be spoonfed. If the bible were so simplw there would be no need for studying it would there?

  41. Stephen Foster
    17 January 2013 @ 8:21 am

    Perhaps the bottom line is that there is no law against the fruit(s) of the Spirit; as per Galatians 5:22, 23.
     
    A question may be: what produces the fruit of the Spirit in our lives?
     
    Another question may be: are the fruits of the Spirit the evidences of salvation?
     
    How do the answers to these questions relate to FB 19 and the law?

    • Stephen Ferguson
      17 January 2013 @ 1:08 pm

      ‘Preston: Perhaps the bottom line is that there is no law against the fruit(s) of the Spirit; as per Galatians 5:22, 23. A question may be: what produces the fruit of the Spirit in our lives? Another question may be: are the fruits of the Spirit the evidences of salvation? How do the answers to these questions relate to FB 19 and the law?’
       
      Good questions.  Can we take it a step back though?  How does one know they need salvation?  Doesn’t ‘AA’ teach that the first step is to recognise you have a problem?   Like an intervention, sometimes you need a close friend someone to tell you you have a problem, which doesn’t in itself fix the problem, but it is the first step in fixing the problem. 
       
      Likewise, I wonder if we are perhaps simply focusing on separate ends of the born-again process?  Do you agree that the Law (Decalogue) doesn’t save us, and there certainly is no law against the fruits of the Spirit, but it still has a job to do in the lives of human beings today in point out sin (Rom 7:7-12)?
       
      If we could at least agree that the Law (Decalogue) is ‘useful’ (which is probably a better word than ‘binding’) in that sense that would be a start.  
       
      Is the other problem with FB#19 is that although it is titled ‘Law of God’ it seems to suggest that only the Ten Commandments are the embodiment of God’s Moral Law.  Would it have been better if the FB had also explained that the Law doesn’t necessarily mean just the Ten Commandments, which are only a negative and externalised description of the Moral Law, but under the New Covenant more appropriately means the 2 Great Commandments of Love as a positive an internalised summary of the Decalogue?
       
      I do agree that FB only seems to refer to the negative and externalised description of the Decalogue, which is only the start leading to justification, and not the endpoint leading to sanctification, which is the positive and internalised 2 Great Commandments of Love.  To that extent, I can appreciate that the current FB as worded sounds as if it is promoting legalism to some, although that is not how I personally read it. You are probably also correct in your original article that the authors perhaps only used the negative and externalised description of the Decalogue for fear that this would allow the Sabbath to be undermined.
       

      I also wonder if sometimes we are arguing across purposes, when sometimes one of us is talking about the Law’s role and purpose in justification whilst others sanctification.  Assuming of course you do believe in both of those distinct concepts as phases in the born-again salvation process?  Again, do you at least think there is at least a role, or use or relevance for the Decalogue, not in saving us which it can’t do, but doing the opposite – in telling us we are retched and need a saviour? 

      • Stephen Foster
        17 January 2013 @ 5:06 pm

        Stephen Ferguson,
         
        As you have primarily been in discussion on this thread with my brother Preston, the author of this column; in fairness to him I would correct you in that the post/questions that you are currently responding were asked by me.
         
        I do tend to think that, to the extent that the words "binding upon" might be replaced with "relevant to," you two are in more agreement than it might appear; but that’s just my perspective.  

        • Stephen Ferguson
          17 January 2013 @ 9:41 pm

          Sorry Stephen – I mistook the Fosters 🙂  Are you two related?

          Anyway, I hope Preston and I are more in agreement than we realise, which is what I am trying to get to the bottom of.  As I have said repeatedly, I have been wondering if this is like one of those Trinitarian debates where different groups call each other heretics, even though they were actually saying much the same thing – but with different jargon and concepts, which gave the illusion of more disagreement than there really was.

  42. Tapiwa Mushaninga
    17 January 2013 @ 12:07 pm

    This is getting dangerously close to once saved always saved! Is a person only saved from the penalty of sin and not the power thereof! I always thought people were to be saved from both but it seems some want to make a provision for the flesh albeit intellectually. I believe this is a false gospel that gives false assurance of salvation to people. Romans 6 and 8 differ from this gospel. Grace is so powerful that it can give complete victory over sin anything short is a cheap counterfeit.

    The new covanent is also about writing the law in the heart! Many people actually forget this and think the law is not binding but I thought the law was even more uplifted because it is now in the heart and not two tables of stone. It is illogical to be a moral antinomian because as Stephen pointed out, morality is based on the same law that the antinomian believes is no longer neccesary. Antinomians do not believe in complete victory over sin (imparted and not just imputed) they believe in parrtial or little sanctification. So the only way they can get rid of sin is by removing or belittlling the law because where there is no law there is no sin

    • Stephen Ferguson
      17 January 2013 @ 1:27 pm

      Tapiwa I share some of your concerns.  I am stilling willing to give Preston the benefit of the doubt and see if we are actually agreeing more than we think but using different jargon or context to say similar things.  

      I am somewhat perplexed and frankly scared that that once saved always saved (perseverance of the saints), seems to be promoted here by some as well, given Adventism squarely fits as a whole theological system within Arminianism, rather than Calvinism.  I believe one person even tried to use Ellen White to support that!

      There also seems to be a worrying element of Christian Perfectionism or of the Holiness Movement (Holy-Flesh) here.  It is ironic because we normally mock conservatives for Last Generation Theology for this, but I think there is a strong element of that here, given it is particularly influenced by Pestecostal-Evangelicalism.  There is certainly an ironic junction between New Covenant Theology (which is what Preston seems to be advocating) and Christian Perfectionism, given both movements stem from  Pestecostal-Evangelicalism.  

      I know people will strongly object, but some of these intersecting concepts, linking Calvinistic perseverance of the saints with Holiness, seems to breed a dangerous air of hubris.  Of course my detractors will simply say that is the confidence that comes with knowledge that one is saved, but there is a difference between admitting one is a scoundrel who is undeservably justified by Jesus sacrifice, and admitting that God will santicify them over a lifetime, compared with sentiments that suggest they are as of right now creatures living by the Spirit. 

      To that extent, I wonder if those who are primarily concerned about legalism somewhat come full circle with their beliefs?

      But again, I could be wrong.  As I said, a think a lot of this is more about emphasis, or point of view.  I am not so pedantically dogmatic.  My major point is that those who object to FB#19 do so on the basis of pedantic dogmatism.  

      • William Noel
        17 January 2013 @ 2:33 pm

        Stephen,

        Something that has been very beneficial to my spiritual growth has been ceasing to make comparisons to Calvanism or whatever other historic theological "isms" there are.  They were preventing me from growing spiritually because they were the substance of debate but not the fertilizer of growth.  It has been far more beneficial for me to just focus on my relationship with God and allowing the Holy Spirit to nurture me.

        • Tapiwa Mushaninga
          17 January 2013 @ 3:54 pm

          William

          I agree that the ministration of the Holy Spirit is important but to be grounded in sound doctrine is also important. You made a character assement of myself when you said I did not have the Holy Spirit and that I needed him but no matter all is forgiven. Having the holy spirit is not a substitute fot bible study or for searching the scriptures. The bible makes it clear one of the ways in which we enhance our relationship is to study his word. In these last days there are many deceptions so we have to be armed and there will  also be counterfeit Holy Spirits which will come. The Holy spirit (the true one) will lead you into all truth and not be confuse and bring into remebrance all that you have read. Too much study and no prayer makes one a pharisee and too mush prayer and little study makes one a mystique.

          • William Noel
            17 January 2013 @ 4:12 pm

            Tapiwa,

            For even giving you the impression that I was being judgemental, I thank you for your forgiveness.  My desire is that people learn to know the Holy Spirit as I have and to experience the learning and empowerment in ministry that I have been enjoying.

            I completely agree with you that having the Holy Spirit is no substitute for studying the scriptures.  The problem I am seeing at every turn is fear that following the Holy Spirit will automatically lead us into the deceptions and distortions we see in the charismatic movement.  Satan would not be creating and spreading those deceptions if the truth and power of the Holy Spirit were not what God wanted us to discover.  Can we afford to let those deceptions prevent us from discovering the Holy Spirit and growing in the advanced guidance and empowerment that He brings? 

          • Stephen Ferguson
            17 January 2013 @ 10:34 pm

            More false dicthonomies between Holy Spirit vs Scriptures.

  43. Tapiwa Mushaninga
    17 January 2013 @ 12:41 pm

    Almost forgot what many are calling righteousness by faith is nothing more than presumption in unrighteousness. The ultimate legalism is to believe that there is a change in the books of heaven without a corresponding change in the heart
     Read Heb 6:6 and Gal 2:17

  44. Preston Foster
    17 January 2013 @ 4:08 pm

    Tapiwa,

    In my view, more dangerous than presumption of righteousness is ASSUMPTION of self-righteousness.  That is, believing that your salvation is a function of what you do, rather than believing in Christ, in the grace that is available to us, and that your good works are a RESULT of your salvation.

    What is difficult for some to process is the fact that sinners confidently accept their the gift of salvation — while they are sinners.  And this is what God intended.  Accepting this gift is what causes one to LOVE God and do His will. The change in heart is a result of Christ's work for us on the cross.

    "For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law.  For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God."   For Moses writes that the law’s way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands. But faith’s way of getting right with God says, “Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will go up to heaven?’ (to bring Christ down to earth). 7 And don’t say, ‘Who will go down to the place of the dead?’ (to bring Christ back to life again).” In fact, it says,
     
    “The message is very close at hand;
        it is on your lips and in your heart.”[d]
    And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:3-10, NLT.
     
     

  45. Tapiwa Mushaninga
    17 January 2013 @ 4:36 pm

    Preston

    Firstly it is presumption in UNrighteousness and I feel many equate obeideince with legalism. Here is where I think we disagree

    1. You believe that salvation is what Christ did for us I believe it is both what he did for us and what he does in us.

    2. You see sanctification as a fruit of salvation whereas I see it as a cause of salvation along with justification.

    3. You believe that justification precludes the new birth and I believe they happen simutaneously.

    4. You believe that Justification is to be declared righteous whereas I believe it is both to be made and declared righteous.

    5. You believe sin is an inevitability in the life of a christian I believe all sin can ans should be conquered by His grace and through the Holy spirit.

    6. You believe the atonement finished at the crosss I believe atonement will finish in the heavenly sanctuary.

    7. You feel I am headed towards legalism and I feel you are headed towards Christianised disobedience or antinomianism.

    Would you say say this is a fair assessment of our positions?

  46. laffal
    17 January 2013 @ 5:21 pm

    Tapiwa,

    So are we to understand that what you believe does not contradict what Christ Himself said:

    •  I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. (John 17:4 KJV)
    • When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (John 19:30 KJV)

    How about Paul:

    • Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:5-9 KJV)
    • Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV)
    • Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: (2 Timothy 1:8-10 KJV)
    • For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
      (1 Timothy 4:10 KJV)

    And there are more…

  47. Preston Foster
    17 January 2013 @ 7:29 pm

    Tapiwa,

    Not quite (in terms of assessing my position).

    1.  I do believe that salvation is what Christ does for us.  I also believe that it is Christ who, through faith, does the work of sanctification in us. Hebrews 2:11; Hebrews 10:10; Ephesians 2:8

    2. Agreed.  You have assessed my position accurately.  In addition, I believe the cause of salvation is faith in Jesus Christ, His blood sacrifice, and His resurrection. Romans 3:28.

    3.  I believe that justification occurs when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior ("Solus Christus"). Romans 10:4-5; Romans 10:10.

    5.  I believe that we are all sinners and that our righteousness (our efforts to live perfectly) are filthy rags.  I believe that our righteousness in Christ and, in Him, we are made new.  I believe Christ can change our hearts.  I know of no one, but Christ — who never sinned, who has stopped sinning completely and permanently (at least in thought).  I believe that is why grace exists. I also believe that those who believe they have achieved perfection are discounting their need of the Blood of Christ. 1 John 1:8; Romans 7:14-25; Philipians 3:9;1 Corinthians 1:30; Isaiah 64:6; 2 Corinthians 5:17-18.

    6.  I personally believe that everything necessary for our salvation was completed at the Cross. John 19:30; Hebrews 10:10; Hebrews 1:3; Romans 10:4. Hebrews 9:11-15; Hebrews 9:24-28; Hebrews 10:10-14. 

    8.  I believe I am a sinner and judge no one.  I believe the Holy Spirit will reveal the truth to all that seek it.  Matthew 7:1; John 16:13; 2 Corinthians 3: 15-17.

    Peace.

    • Stephen Ferguson
      17 January 2013 @ 10:58 pm

      I am particularly interested in your responses to #5 and #8.  

      To start with #8 first, do you or do you not agree that the Decalogue has a role to play, even if only to point out sin per Rom 7:7-12?  If instead you say no, the Holy Spirit, isn't that a false dichtonomy per Rom 2:12-17?

      As to #5, isn't the NT Law of Love on our hearts the endpoint of sanctification, where it makes clear in Jer 31:33,34 one no longer needs teaching because our evil natural inclinations will return to their pre-Fall states, and given you at least seem to acknowledge you are not in fact perfect and thus at times still need to ask for forgiveness, won't then the OT Decalogue still have some role in pointing our your sin to you?  If you say no, aren't you promoting a form of Christian Perfectionism?

      • Preston Foster
        17 January 2013 @ 11:55 pm

        Stephen, 

        I believe I have addressed this earlier, but I am happy repeat what I've said:

        I agree, the 10 Commandments are useful — to bring us to an awareness of our need of the Savior.  But that is the beginning (old), not the end (new). It is, as I stated, it is words "binding on all people in every age" that is, in my view and in the context of FB 19, objectionable.  We live in the age, after the Cross, where Christ instructed us to be led, not by the law, but by the Spirit into ALL truth, John 16:13.

        I not only "acknowledge" that I am not perfect, I have and do confess that I am a sinner (in my view, you have cooked up this perfection theme in a kitchen where Calvin and you are the only cooks).  The 10 Commandments pointed me to Christ.  Past that, I follow the admonitions of Galatians 3:23-25, Galatians 3:10-14; Galatians 5:1-2; John 5:45.

        I do concur that that sanctification means having the Law of Love written on our hearts.  I believe it is the work of Christ is us.

  48. Preston Foster
    17 January 2013 @ 8:55 pm

    Corrections:

    – Re: #5, above, the third reference should be Philippians 3:9.

    What is listed as item "8" should, of course, be "#7."

  49. Preston Foster
    17 January 2013 @ 9:07 pm

    Tapiwa,

    What is particularly notable is your observation that I am headed toward "Christianized disobedience or antinomialism."  Labels serve to catagorize people and generalize their positions.   Labels tend to obsure rather than to clarify.

    Since I have, throughout this strand, advocated being led by the Holy Spirit rather than the law, and fortified by position by numerous and specific scriptures, what is it, exactly, that leads you to belief I seek other than God's way?

    • Stephen Ferguson
      17 January 2013 @ 10:32 pm

      Isn't this whol discussion, started by you, one of labels?  Just asking.  

      I think you are offering a false dichtonomy and may in fact be trading a fear of legalism (where I 100% support you) for perfectionism (where I worry). 

  50. earl calahan
    17 January 2013 @ 9:30 pm

    RE: laffal & Preston (just above). i am convinced your understanding is the only way to accept the grace & mercy of God's plan of salvation. It is a free gift of our Creator God. Our right living is as filthy rags. We have no Earthly recommendations. Its impossible for us to earn heaven. We have no righteousness. Our hearts are evil continually. Paul, the basis of most all views shared here, stated in 1st Tim. 1:15, "this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Chrirt Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom Iam chief". Paul, who WORKED harder than the others combined, said he was the chief of sinners. No brownie points earned here. No perfection earned here. As Preston stated, " if only in thought". We who seek Christ to live within us, consider it a delight to study His life, as the Holy Spirit moves us. Don't even think you must assist Jesus in securing your salvation. He has completed your rescue. Accept it by faith. Praise God for the free gift of everlasting life. It is available to every soul the moment it it is believed and accepted. Praise God. 

    • Preston Foster
      18 January 2013 @ 2:18 am

      Praise the Lord!  Thank you, Earl.

  51. William Noel
    17 January 2013 @ 9:43 pm

    If God makes our salvation so simple that a just-formerly demon-possessed demoniac can understand it, why do professed believers spend so much time dissecting it instead of experiencing it?  What is so difficult or complicated about letting God lead us and growing in His love under the guidance of the Holy Spirit?  Is it because we're more concerned about having correct theology than letting Him work in us?  It would be such a joy here to read celebrations about experiences with God instead of all this dissection of views and debate.   

    • Stephen Ferguson
      17 January 2013 @ 10:30 pm

      Not sure, but isn't this whole discussion about an objection-dissection to the word 'binding'?  I seriously think this argument is more about semantics than substance.  The thing is, salvation is both so simple than a child can understand it (and actually probably does understand it better than us per Jesus' teaching).  However, at the same time, it is so complex or difficult for the sinful, human mind to understand that there really is no point beat each other up too much over concepts we can't really understand.

      • William Noel
        18 January 2013 @ 1:44 pm

        Stephen,

        Complexity comes when we dissect, attach labels and insist on arguing over what we may think matters, but is of no positive consequence.  Clarity comes when we are focused on Christ and letting the Holy Spirit work in us. 

    • earl calahan
      17 January 2013 @ 11:59 pm

      William, i can wholeheartedly agree with you on some threads, however, this subject here is with regard to where each of us will spend the eternal future, it is the QUINTESSENTIAL decision of our lives. The
      blog on guns is now up to 241 responses of regurgitation.

      • William Noel
        18 January 2013 @ 1:51 pm

        Earl,

        I hear where you're coming from.  (By the way, I'm out of that other discussion.)  Since our eternal future depends entirely on WHO we know and theological arguments consume time and energy that could be directed into building our relationship with God, where do you think we should be focusing our attention? 

  52. Stephen Ferguson
    17 January 2013 @ 10:12 pm

    Preston:  "In my view, more dangerous than presumption of righteousness is ASSUMPTION of self-righteousness.  That is, believing that your salvation is a function of what you do, rather than believing in Christ, in the grace that is available to us, and that your good works are a RESULT of your salvation."

    Totally agree.  But don't save of your comment above, and those who support you (citing Calvinistic Election and Perseverance of the Saints) do just that in make an assumption of righteousness.

    Whilst the Law cannot save it is 'useful' in pointing out to us our fallen state and need of a saviour.  From there, when we accept Christ, we are legally considered righteous before God through justification.  However, that doesn't make us practically sinless yet, as whilst the Spirit starts to implant the Law of Love in our hearts, that process of Sanctification takes a lifetime.

    I would say I need to die daily, and that the Decalogue remains useful for me because I can honestly admit that I am not at a stage of my life where God so perfectly dwells in me that I naturally do what is right without need of instruction per the hope of the Jer 31:33.  I believe I am no different from any other human being, and that justification and sanctification is no different any side of the Cross (although in the OT they used antitypes to understand a hope not yet made manifest).  

    Yet the OT and NT experience is not merely two dispensations in time but the born-again experience in everyone's heart – even today.  Whilst God espoused the Decalogue (being the negative and external aspect of the Moral Law, being His character) in Deut 5, He espoused the Love Principle (being the  positive and internalised aspect of the Moral Law) in the very next chapter in Deut 6:5.  In that way, the NT is a renewing of the covenant in the OT, replacing a negative and external obedience out of fear, which doesn't work, with a positive and internal obedience in the NT. 'Obedience' sounds harsh (and again I think we largely argue emphasis and semantics), but the Bible does say in Revelation that the saints keep the commandments of God.

    My main issue, apart from semantic arguments is this:

    The big problem I have is you seem to be suggesting that you no longer need the Decalogue, because the NT experience is so complete in you, that the Law of Love now so completely lives in your heart, that the sanctification process is complete.  You obviously don't need the Decalogue to point out your sin anymore or take heed of its goodness and profit for teaching, and nor do you seem to need to listen to Counsel from the Council at Jerusalem, from Paul or anyone who later tells believers (and note not unbaptised converts) to abstein from immorality and sin (which means to transgress the Law), because you are now beyond teaching, as prophesied in Jer 31:33.

    In other words, you seem to be suggesting you are now perfect!  Not just legally perfect in God's eyes, but actuall perfect in practice.

    Thus, whereas I see a born-again OT-NT experience, which is in many ways a continual experience throughout our lives (much as footwashing is, although baptism is the first and great born-again experience), you seem to be suggesting that you have gone through it and that is that.  You seem to be suggesting that you are now not just legally counted as perfect (by being covered by Christs blood through justification) but are perfect (through sanctification).  

    To me, your approach is the logical extreme conclusion of Calvinistic doctrines of Election and Perseverance of the Saints.  Thus, it seems that in your fear of legalism you have in effect practically embrace perfectionism instead.

  53. Stephen Ferguson
    17 January 2013 @ 10:25 pm

    I am sure many will strongly disagree but the other thing I get out of this article is a sense of the influences and direction of a fair portion within liberal-progressive Adventism – and it doesn’t wholly please me. 
     
    Liberal Adventists (and I would probably broadly include myself, although ‘moderate’ might be a better term for me) have long worried about the more cultic aspects of our faith – or at least the more cultic applications of that faith.  But it seems the many liberal Adventists don’t seek acceptance by mainstream Christianity but rather are attracted to the latest American Pentecostal-Evangelical theory. 
     
    To that end, liberal Adventists would seem to be asking we trade one set of cultic beliefs or applications for another set of cultic beliefs or applications.  The promotion of Election, Perseverance of the Saints, Antinomianism (or at least New Covenant Theology), and the Holiness Movement (Holy Flesh – Christian Perfectionism) concepts are indeed very cultic to mainstream European Christianity, where I pointed out in my very first comment appear opposed to their historic creeds, seem to be proof of that. 
     
    Other proofs (not related to this article) include the popularity of Neil T Andersen of Fuller’s Deliverance Ministries (aka Strategic Spirit Warfare) amongst Adventism today, include liberal Adventists, who seem suckered by this crazy series of Shamanist beliefs. I wonder how much American Pentecostal-Evangelicalism generally and say Fuller Theological Seminary specifically (which many SDA PhDs and so attend) is influencing liberal Adventist beliefs? 
     
    I know it all seems fine to you Americans, given the buddle you seem to live in, but to me it seems that many of you are asking us to trade one set of more cultic beliefs and practices for some even more cultic and fundamentalist practices.  I would be very interested to see how other non-American liberal-progressive Adventists take all this – especially say some Europeans? 

    • Preston Foster
      18 January 2013 @ 3:27 am

      Stephen,
       
      More labels?  Whew!
       
      I consider myself to be a very conservative 7th Day Adventist. In this article and strand, I have only referenced the Bible as the basis of my positions and arguements.  

      You have taken these off-ramps to Calvinistic doctrine and Election, and more, then ascribed them directly or indirectly to me.  

       
      I welcome disagreement as a way of finding truth.  But, please, don't invent a world that you wish to argue against, then throw me in it.
       
      Let's deal directly with what has been presented instead of creating objectionable diversions.
       
      Thanks.

  54. Stephen Ferguson
    17 January 2013 @ 10:42 pm

    Preston: "8.  I believe I am a sinner and judge no one.  I believe the Holy Spirit will reveal the truth to all that seek it."

    Sorry one last comment.  Preston, how do you know you are a sinner and in need of salvation through grace?  

    Do you agree, yes or no, that the Decalogue ever had a role in pointing out sin per Rom 7:7-12?

    Do you agree, that the Decalogue has a continued role in pointing out sin?

    Can we agree that the Decalogue at least has some role for the Christian, if only to condemn them and point out their need for a saviour?

    I feel I never really ever got an answer to that most basic question (and apologies if you have otherwise answered it). We seem to be skipping around the wider issues without even seeing if we can agree on that starting point at least.

    • Preston Foster
      18 January 2013 @ 12:31 am

      Yes, Brother Stephen, Yes!  The 10 Commandments exist to point out sin.  And the wages of sin is death.  That is why they are, appropriately referred to as the "ministry of death, written and engraved in stone," 2 Corinthians 3:7-8.

      Past that, I forward-leaning role of the law is spelled-out in Scripture:

       "Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one.
       
      Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.  But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
       
      Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed.  So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
       
      So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise." Galatians 3:19-29.
       

    • William Noel
      18 January 2013 @ 1:55 pm

      Stephen,

      I can think of few people I know whom God has converted who got their sense of sin from reading the Ten Commadments.  For the great majority it has been a total realization of conviction brought by the Holy Spirit.  One of those people is not a Sabbath-keeper yet has brought more non-believers to Christ than many evangelists have stolen members from other churches. 

  55. Preston Foster
    17 January 2013 @ 11:22 pm

    Sephen,

    I want to say this respectfully, but, for the life of me, I don't see how I, the so-called antinomian, have suggested the we, in the New Covenant, are perfect!

    I believe I have been the one saying our righteousness is filthy rags and that I don't know of anyone who has stopped sinning, completely or permanently.  I have been chastised for not believing we can, in our mortal shell, be perfect.

    Also, I have repeatly said that, in the New Covenant, we are to be led by the the Spirit, which is more glorious and lasting than the law.  If we are perfect, why would be need to be led by anything or anyone?  Further, if we are perfect, why would I, at great length, promote the gospel of grace?  If we are perfect, we would have no need of grace — or Christ.

    As I have said, the only perfection we have is IN Christ.  He is our righteousness — and that is more than sufficient.  His Blood is an overpayment for our sins.  It is that payment that SATISFIES THE LAW and reconciles us the Father.  That is the basis of our repentence, love, gratitude, and good works.  And, more to the point, it is why we are, in Him, unbound by the law.

    Again, unbound by the law does not mean lawless.  It means that we to be led not by the law, but by the Spirit.  It should be noted that the Spirit (part of the Godhead) is SUPERIOR to the law.  God is omniscient.  This is, if we allow ourselves to know it, far superior than being led by a set of laws that do not explicitly speak of love.

    The Bible speaks of sanctification in the past and present tense (Hebrews 2:11; Hebrews 10:10).  It is not our work.  It is His.  Our work is to believe and submit to His will (John 6:29).

    You seem to have a need to label what I have been promoting.  I purposefully know nothing of Calvinistic doctrines or any other doctrines.  I only know Adventism.  I am now framing my spiritual life by sola scriptura (the Bible and the Bible alone).  Through the Holy Spirit, I am seeking to know God for myself and, very consciously, trying NOT to fit Him into any pre-conceived framework.

    It is amazing how clear His Word is when you do so.

    • William Noel
      18 January 2013 @ 1:57 pm

      Preston,

      Amen! Right on!  Let God reveal Himself to you directly and personally.

  56. earl calahan
    18 January 2013 @ 1:32 am

    Stephen, the 10 Commandants express, in a negative sense, the perfect character of God, His perfect LOVE. Expressed in the positive they are "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy might, and love thy neighbor as thy self. In the negative sense they point out sin. In the positive they express that acknowledgement of God's LOVE, loyalty to God, and acceptance of God's grace, through faith, avails one of everlasting life. God's plan of salvation is a plain straight forward act that one need not be a scholar to understand it. Some, however find it a puzzle, that it could be so easy to understand, that they research it to the nth degree, never reaching the prize. 
    No living person on Earth is perfect. We, even after accepting God's grace, have hearts that are evil, whether in act or thought we are unable to escape sin, that is why God gave His life for us because we couldn't break the bond of sin. God shed His blood for each sinner, paying the demand price for sin, death. So we are accepted as though we never sinned. The Holy Spirit woos us, and leads each of us to oneness with God. We will not be perfect until resurrected as a incorrupted spirit.

  57. Stephen Ferguson
    18 January 2013 @ 10:31 am

    "Yes, Brother Stephen, Yes!  The 10 Commandments exist to point out sin.  And the wages of sin is death.  That is why they are, appropriately referred to as the "ministry of death, written and engraved in stone," 2 Corinthians 3:7-8."

    Great brother, finally I think we are getting somewhere, and as I wondered, I believe we are not so far apart on this after all!  

    I blame myself for perhaps misunderstanding this, although I wonder if you too could have been clearer on that element at least, because to me it appeared you were saying the 10 Commandment had no relevance or purpose whatsoever, not even to lead one to conversion.  This is why people, not just me, wondered if you were advocating Antionomianism.  

    As for labels, apologies for that, but I was trying to actually work out what you were actually saying for real.  Labels may not be ideal, but they are the very basis of science and social science, as God told Adam when we labelled all the animals.  

    "Past that…"

    Indeed past that!  Part of the confusion is that you are obvioulsy focusing on the post-conversion experience; whereas, I was trying to understand if you at least believed the Law had a purpose and role in the pre-conversion experience, which it seems you actually do.  I think the FB does too to some extent.

    However, I do agree with you then, as to your concerns about the FB naming the 10 Commandments as 'binding' (being the external negative aspect of the Law), and failing to mention at all the 2 Great Commandments of Love (being the internal positive aspect of the Law).  I can certainly can agree that the current FB perhaps implies that the post-conversion experience is about law-keeping as something humans must strive to do, which is impossible, rather than something the Spirit does through us.  

    "…I forward-leaning role of the law is spelled-out in Scripture"

    That is the thing – you are focusing in your article on the post-conversion experience, and you perhaps jumped ahead without any mention of the pre-conversion experience, which does have a role for the written law.  Is that right?  But equally, the FB is perhaps confusing and wrong in that it isn't forward-leaning in its description, perhaps wrongly implying the post-conversion experience involved not the Decalogue (being the negative externalised aspect of the Law) but the 2 Great Commandments of Love (being the positive internalised aspect of the Law).  

    Are we talking past each other?

    I am sure words will remain clumsy either way, which is to be expected, given Christians have forcefully debated this issue for thousands of years.  Wars have been fought over this.  However, as I have said previously, we need to be mindful of those Tritarian-like debates where different parties called each other herectics, even where they actually largely agreed, but had confused each other with different jargon, language, philosophy and context. 

    Unless you still think we are substantially disagreeing?

    Summary

    So we seem to agree that the Decalogue has a role in the pre-conversion experience of justification, in pointing out sin.  The post-conversion 2 Great Commandments have a role in the post-conversion experience of sanctification, where the Holy Spirit works through us to produce fruits of the spirit.  You might use a slightly different formular but that is the very basics of it as I see it – do you agree?  Feel free to correct me.

    Does the backward-looking Decalogue still have an ongoing role for the Christian?

    So coming to the end of it all.

    Despite the above, do you think there is still a role for the Decalogue for the post-converted baptised Christian.  Do you still think the Decalogue, as opposed to the 2 Great Commandments, has any ongoing role in pointing out sin to us in its ministry of death? This is not a rhetorical question but a genuine one that I would appreciate your view?

    • William Noel
      18 January 2013 @ 2:02 pm

      Stephen,

      I spent a lot of years parsing phrases and dissecting meanings in theological debates.  But that all changed when I let the Holy Spirit take over.  One of the first things He taught me was that those things are an unprofitable waste of time when we have ever-present with us the opportunity to learn directly from God.  We can wrestle with human descriptions and debates.  Or, we can learn directly from the source.  It is your choice to make.

  58. Stephen Ferguson
    18 January 2013 @ 10:35 am

    Re-written FB#19

    And as I said before, I would really love to see what you think could perhaps be an improved re-worded FB#19!  Perhaps as a separate article if you are too tired now or perhaps run out of ideas.  Just a thought…

    • Preston Foster
      18 January 2013 @ 1:55 pm

      Stephen,

      Thanks for your patience with me on this journey.

      My assumption in the article and this strand is that the FBs are those of converted SDAs.  As such, it seems incorrect to claim that, in this case, the Old Covenant law applies to those who have (likely with the help of the 10 Commandments) come to Christ, submitted to His will, and repented (changed their minds) of their sinful pasts.  So the claim that the Old Covenant law is "binding on all people in every age" would be misapplied to that same set of people, per Galatians 3:19-29.

      For me, after conversion, dependence on the law stunts spiritual growth as it tends to encourage guilt, self-righteousness, frustation, self-dependence, and unrest. It is, in my opinion, precisely why so many of us are unfamiliar with the Holy Spirit.  When we hold on to the law as our guide, we cannot embrace the Holy Spirit with confidence as our New Covenant guide.  We must be led by one guide, not two.  

      As the Spirit is more glorious than the ministry of death written and engraved in stone (as the Spirit gives gives life), if we hold on to the law, past conversion, we miss the blessings that attend the Spirit's lead.  We often forget: The Holy Spirit IS GOD — and always leads us to Jesus and His righteousness.

      I hesistate to re-write the FB, as, I'm sure, it would engender charges or presumption from those who rely on the GC as the appropriate source of denominational guidance.  

      I would simply suggest that if an amendment is considered, that it consider the role of the law and the role of the Spirit on the continuum of both conversion and the Old and New Covenants.

      To be totally candid, my hidden agenda is to PROTECT the spiritual and theologic viability of the 7th Day Sabbath in the context of those who understand the biblical freedoms of the New Covenant.  If the Sabbath is protected ONLY by the law (e.g., the consecutive nature of FB 19 — the Law, and FB 20 — the Sabbath), the freedoms of the New Covenant could be misapplied to undercut the viability of the Creator's Sabbath.

      I tell you, I am a very conservative, sola scriptura SDA!  That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. 🙂 

      • Stephen Ferguson
        18 January 2013 @ 2:16 pm

        "My assumption in the article and this strand is that the FBs are those of converted SDAs."

        Ok thanks, that explains a lot then.  I didn't automatically read the FB with that assumption, but perhaps that in itself is a problem with the FB?

  59. Tapiwa Mushaninga
    18 January 2013 @ 10:50 am

    Stephen  and Preston

    While on many levels this is a semantical debate I feel that Preston and myself subscribe to different gospels. Firstly I believe in all the texts that Preston has put forward but I believe He has misapplied some of them. For example I believe the sacrifice and the earthly ministry were completed on the cross. Many say all was finished at the cross why was the ressurection important if all was finished at the cross?

    Romans 6 and Romans 8 put the much needed balance to Preston"s assertions. Preston believes sanctificaation is a fruit of salvation to which I totally disagree. Justification and Sanctification refer to what God does and that can never be a fruit of anything. They are both gifts that happen simulteneously, the only difference is that justification is instantaneous and sanctification is the work of a lifetime but they are all God"s gift to a helpless sinner, because the gospel is about saving from the penalty and the power of sin.

    Earl said were are unable to escape sin and I disagree wholeheartedly with every fibre of my being! Earl you should read, Matt 5:48   Jude 24   1Cor 10:13 and there are many more. How can sin be inevitable to those who are dead to sin as per Romans 6? Rev 14:12 is just ceremonial? not it is a promise that they are going to be in love with Jesus so much they would rather die than sin against God

    The bottom line of these two gospels is according to shakespear ( but changed to siut context) "To sin or not to sin that is the question"

  60. Preston Foster
    18 January 2013 @ 2:31 pm

    Tapiwa,

    We likely do embrace different gospels.

    I embrace the freedoms in Jesus and the sonship of faith that gives me confidence is what Christ accomplished for us.  I rest in Christ and walk in His righteousness, fully confident that I have none — and that His is sufficient for me (2 Corinthians 12:9).

    You are correct in saying that all was not finished on the Cross.  It is His death AND resurrection that frees us from sin and makes our salvation immediately available to us (1 Corinthians 15:17).

    I believe that we have NO righteousness, whatsoever (Romans 3:10).  The only righteousness available is God's thru faith in His Son.  That is why Christ said that the work that God requires is to believe in the Son He sent (John 6:29).

    The question is not to sin or not.  That ship has sailed (Romans 3:23).  The question is, have we accepted, thru faith, the payment for that sin:

    "For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law.  For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God.  For Moses writes that the law’s way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands. But faith’s way of getting right with God says, “Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will go up to heaven?’ (to bring Christ down to earth).  And don’t say, ‘Who will go down to the place of the dead?’ (to bring Christ back to life again).”  In fact, it says,
     
    “The message is very close at hand;
        it is on your lips and in your heart.”
    And that message is the very message about faith that we preach:  If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved," Romans 10:3-9 NLT.

    This is the gospel that I celebrate:

    "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ," John 1:17.

  61. Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
    18 January 2013 @ 9:31 pm

    Elaine Nelson said a few days ago – “The only command God gave Adam and Eve was to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.”
     

    Mrs Nelson may have perhaps missed that God did also command Adam and Eve ‘not to eat of the fruit’ Gen 2:16-17.  God's command was a test of Obedience.  Mankind, even after the Fall, seems to suffer from a chronic Obedience allergy which only Christ can remedy by faith; and let's not forget ever, that Christ was perfectly Obedient in every respect.  Eccl 12:13 – the whole duty of man is to fear God and keep His commandments…

  62. Joe Erwin
    19 January 2013 @ 2:03 am

    The fundamental premise of Christianity is freedom from condemnation and bondage. It is,
    and has to be, a simple message. 

  63. Stephen Foster
    19 January 2013 @ 1:14 pm

    I have asked (most of) these questions previously; but Stephen Ferguson—while commenting that they were “good questions”—deferred answering. Please allow me to ask them once more. These are all open questions, for anyone.
     
    Perhaps the bottom line is that there is no law against the fruit(s) of the Spirit; as per Galatians 5:22, 23.
     
    The question then becomes: what produces the fruit of the Spirit in our lives?
     
    Another question then is: are the fruits of the Spirit the evidences of salvation?
     
    Might the answers be Galatians 5:24, 25?
     
    How do the answers to these questions relate to FB 19 and the law?
     
    (There are two Stephen F.’s and two Fosters; so this tends to become confusing. I am Preston’s brother and not Ferguson.)

    • Stephen Ferguson
      20 January 2013 @ 1:18 am

      Yes; Holy Spirit putting the Moral Law in our hearts per the New Covenant experience; yes; yes.

      The FB#19 is incomplete and confusing.  It various statements are confusing and only seem to address the pre-conversion experience, of only the negative-external aspect of the Moral Law, which is useful in condemning us and telling us we are in need of salvation, but does not save.  The FB#19 seems to contain no references, or is ambiguous, as to the post-conversion experience, of the Holy Spirit imparting the positive-internal aspects of the Moral Law in our hearts.  

      I was reading the Ellen White compilation 'Faith and Work's last night.  She seemed to be quite concerned about legalism on the one hand, telling others to listen to Wagner and Jones.  But then she wrote to  Jones and complained that he was equally confusing people by suggesting no works or conditions were required, even though she understood he didn't really mean that.

      She makes an interesting statement that it is a fallacy that in grace God doesn't require us to do anything or that there are no conditions.  She points out He does – to love the Lord and one's neighbour with all one's heart is 'doing' something and a 'condition' of sorts.  The Decalogue is limited because it can only tell us what not to do (per my illustration below re the Sabbath); whereas, it is onlly the 2 Great Commandments of Love, written in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, that can inform us of what to do.  The Decalogue can tell us we have broken relationships, with God and each other,  but it is only Love that can repair them.

      I think it is arguable that the FB#19 kind of says these things, but perhaps if Ellen White were alive today she would write a Jones-like letter complaining that it was ambiguous and confusing.

    • Preston Foster
      20 January 2013 @ 4:00 pm

      @ Stephen Foster,

      This question gets to the core of my concern regarding the present wording of FB 19 as it relates to converted believers (in contrast to applying to "all people in all ages").  

      It is God's intent, I believe, that under the New Covenant, we (converted believers) be led by the Holy Spirit.  Being led by the Spirit will, very simply, produce the fruits of the Spirit.  Perhaps, we are so habitually led by law that we miss the path paved by the Spirit, which produces its fruit.

      Indeed, Galatians 5:24,25 outlines the power of being in Christ.  Crucifying the flesh means much more than avoiding sexual temptations.  It also speaks to ceasing to overcome sin (the noun) by self-effort alone.  Again, it is Christ who sanctifies us (Acts 26:18) and in Christ that we are made holy. 

      There are, in my view, two dangers by being led by the law: 1) seeking to overcome the law on our own has been proven to be futile (Romans 3:23).  Seeking to disprove this fact causes us to focus on what we do (self-effort) or compare ourselves to others (self-righteousness), rather than to depend on what Christ can has done for us (that is, provide salvation via the Cross and His Resurrection); and 2) dependence on following the law distracts us from depending on the Holy Spirit's leadings.  We tend to take a little of both: usually a little grace and a lot of law.  This amounts to new wine in old wine skin.  It the wine spoils and breaks the wine skin (Matthew 9:17). It simply does not work: the law produces death; the Spirit produces life (2 Corinthians 3:6). The mixture of the two denies the power of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:3), and alienates us from Christ (Galatians 5:4).

      The New Covenant way is intended to be a walk of faith: meat over milk.  The law  empowers sin (1 Corinthians 15:56, Romans 3:20), as it focuses us on denying what is forbidden (sin consciousness).  We should, instead, focus on the power of God (via the Holy Spirit) to empower us to lead a life of peace and victory.

      In my view, the evidence of salvation is faith in Jesus Christ and accepting Him as God and one's Savior (Romans 10:9-10).  I believe that the fruits of the Spirit are, moreso, evidence of sanctification.  In my view, the two (salvation and EVIDENCE of sanctification) are related but not dependent. 

      Before I head to the bunker (expecting the incoming "sanctification missiles"), I will remind some that the Thief on the Cross was saved, but never demonstrated any evidence of sanctification (although I believe he was sanctified — by Christ, per Hebrews 10:10).

      • Preston Foster
        20 January 2013 @ 4:36 pm

        Correction: in paragraph 4, #1 should read, "seeking to KEEP the law on our own . . "

  64. Stephen Ferguson
    19 January 2013 @ 1:30 pm

    I was further thinking today about the relationship and distinction between the negative-external Decalogue and the positive-internal 2 Great Commandments.  In particular, further reflecting on what Preston said, The Sabbath existed before the law and remains after the law (Hebrews 4: 3-6).  The Sabbath needs no further protection. “
     
    I think the Sabbath is an excellent issue that demonstrates the distinction between the two. The Sabbath is well placed to show how the Decalogue can point out sin, in its ministry of death and condemnation, and thus tell us we have a broken relationship with God. However, it is only Love, expressed in the 2 Great Commandments, that reflect what can be done to reconcile us in that relationship with God. (2 Cor 5:11-18).
     
    The Sabbath command is really about spending quality time in relationship with God, in finding spiritual and physical rest, and in taking time out of our own creative activities to acknowledge the true and original Creator.  The Decalogue can teach us what not to do with our time.  It tells us not to do any work, and not let our sons, nor daughters, nor aliens and nor even animals work.  But whilst the Decalogue can tell us what not to do with our time, that totally fails to tell us what to do.
     
    In Christ’s ministry, He dealt with Pharisees who were obsessed with what not to do with the Sabbath.  But He demonstrated, in both word and action, the next step and arguably far more important thing – what to do with our Sabbath time.  To refrain from making our animals work as the Decalogue commands is one thing, but the true demonstration of love is actually to work by pulling that animal out of a hole.
     
    We instinctively understand this as concerning earthly relationships.  To be told in a negative way we are a bad husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend because we are not spending enough time with our partner is indeed useful in identifying a problem – but it doesn’t fix that problem.  Rather, it is only be taking the next stop in a positive way and to spend quality time in love.  

    And adopting a negative attitude, that spending time with out partner by counting down the clock is hardly going to repair a rocky relationship.  Compare that with young love-birds, who have a totally different positive attitude, who wish to spent every single waking moment with their love possible, and pine away during the periods of being apart.
     
    For me, this issue of the Moral Law is a lot of this is indeed about attitude.  The FB#19 perhaps is indeed badly worded because it suggests Sabbath-keeping involves a focus on what not to do on the seventh-day as outlined in the Decalogue, rather than what we should do on the seventh-day per the 2 Great Commandments of love.

  65. earl calahan
    19 January 2013 @ 6:39 pm

    Again, i wish to commend Preston for his wisdom in inspiring us to understand the "WORD", when we study. Not to stumble forward with our pre-concieved concepts, completely ignoring the "true simplistic message"!!!! If we attempt to live by the letter of the law, we are legalists, modern day Pharisees. Not by works, lest any man should boast. It condems us, and will destroy us. If we could work our salvation by ourselves, Jesus would not have shed his blood to save us. But He did shed His blood for "my sinful nature", and yours. Gal. 5:18, "but if ye be led of the Spirit (God), ye are not under the law. "The law condems, the Spirit (God) saves. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, let Him into your heart to live, and you will be saved, constantly being led by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit will be your constant companion, leading you, but will chide you when you step out of the LIGHT, but never leave you or forsake you, Heb. 13:5. Praise God the Father, Praise God the Son, Praise God the Holy Spirit. Even so, come Lord Jesus.

    A glorious Sabbath day to all.

    • William Noel
      19 January 2013 @ 9:15 pm

      Amen!

  66. Stephen Ferguson
    20 January 2013 @ 1:37 am

    Brothers Foster and Tapiwa,

    You three all seem to be 'conservative' Adventists (relatively here), so you might appreciate the following 'balanced' passage from Mrs White on this topic from Steps to Christ:

    “There are two errors against which the children of God—particularly those who have just come to trust in His grace—especially need to guard. The first . . . is that of looking to their own works, trusting to anything they can do, to bring themselves into harmony with God. He who is trying to become holy by his own works in keeping the law, is attempting an impossibility. All that man can do without Christ is polluted with selfishness and sin. It is the grace of Christ alone, through faith, that can make us holy.

    The opposite and no less dangerous error is, that belief in Christ releases men from keeping the law of God; that since by faith alone we become partakers of the grace of Christ, our works have nothing to do with our redemption.

    But notice here that obedience is not a mere outward compliance, but the service of love. The law of God is an expression of His very nature; it is an embodiment of the great principle of love, and hence is the foundation of His government in heaven and earth. If our hearts are renewed in the likeness of God, if the divine love is implanted in the soul, will not the law of God be carried out in the life? When the principle of love is implanted in the heart, when man is renewed after the image of Him that created him, the new covenant promise is fulfilled: "I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them." And if the law is written in the heart, will it not shape the life? Obedience—the service and allegiance of love—is the true sign of discipleship.” — Steps to Christ (1892), pp. 64, 65. (emphasis added)
     

  67. Bill Garber
    20 January 2013 @ 2:42 am

    Stephen Ferguson,

    Excellent quote from Steps to Christ.  It does not clarify the underlying situation, but it help the surface question.

    If Salvation is all of grace and not of works, as FB #19 declares, then what room is there for the law, specifically the Ten Commandments?

    The Steps to Christ quote suggests that there isn't any room for the Ten Commandments in terms of facilitating one's personal salvation.  And that there is precious little room for the Ten Commandments in the life of a person embracing salvation as God's gracious act.  Indeed, Ellen White does not speak here of the Ten Commandments at all.  Rather she speaks of the 'great principle of love.'

    When a person feels themselves embraced by God's saving Grace, there is no thought of reaching for the check list.  No urge to open the scripture to Exodus 20.  One is mistically infused by the implantation of divine love, Ellen White explains.  And nothing is ever again the same.

    I believe that Preston is right to question the inadequacy of FB#19 in preserving the value of the Ten Commandments.  FB#19 is about preserving the Ten Commandments, and thus preserving the Sabbath, and thus preserving the potential of the Seventh-day Adventist church as being identifably in Revelation as the one and only church that 'keeps the commandments of God and has the faith of Jesus.'

    The underlying situation that Preston may be hinting at is that salavation does not come by way of a church.  There is no need for a church in terms of one's personal salvation.

    Indeed our salvation is 'not of ourselves.'

    If our salvation is not of ourselves, then it is neither by Faith or by Works, as Ellen White makes clear she believes. (F&W 19-20)

    If this is so, then, friends, we are saved by reason of our being the object of the Creator's loving committment to his creation.

    We may or may not come to know that we are saved, to be able to express our faith in our Creator's Grace toward his creation.  But either way, we and everyone we have ever known is saved.

    When reading the Bible about those who are 'lost' it usually helps to interpret 'lost' as not knowing that they are saved.  This is a very unhappy situation to be in as the Bible explains.

    Those with faith in their salvation by God's Grace do indeed have very good news to bring to the fearful 'lost' …

    • Stephen Ferguson
      20 January 2013 @ 9:12 am

      "Indeed, Ellen White does not speak here of the Ten Commandments at all.  Rather she speaks of the 'great principle of love.'"

      I agree, and that is a great observation Bill that is perhaps helping us to drill down further to some of the details here.

      In the post-conversion experience, she does mention the 'law' but she doesn't say 10 Commandments at all – as you rightly say – she speaks of the great principle of love, and then ends with the quote about the law in our hearts as promised in the New Covenant.  She does talk about obedience and works, but obedience and works do come from the Decalogue, which as negative-external aspects of God's character only point out sin, but rather from that great principle of love, being the positive-internal aspects.

      • Stephen Foster
        20 January 2013 @ 10:59 am

        Ferguson,
         
        I think that you have made some excellent observations and are very much on the mark on your negative/positive/law/love theme.
         
        Frankly, I have perceived you and Preston to be in more agreement than disagreement.
         
        In my opinion, manifestations of the fruits of the Spirit are keys to comprehending the grace and law/faith and works issues. The Spirit’s fruits are all positive; as opposed to being negative ‘thou shalt nots.’
         
        It is when these fruits are not manifested—and those things referenced in Galatians 5:19-21 are—that we have a law/sin problem.
         

        Bill Garber:
         
        “We may or may not come to know that we are saved, to be able to express our faith in our Creator's Grace toward his creation.  But either way, we and everyone we have ever known is saved.

        When reading the Bible about those who are 'lost' it usually helps to interpret 'lost' as not knowing that they are saved.  This is a very unhappy situation to be in as the Bible explains.

        Those with faith in their salvation by God's Grace do indeed have very good news to bring to the fearful 'lost'”
         
        It’s unclear to me what you are saying. Jesus reveals, in Matthew 18:3, Luke 18:17 and Revelation 21:8 among other places, that everyone will not be saved; doesn’t He?
         
        Doesn’t Paul clearly indicate in 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 and in Galatians 5:19-21 that certain acts (naturally) result from a nature in total opposition to the Spirit’s leading; and that such acts have certain results?
         
        How would you interpret Titus 1:16 or 1 John 3:15; or do I misunderstand? 

      • Stephen Ferguson
        20 January 2013 @ 1:07 pm

        Yes, I think Preston and I are largely in agreement here.  It perhaps illustrates how this topic is one hand exceedingly simple to understand deep down, but at the same time exceedingly hard to articulate in a very clear way. Perhaps that is a far criticism of the authors of FB#19 as well.  

        Sorry my statement left out a 'not' should have said:

        'She [Mrs White] does talk about obedience and works, but obedience and works do not come from the Decalogue, which as negative-external aspects of God's character only point out sin, but rather from that great principle of love, being the positive-internal aspects.'

  68. Stephen Ferguson
    20 January 2013 @ 3:05 am

    And from Question on Doctrine, question #14, I found very helpful:

    What is commonly overlooked and little understood in this present day conflict between law and grace is that the issue is not between these two principles, as such, but between the abuse of the law, on the one hand and grace on the other.

To put the matter another way, it is only when the law is made a means of salvation or of restraint of sin that it comes into conflict with the principles of grace.
     
    In every other respect the two are complementary and not conflicting. But the law was never designed to save. In its essential principle it is not, and cannot ever be, opposed to grace, for the two operate in distinctly separate fields and for widely divergent purposes. The law is designed to reveal sin; grace is designed to save from sin.
     
    No conflict can possibly exist between these two.

The difference does not lie in the commandments of law versus the commandment-free life of grace, for the fact is that grace has its commandments too! Those who always associate the word "command" with the word "law" have failed to read the Bible accurately.

    After all, a command is but the expression of a desire on the part of one who has authority. If Christ is Lord of our lives, then He has authority in our lives and His requests become commands to all who love Him. These are the commandments of grace. The difference between them and the commandments of law lies in the motive. Why does one obey the law? For fear! Why does one obey a command of grace? For love!

    There lies the difference. The command may be the same in either case; the motive alone differs. What made the law so irritating was the sense of constraint it engendered. We were being asked to do what we really did not want to do. The same command, in the relationship of grace, elicits a prompt and willing obedience from us because we love the One who asks it of us. The sense of constraint is utterly gone.

What happened, then, when grace superseded law? Did the desire of God for men, as expressed in the law, change? No; it was even intensified and made to be inward rather than merely outward.
     
    What, then, changed? The motive of men's hearts! Once we strove in vain to obey a just law, lashed on by our fears of wrath to come. Now, as believers in Christ, we stand before God in the perfect righteousness of Christ and, because we love Him who first loved us, we seek to please Him—something we find great pleasure ourselves in doing—and thus, unconsciously, fulfill the law. "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, judged sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Rom. 8:3, 4). The last clause is descriptive of what grace makes us do. (Italics supplied.)

    http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/books/qod/q14.htm

  69. earl calahan
    20 January 2013 @ 9:06 am

    Re: SDA FB'S. i do not presume to have the wisdom to edit the church's FB'S, but the present descriptive outline appears much too wordy, lengthy, and insular. A person seeking to learn a bit about SDA'S beliefs, i believe, would grow tired, confused, and give up the search. The church will not lead a soul to the church with this list of stated preamble. Please consider the following:

     1. The Holy Scriptures, the Bible, Old and New Testaments, are the inspired written Word of God.  There is one  God, the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, the Holy Spirit, they are a Unity of three, united All in All, in one co-eternal Godhead.

    2. God is the eternal Almighty. Creator of all, in time and space, including the Earth, which God created in six days, resting the seventh day, the Sabbath, and hallowed it as a memorial of His Creation.

    3. The Ten Commandants given to Moses, as a covenant for the Jewish nation, in the Old Testament,
    states the Moral law of God. It expresses God's love, His will, and the perfection of His character, and
    His abiding lifeplan for mankind.

    4. Humanity is God's ultimate creation on Earth, and bears His image. Mankind failed God, and sinned by disobeying God's commands. All mankind are sinners. God, in the person of Jesus Christ, came to Earth, born in the humanity of man, in the flesh. He lived  a life free of sin, and gave His life, shed His blood, and suffered death, which sin demands. He paid the ransom price, once, for all sinners, and God accepts every sinner as though they never sinned, because Christ, free of sin became sin for all humanity, thereby reconciling all believers to God. On the third day following crucifixion, Jesus rose from the tomb, and after visiting His disciples, ascended to heaven. One day, in God's timing, all that are His will also rise from the grave. He will summon them forth, restore their souls, and give them a uncorruptable body alike His glorious body.

    5. God's church are those on Earth who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Master. Jesus living in each heart, and led by the Holy Spirit into life everlasting. Mankind will follow in the footsteps of Jesus, by baptism, and celebrating the Lord's supper, as He did, as an example for us.

    6. God, our Creator, after the six days of Creation, rested on the seventh day, instituting the Sabbath
    day, as His  memorial, of all His Almighty power. The fourth Commandment of God's Holy law requires the observance of the Sabbath, forever, as a day of rest and  worship. The Sabbath day is God's perpetual sign of His eternal covenants with His people.

    7. When God, in His timing, declares the end of this phase of Earth's existence, Jesus Christ will return with great glory, with His angels, and will call fourth all those in the dust of the Earth, that are His; those who in life, by faith, accepted His grace. They will rise into the air to be with the Lord forever. 

  70. Stephen Ferguson
    20 January 2013 @ 2:51 pm

    Bill: "FB#19 is about preserving the Ten Commandments, and thus preserving the Sabbath"

    I generally agree except in one pedantic sense.  The Ten Commandments don't preserve the Sabbath necessarily, they only preserve Sabbath-prohibitions – telling us what not to do on the Sabbath.  The Decalogue tells us nothing about what to do with our time on the Sabbath.  Jesus example of love, of working to pull an animal out of a hole on the Sabbath or healing the sick is the example of what to do on the Sabbath when the Decalogue only tells us that humans or animals working is forbidden.  

    In that sense, the Decalogue doesn't actually preserve Sabbath-keeping at all, which we all know from some of the warped views Jews can have (and quite a few Adventists as well).  Only love truly preserves true Sabbath-keeping. 

    • William Noel
      21 January 2013 @ 9:23 pm

      Stephen,

      The Fourth Commandment has an intensely positive dimension in the command to keep the day holy.  This presupposes that we know God well enough to understand His will so we can make decisions that are compatible with His will.  But when God is little more than an inconvenience or a theory, as is the case for most professed Christians, it simply is not possible for such a person to more than guess about what is pleasing to God.  Such guessing has led so many into the depths of legalism. 

      • Stephen Ferguson
        22 January 2013 @ 12:23 am

        But we don't naturally understand how to keep the Sabbath in a positive sense, to keep it holy, solely from reading the Decalogue.  The Pharisees demonstrated this.  We understand true Sabbath-keeping from the principle of love, written in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which is the New Covenant.  

        It is all about emphasis.

        • laffal
          22 January 2013 @ 12:31 am

          Stephen,

          How then does your statement "true Sabbath-keeping from the principle of love, written in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which is the New Covenant", differ in principle from what Preston wrote in this piece? 

          • Stephen Ferguson
            22 January 2013 @ 10:41 am

            It doesn't.  If you have followed the chain of argument, I am happy to admit that I largely agree with Preston.  The confusion arose because he was largely addressing the role of the Law in a post-conversion experience, which I thought he was taking to mean the Decalogue had no use or relevance in its ministry of condemnation in pointing out sin.  

            But Preston doesn't advocate that, as far as I know.  I wholly agree with him that in the post-conversion experience, it is the Moral Law found in the 2 Great Commandments which are written on our hearts that matter. 

            Thus, the Decalogue is an external-negative aspect of the Moral Law, which is useful in pointing out sin, but it doesn't save.  Moreover, whilst the Decalogue can tell us how not to live it can't tell us how to live.  It is the Moral Law as found in the 2 Great Commandments of love, being the positive-internal aspect written on our hearts, that tell us how to live and not just how not to live.

        • William Noel
          22 January 2013 @ 2:00 pm

          Stephen,

          Exactly.  When our emphasis is on knowing God we will grow in our understanding of what is or is not holy because we are learning directly from Him.  The problem with the pharisees was they thought their knowledge about God and their obedience to God's law (and the human expansions of it) counted for righteousness in the eyes of God.  Unfortunately, today we have a lot of professed christians who have fallen into that same trap. 

  71. Preston Foster
    20 January 2013 @ 5:13 pm

    I concur, Timo.  The truth will set us free.

    • laffal
      20 January 2013 @ 5:16 pm

      hummph…

      "Make us free"

      I would rather be made free then set free anyday.

      🙂

      • Preston Foster
        20 January 2013 @ 5:44 pm

        So very true, laffal!

  72. Bill Garber
    21 January 2013 @ 6:41 pm

    Stephen Ferguson,

    Seventh-day Adventists believe that the Ten Commandments are 'bingding upon all people in every age.'  This is the basis for embracing the Seventh-day Sabbath, which is the public core distinguishing characteristic of the church.  And you are right that the Fourth Commandment offers nothing by way of what Sabbath behavior looks like, other than that it doesn't look like work.

    Sabbath is actually is at the core of the gospel.  You'll recall that Genesis records that God, Adam, and Eve each had their own work to do.  God assumed responsbility for the Serpent.  Adam was to provide the human family with food.  And Eve was to be responsible for making and tending to babies, thus perpetuating the human family.  The Sabbath is where the man quites working in recognition that in the ultimate sense, he has nothing to contribute to his family's spiritual salvation. Child care as well as conception continues on the Sabbath without interruption.

    Earl Calahan,

    I really appreciate your efforts to seek and describe in simple language the essence of God's interaction with humanity. Indeed, the more complicated we make it, the more we tend to need to depend on the church and the less confident we are on our own.  I'm thinking you, like me, especially appreciate Jesus' note that in terms of complexity, 'unless you become as a little child, you cannot understand the Kingdom of God.'

    Stephen Foster,

    What I'm saying with respect to the texts you reference as bring perplexity is this.  These texts all appear to have to do with human life in real time, as it is being lived, in the hear and now. (I admit the Revelation is heavily metaphorical, by design, and some are uncomfortable reading the metaphore instead of the words, though the last three chapters reference the pleagues and the churches and the angels, all of which tend to anchor the meaning in the human experience on earth without omitting the unknown glory to come somewhere in the eternal sky of the universe.  I acknowledge other people embrace the meaning more literally and more supernaturally.)

    However you interprete the consequences, we absolutely agree that human life, human experience is consequential.  We are the consequence of God's creation.  We are the consequence of our humanity.  And we all wrestle to sense ourselves in terms of our origins, our circumstance and our destiny.

    The Gospel brings a reassuring assertion that we are God's creation, God has affirmed our human expeirence as not beneath the Creator but worth of the Creator by assuming it in totality, from birth to death, as Jesus God's son, and Jesus has declared that he not only embraces the human experience but was sent to decleare that the human experience is not the end but that God's human creation has a destiny that is played out in a new earth and with a new life beyond the human plight.

    And most assuring of all is Jesus declaration that we can experience the reality of that in our present life by accepting his promise, realizing his mission, and embracing him as our brother, and by faith accepting his promis that where he is to be we will be also.

    And as your brother, Preston, is saying, this is all a matter of belief, not of behavior.  This is wholy a matter of promise, not of prescription.  And as such, it is time that we move beyond our historical embrace of the law as in any way a facilitator of our salvation, let alone as a describer of those who believe.

    I really like Earl's effort to describe what is.  There is really no need to describe what is required, either of God or of us.  God is sovereign.  

    • Stephen Foster
      21 January 2013 @ 11:12 pm

      God is sovereign, and His grace saves. Rather than law, the texts that begged your interpretation relate to belief and love.
       
      Belief and love bear fruit with eternal rewards. Unbelief and hate have ultimate consequences. The rewards differ (drastically) from the consequences.

  73. Stephen Ferguson
    22 January 2013 @ 12:31 am

    Bill: "Child care as well as conception continues on the Sabbath without interruption."

    Don't many Jews actively seek to conceive on the Sabbath, to comply with the command to multiply and to take part with God in creation, thus honouring God as Creator?  Perhaps that is a positive element of the 4th Command?

    • William Noel
      22 January 2013 @ 2:06 pm

      Stephen,

      I can't speak to that question.  But I do remember a news story from back in the early 80s when my wife and I were working in New York City, which has a large Jewish population of various sects from liberal to ultra-conservative.  The story was that a young ultra-conservative couple who had a baby.  They lived inside the line marking the legal "Sabbath day's journey" distance from the synagogue.  There was no problem with her carrying the baby.  But they threw her out of the synagogue for carrying a burden on the Sabbath because she carried a diaper bag. 

      Just another example of how the pursuit of perfect obedience can turn a blessing into a curse.

      • Stephen Ferguson
        22 January 2013 @ 2:43 pm

        I guess I am going off what some of my Jewish friends say.

  74. Bill Garber
    22 January 2013 @ 3:00 am

    Stephen Ferguson, I'm not surprised you picked up on the embrace of the Sabbath space as an ideal time for sex.  I recall Senator Joe Liberman mentioning this in an interview regarding his book, The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath.  
     
    Stephen Foster, I would like to affirm your assertion that belief and love as well as unbelief and hate have consequences … with the exception that I do not believe that any of these consequences live on with us beyond this life.  Indeed, it is quite possible that our belief and our love are themselves consequences of something beyond us.  
     
    As for consequences, if we are indeed the clay and the Creator is the poter, we are a consequence, we do not generate consequences.  In Paul's second letter to the Phillippians he calls on them to fulfill his joy by their continuing mindfulness and belief … What evocative language Paul uses in embracing them … And note that in calling for their continuing embrace of Christ so that in so doing they will bring satisfaction to him in the day of Christ that his work was not in vain for them, he asserts "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."  Here is Paul, always the champion of Grace, even when imploring the Phillipians to sustain him in their belief in Christ and the natural shedding of love among themselves thereby.

    The second chapter of Phillipians is so rich, so evocative, to elemental, I just pasted is all here for your convenience.  What a wonderful context for the assertion that it is God who worketh in you both to wil and to do his good pleasure. 
     
    2 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
    2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
    3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
    4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
    5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
    6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
    7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
    8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
    9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
    10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
    11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
    12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
    13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
    14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
    15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
    16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
    17 Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.
    18 For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.
    19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.
    20 For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.
    21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.
    22 But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.
    23 Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.
    24 But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.
    25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.
    26 For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.
    27 For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.
    28 I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.
    29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:
    30 Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.
     

    • Stephen Foster
      22 January 2013 @ 4:50 am

      Bill,
       
      I appreciate you providing the texts; but with great respect, you have not provided any Scriptural support whatsoever for your assertion and belief that none “of these consequences live on with us beyond this life.”
       
      Besides, for what it’s worth, I have characterized the rewards of a fruit-bearing Spirit-led life slightly differently than you have. You have characterized the results of belief and love—as well as those of unbelief and hate—as all consequences. I called the results of belief and love “rewards;” and called those of unbelief and hate “consequences.” (Since Revelation 22:12 indicates that everything is a “reward,” you may be more accurate.)  
       
      Of course the Apostle Paul contrasts these as “the gift of God” versus “the wages of sin.” (Roman 6:23) Paul, “always the champion of grace,” is the guy who wrote 2 Thessalonians 2.

      Though you “do not believe that any of these consequences live on with us beyond this life;” I would remind you that Paul also wrote 1 Thessalonians 4.

      • Bill Garber
        22 January 2013 @ 10:05 pm

        Stephen Foster,
         
        Does it seem to you, like it does to me, that if we are saved by undeserved Grace, a gift, and a result that is not of ourselves, then none of the consequences of our lives now impact whether we are the beneficiaries of Grace?  
         
        If so, this would suggest that the fruits or gifts of the spirit as well as the failings and defects of the human experience have exclusively present rather than future impact in the world to come.
         
        Maybe it is only a hope of mine.
         
        If there is something more explicit from the Bible that may be helpful the 'behold I make all things new' reference in Revelation 21 comes to mind.  Though I am reluctant to see this all in terms of a verse alonel
         
         
        The struggle with regard to the meaning of our lives as humans sure seems to lurk here, doesn't it?  It seems so to me.  Why are we here in the life that the human experience inevitably is?  This is the Theodicy issue.
         
        The common, even intuitive Christian answer is that we are all being give a personal chance to openly embrace the Creator as not only righteous but loving and just and merciful.  And the thought continues.  Those who fail to embrace the Creator will be destroyed, thus making way for a new earth where God reigns and peace prevails because only those who embrace God fully populate the universe made over.
         
        The disheartening aspect of such a picture is that it paints humanity as an evolutionary undertaking by the Creator.  Those who embrace and love God are deemed worthy of salvation, while those who are defective in this regard are destroyed.  This is raw survival of the fittest on the spiritual plane.  And the irony does not escape the careful observer that such spiritual evolution is embraced most strongly by those who denounce physical evolution as Godless.
         
        Now, by no means does universal restoration resolve the Theodicy issue.  My goodness, if we all end up populating the new earth, why in the world did we end up living as humans in the first place?  What a deluge of suffering to what end?
         
        That said, I prefer not solving the Theodicy problem than solving it by spiritual evolution where some become redeemable, and some or as remnant Seventh-day Adventist history declares the vast majority of humanity will be snuffed out as a solution to the 'sin problem.'
         
        The 'sin problem' occurred without human assistance  and long before the Earth was created as the Seventh-day Adventist vision of the Great Controversy explains. 
         
        If we individually play no role in our salvation, otherwise as Ellen White commented, the Creator would be dependent on the Creature, then we most certainly play no role in resolving 'the sin problem' or The Great Controversy.
         
        In a very real way we are along for the ride, it seems, in any ultimate sense, whether described by The Great Controversy or universal restoration.
         
        And while the consequences of our lives now may not determine our future, perhaps we will remember some of them in the future.  Though in resolving the Theodicy issue I wonder if there can possibly be everlasting consequences remaining from our lives as we now live them.  
         
        I appreciated again rereading the two chapters you referenced in Thessalonians.  It sense the writer nuturing the belief of the saints in Thessalonica to their benefit now and until the Lord returns.  And, no, I do not sense any suggestion that their perseverance will have any impact on whether they will be with the Lord when he comes and there seems a clean break between the present life and the life beyond as described here.
         

        • Stephen Foster
          23 January 2013 @ 12:37 am

          Bill Garber,
           
          There was a time that I offered a similar theory on the meaning of our lives: there is none.
           
          It was however just a personal theory/theodicy; as so it appears that yours is.
           
          Mine was that God’s omniscience and/or foreknowledge rendered everything irrelevant and ultimately without meaning. Time and space on this thread, or even on this site, will not allow us to go much further except to say that I finally became convinced that the Bible explains enough for me to realize/understand that this is certainly not true.
           
          I also came to realize/understand that no matter how my brain works—or more often doesn’t work—I cannot outthink or second guess God about the meaning of life (or about anything else, for that matter).
           
          We have been offered the choice of accepting everything from the Source of everything; or rejecting everything from that same Source.
           
          We make this decision in this life; and love is the key.
           
          We are not the source of the gift of salvation; so salvation is not of, or from, any of us.  
           
          A wise man once told me that Love is actually more powerful than God; because Love controls God. But the Bible says that God is Love; so who will you believe? (That is an attempt at humor, Bill.)
           
          Love compelled God’s sacrifice so that we may be offered everything by simply believing this fact. We can choose to love Him, or more accurately choose to want to love Him; or we can choose not to love Him, or more accurately not to want to love Him.  Grace fills the gap between what we do and what we want to do.
           
          But the reward/consequences of love and that of belief, or of unbelief and indifference, are all determined in this life; and are experienced in what is to come.
           
          (That said, I'm cleary not smart enough to understand how you can read 2 Thessalonians 2: 8-17 and conclude that you “do not believe any of these consequences live on with us beyond this life.")

  75. Stephen Ferguson
    22 January 2013 @ 10:47 am

    Looking at what FB#19 actually says, rather than Preston paraphrase, it actually says:

    'The great principles of God's law are embodied in the Ten Commandments and exemplified in the life of Christ.'

    Could it be possible to read this as saying that the reference to the Ten Commandments are intended to cover the negative-external aspects of the Moral Law, which point out sin and how not to live; whereas, the phrase 'exemplified in the life of Christ' is intended to cover the positive-internal aspects of the Moral Law, which are written on our hearts and produce in us fruits of positive living rather than just prohibitions?

    Perhaps I am pushing it, and perhaps my attempt is proof enough that the current wording is ambiguous.  

  76. Preston Foster
    22 January 2013 @ 12:52 pm

    Stephen Ferguson,

    To be clear, the quotations I cited are not paraphased, but verbatim excerpts of the sections of FB 19 that I found theologically or spiritually troublesome.

    • Stephen Ferguson
      22 January 2013 @ 1:11 pm

      Preston, you left out the first sentence in FB#19, which starts, "The great principles of God's law…'.  Your article quote FB#19 starting at the 2nd sentence, "They express God's love…"   

      Re-check it off the GC website if you don't believe me:

      http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental/index.html

      I am just wondering why you left out that first sentence, because I think it could be argued that the first sentence of the FB has some importance.  That said, I totally support you in many of your criticisms of the FB, and some of its ambiguities.  

      You insert brackets "(the 10 commandments)", which perhaps you meant square brackets [the 10 commandments]. You suggest by your slightly inaccurate quote that this 2nd sentence in the FB that the word "they" is only limited to the Decalogue, where the 1st sentence suggests God's Law is not just the 10 Commandments but also the life of Jesus Christ.

      I am being pedantic, but so is your criticism of FB#19.  Again, after following you on your journey, I understand where you are coming from, and not opposed to many of your comments or sentiments.  I do, however, think you could have been clearer, although it is admittedly a very difficult subject which Christians have debated for thousands of years.

      However, it is arguably, although admittedly unclear, that FB#19 is arguing that it is not neecssarily just the Decalogue, being the negative-external aspects of the Law, but perhaps also the Great Commandments of Love, being the positive-internal aspects of the Law, which are 'binding upon all people in every age'. That said, I wouldn't have used those words, as you rightly criticise, even though that wording is well-used throughout the historic creeds of Christianity.  

      You will also note the title of FB#19 is not "10 Commandments" but "Law of God."  

  77. Preston Foster
    22 January 2013 @ 8:25 pm

    Stephen,

    As stated, I focused on verbatim EXCERPTS of FB that I found troublesome.  I do not believe that I have misinterpreted the what they (the authors of FB 19) were trying to communicate.  To your points:

    – "They" in the second sentence describe what is "binding upon all people in every age" in sentence 1 of FB 19.  Later, in sentence 3, "They" (from sentence 1) also describe the "precepts" that are "basis of God's covenant with His people."  Rarely, if ever, have I heard a life described as binding on anyone or, more rare, having a life referenced as a "precept," which is defined as "a commandment, instruction, or order intended as an authoritative rule of action"  (per Wikipedia).

    Below is the pasted OBJECTIONABLE portion (in bold) of the first section of FB 19, as it reads:

    "The great principles of God's law are embodied in the Ten Commandments and exemplified in the life of Christ. They express God's love, will, and purposes concerning human conduct and relationships and are binding upon all people in every age. These precepts are the basis of God's covenant with His people and the standard in God's judgment. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit they point out sin and awaken a sense of need for a Saviour. Salvation is all of grace and not of works, but its fruitage is obedience to the Commandments." 

    I inserted the parenthesis in the hope of clarifying the reference I found objectionble in the context of "upon all people in every age."  I aplogize for any confusion.  I believe that  my interpretation (e.g., "They" in sentence 2) accurately refers to the 10 Commandments.

    I believe that the "10 Commandments" and the "Law of God," in this context, are intended to be synonymous.

    • Stephen Ferguson
      23 January 2013 @ 12:18 am

      "As stated, I focused on verbatim EXCERPTS of FB that I found troublesome. I do not believe that I have misinterpreted the what they (the authors of FB 19) were trying to communicate." 

      Ok Preston, I'll take your word for it.  It just seemed odd to me that your article quoted in full the entire FB#19 without the first sentence.  Even if you found nothing objectionable in that first sentence, surely it would have been more helpful for readers to let them read for themselves that first sentence, so they could have the full context of the whole statement, even if you did not have any objection to that first sentence.  

      It was only much later in the debate, when I read the FB in full off the GC website, that your excerpt missed out that first sentence.  I know you used the word 'excerpt' in your opening lines, but I think you were perhaps a little unclear and I am sure many others thought they were reading the FB in full.  Maybe I am just a little dumb.

      Not a big deal.  I was just wondering if that first sentence you left out in your quotation has any context to the rest of the FB.  

      You are probably right that the Law of God referred to in the first sentence is probably just the negative-external Ten Commandments, not any positive-internal 2 Great Commandments of love.  If nothing else, I agree that the current FB is confusing and dangerously worded insofar as it refers to the Ten Commandments but not explicitly the 2 Great Commandments of Love.

  78. Anonymous
    22 January 2013 @ 9:04 pm

    As I scroll through all these comments, and struggle to keep my mind focused, and my eyes from glazing over, I am struck by a couple of things: 1) The tendency to use dueling texts as proxies for truths that can only be vindicated and revealed in the lives of Christ's followers; 2) The tendency to assume that the paradoxes and ironies revealed in scripture can somehow be resolved through textual snowball fights, and encapsulated in propositional abstractions. Why is it that those who hear God calling them, through the Bible, to lives of fidelity and obedience, want to use their window on truth to propositionally attenuate the voice of God offering, through the Bible, salvation as an unconditional free gift – and vice versa?

    Do we really believe that more theologically defensible propositional statements of nuanced beliefs, which 99.99% of Adventists could not even identify, much less exegete, would have any impact upon our love for God or our love for our neighbors??? Is it possible that God is saying "Yes, now go live it," to both sides of the debate? Is it just possible that each side needs the other, and that a hurting, depraved world needs to have both sides sharing in service, instead of debating over which side will have priority in the Kingdom?

  79. Preston Foster
    22 January 2013 @ 10:31 pm

    Nathan, 

    I believe the issue is VERY important as many sincere, God-fearing SDAs define their religion and, more specifically, their religious observance by the FBs.  Significantly, and specific to this case, many SDAs know little of and do not embrace the New Covenant because literal adherence to the FBs can discount it or, at best, conflate it with the Old Covenant.

    Many do not know the Holy Spirit.  Many live by the (binding) law of the letter.

    If you told some to "go live it," many, like Bill Clinton (re: the word "is"), might say, It depends on what the definition of 'it' is." 

    Are we to be led by the Spirit or by the law?  They produce quite different fruit ("The law is not of faith").  The answer is non-trivial, if the fruits of the Spirit are to be manifested.

    As a reader and a scholar who has likely considered these issues before, your eyes may glaze over.  However, I would wager that there are those for whom these dueling texts are enlightening and stimulating.  If it drives them to their Bible to discover the truth for themselves, it might be worth a little glazing.

    • Anonymous
      23 January 2013 @ 3:49 pm

      I hear what you're saying Preston, and I agree that ideas do indeed matter. I just don't know why it has to be an either/or thing, especially as there is no end of Biblical evidence to support both emphases. Doesn't The Spirit speaks to us both through general principles (law) and personal promptings (faith)? Is there perhaps a danger that one can get rigid and legalistic in formulating theological arguments against legalism? And why do we have to insist on forcing people into an extremist ideological camp simply because they don't want to lie in the Procrustean beds of our theological formulations?

      • Preston Foster
        23 January 2013 @ 4:40 pm

        Nathan,

        Thanks for this.

        The only thing I wish to force is to move people on either side of this issue (or no side at all) out of their vestigal spiritual cocoons and to (re) examine the basis of their beliefs — in the context of what The Word says.

        The temptation to believe a little of both may lead some to believe nothing.  The foundation of the New Covenant is faith (in contrast to law).

  80. earl calahan
    23 January 2013 @ 6:24 pm

    Man has searched for the origens & the reasoning of !!!!!!! L I F E !!!!!!! longer than the written record
    discloses. Some have believed that life is only an illusion. That a holographic picture of space would be
    empty. Nothing. Yet, when i hit my finger with a hammer, the illusion causes severe trauma. 
    It's been established that computer speed doubles approx every 12-18 months, thru continued research.
    The amazing result is we now have available to study, the human genome, the helix twist, which has a record of man's variations, mutations & history. To be continued.

    • William Noel
      24 January 2013 @ 2:56 pm

      Earl,

      If I hit my with a hammer there is no illusion of trauma.  Likewise, the working of the Holy Spirit in my life is no illusion.  But to those who refuse to experience God's promise it remains illusion. 

    • earl calahan
      24 January 2013 @ 10:03 pm

       {continued} Now we are researching the nano & developing its potential benefits. To be followed by the 
      femto, atto, zepto, yocto, etc, etc, etc, infinity.
      Biology, geology, physical scientists of all persausions, seek empiracal observeable evidence, including
      theoretical studies of the past, Darwin et al, to further their knowledge, while disbelieveing, or giving no consideration to the theistic written record of the Bible, written by many authors, over many years of their first person experiences, or were ordained by God to give a message to His Creation. ID and complexity is in every living form, extreme complexity, that random or mutational minute changes could never account for. Search the Hubble Telescopic photographs of deep space, what do you see, myraid star systems, some birthing, others being refined in black holes, and they stretch to eternal infinity. Do you believe this is illusion? You account for it by believing it all happened with a condensed bit of matter that exploded, and one day will reverse and repeat again, endlessly? Maybe, but to do so, although bombastic, would be orderly planning. The Set Mind has blinded many to the consideration of SUPER- NATURAL happenings, which i believe contain God's Almightyness, that His eternal presence has displayed. God's ways are not man's ways. We cannot know the mind of IAM, Eternal Being. If we have only this single living oneness, we are a priviledged existential people, to look into the real, awesome, beautiful, spatial, infinity of the universe, and i believe therefore we have a fair view of the Majesty of God's being and presence. It's as though we are actually looking into the face of  GOD.  Ps.19:1, 2, The heavens declare GOD'S glory. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge.
      We must not be so conceited that we believe God has only this tiny minute mite as His only concern.

  81. Tapiwa Mushaninga
    24 January 2013 @ 1:50 pm

    Hi all

    The question that I would LIke to ask it the place of obedience in the life of a converted christian? I have thought about this throughout the week and I believe that If one is a new covenant christian, his obedience should be unparalled even by the legalists after all Christ said our righteousness should exceed that of the pharisees.  I believe that there are two gospels at play and as much as Stephen likes plurality and theological diversity, even he has to agree that there can be only one gospel. There is only one way to salvation and not the new age theory where many ways lead to heaven. allow me to further articulate the major differences

    1. We all believe that we are saved, but disagree on what we are saved from. Some believe we are saved fron the penalty of sin  but I believe we are saved from the penalty and power of sin.

    2. We all agree that we are saved by grace alone, through faith but we disagree on what that grace is and what it can achieve. I believe that Grace can make a person blameless, sinless, righteous as long as the person loves God and is totally dependant and is dead to self.

    3. We all agree that Christ finished something at the cross but we disagree on what exactly was finished, some adventists (surprisingly) believe that it was the atonement that finished but the bible or SOP do not teach this. The sacrifice or propitiation was completed at the cross but the atonement was not completed

    4. Some believe that sin is inevitable in the life of a converted christian but this is completely anti bible and numerous texts corraborate this. If you believe that sin is an inevitability, then salvation is nothing more than a licence to sin where if you are caught without the justification pass then you are sent to hell.

    5. Some Believe that God impute righteousness but cannot impart it but I believe God can do both completely!

    6. Some believe that sanctification is a friut of justification but that again is wrong because Both refer to what God does for a helpless sinner and what God does is not a fruit of anything!

    7.Some believe that there are no conditions to salvation but in verity ther are! These include, confession, repentance, belief, faith, total surrender, willingness to obey,  etc without these God cannot save you  because He cannot force salvation down your throat. Note well, these are are not cuases of salvation but the give God the legal right to save you.

    8. Preston believes that the law in the life of a christian is no longer binding but I am trying to figure out how a law that is written in the heart is no longer binding. I always thought the love of  Christ constraineth us but some what "freedom" from these constriants.

    9. Some believe Justification is to be declared righteous but I believe it is to be made and declared righteous. Justification is not legal fiction

    10 Many believe the theat Christ for you the hope of all glory but I prefer to Go with the bible, Christ in you , the hope of all glory!

    Ultimately each individual will have to study and make a choice for themsleves after all deception abounds! So we can argue theologically, intellectually but each person must choose.

    • laffal
      24 January 2013 @ 2:33 pm

      Tapiwa,

      #6 – The fruit of the Spirit is…against which there is no law. Galatians 5:22-24  Abide in me, and I will abide in you, and you will bear much fruit.  John 15:5  Fruit is a medaphor to discribe the work of God in the life of a believer and it's results.

      #7 – Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  Romans 10:13 Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. Acts 16:30.31 The Bible condition for salvation is belief / faith.  Just as an example from the SOP.  The question will come up, How is it? Is it by conditions that we receive salvation? Never by conditions do we come to Christ. And if we come to Christ, then what is the condition? The condition is that by living faith we lay hold wholly and entirely upon the merits of the blood of a crucified and risen Saviour. When we do that, then we work the works of righteousness.  {1888 537.2} 

      #8 – Love / agape is a higher motivation (constraineth) then that of a requirement which "binding" clearly implies.  Love takes the risk to allow its object to say no.  Preston can speak for himself, but he has ever insisted on the life / work of the Spirit in the believer… which is always in harmony with God's law.  And the Bible supports this.

      #9 – Justification is to be declared righteous… nobody will be MADE righteous until Christ returns.  Romans 5:19 (made righteous is in the future tense)

      Peace

      • Tapiwa Mushaninga
        24 January 2013 @ 3:19 pm

        Laffal

        It is Good that you quoted from sop at least we can talk the same language. aloow me to give a rebuttal of your responses

        #6       In Gal 5:22-23 if you read closely, the fruits are specifiedand sanctification is not on that list. Actually the fruits occur because sanctification ,ie  God's work is taking place. Nothing God does is a fruit of anything , but what God does produces fruits. Clear?

        #7 it is important when making a biblical argument to look at the entire biblical consensus
        and not a few texts. Consider these Romans 2:13 this is not a verse you will hear preston quoting in the positive anytime soon! By the way it is where we first find the word justified in Paul's writings surprise surprise! Now let me reply in kind and supplythe testimony of Jesus Quotations

         I was attending a meeting, and a large congregation were present. In my dream you were presenting the subject of faith and the imputed righteousness of Christ by faith. You repeated several times that works amounted to nothing, that there were no conditions. The matter was presented in that light that I knew minds would be confused and would not receive the correct impression in reference to faith and works, and I decided to write to you. You state this matter too strongly. There are conditions to our receiving justification and sanctification, and the righteousness of Christ. I know your meaning, but you leave a wrong impression upon many minds. While good works will not save even one soul, yet it is impossible for even one soul to be saved without good works. {FW 111}

        he conditions of salvation are ever the same. Life, eternal life, is for all who will obey God's law. . . .  {AG 136.5} 

        The conditions of salvation for man are ordained of God. Self-abasement and cross-bearing are the provisions made for the repenting sinner to find comfort and peace. The thought that Jesus submitted to humiliation and sacrifice that man will never be called to endure, should hush every murmuring voice.  {MYP 108.2} This one is for preston!

        Or shall the righteous search the Scriptures, and know for themselves the conditions upon which the salvation of their souls depend? Those who make the Word of God the man of their counsel will esteem the law of God, and their appreciation of it will rise in proportion as it is set aside and despised.

         Could there be an excuse for disobedience, it would prove our heavenly Father unjust, in that he had given us conditions of salvation with which we could not comply.
                                                                                   297
         {LP 296.2} 

        #9 This one is easy Gal 2:17  Rom 2:13    Rom 3:4    Tit 3:6-7   Jam 2:24-25
        In ourselves we are sinners; but in Christ we are righteous. Having made us righteous through the imputed righteousness of Christ, God pronounces us just, and treats us as just… 'Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.'" (1SM 394) This statement is not in harmony with the current definitions of justification in the Christian world. It says that before God pronounces us just, He makes us righteous. Justification by faith is being made righteous. Current theology says that justification is being declared righteous, and making righteous comes later, in sanctification. Notice also that we are made righteous by the imputed righteousness of Christ. Imputed clearly means more than a legal declaration. Justification is making us righteous inwardly as well as declaring us righteous legally.

        • Preston Foster
          24 January 2013 @ 7:58 pm

          Tapiwa,

          I am always happy to respond to The Word (sola scriptura).

          Context is vital.  You have done what you have accused me of doing: using verses and leaving out others.  Let's look at the context of the verse you quote re: "doers of the law," in its full context:

           11 "For there is no partiality with God.  12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law 13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel. 17 Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, 18 and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, 19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. 21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? 24 For 'the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,' as it is written," Romans 2:11-24.

          It seems the verse immediately following the verse that you quoted (Romans 2:14) testifies to the power of the Spirit to lead Gentiles, who do not have the law.  Romans 2:17-24 speaks to the risk of one who leans on the law.  James 2:10 seems to hold great risk for those who seek justification by their lawkeeping: they better be perfect.

          The question for both of us seems to be this: how do you reconcile Romans 2:13 with Romans 3:20?  The same guy wrote them both.

          At least, for me, I will let Paul conclude his own conundrum, includes one of your favorite "law verses" (Romans 3:31):

          21 "But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in[h] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
           

          27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law," Romans 3:21-31. 

          Could it be that righteousness by faith upholds the law, not because of what we do, but because of FAITH IN THE ATONING BLOOD OF JESUS for our sins (the breaking of the law)?  Could it be that Christ's blood upholds the Father's law that says sin must be paid for by death?  Could it be that Chirst's death for our sins satisfies the requirements of the law?

          "3 For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. 4 For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given.  As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God," Romans 10:3-4 NLT.

          The Word speaks.

          The same guy, wrote all this stuff, as directed by Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11-12).

  82. Tapiwa Mushaninga
    24 January 2013 @ 3:23 pm

    Preston and Laffal

    Martin Luther and other reformers also believed justification had an inward working as well as declarative.
    here are some intersting excepts

     ".. this movement of justification is the work of God in us." (Luther's Works, Concordia Publishing House, Saint Louis, 1963, vol. 34, p. 177 [1536])

    "He therefore draws us into himself, and transforms us….It is thus in Romans 5, 'We are justified by faith.'" (LW, vol. 32, pp. 235-36 [1521])

    "Therefore the Christ who is grasped by faith and who lives in the heart is the true Christian righteousness, on account of which God counts us righteous and grants us eternal life." (LW, vol. 26, pp. 129-30 [1535])

    "But so far as justification is concerned, Christ and I must be so closely attached that He lives in me and I in Him….Faith must be taught correctly, namely, that by it you are so cemented to Christ that He and you are as one person, which cannot be separated….This faith couples Christ and me more intimately than a husband is coupled to his wife." (LW, vol. 26, pp. 167-68 [1535])

    "Then what does justify…the Holy Spirit who justifies." (LW, vol. 26, p. 208 [1535])

    "This faith justifies you; it will cause Christ to dwell, live, and reign in you." (LW, vol. 27, p. 172 [1519])

    At the beginning of his sermons on John 3, Luther said, "This chapter stresses above all else that sublime topic: faith in Christ, which alone justifies us before God." (LW, vol. 22, p. 275)

    John Calvin wrote, "Christ by justifying us becomes ours by an essential union, and…the essence of the divine nature is diffused into us." (Institutes of the Christian Religion, Eerdmans Pub. Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 1975, vol. 3, sect. 11, # 5)

  83. Tapiwa Mushaninga
    24 January 2013 @ 3:31 pm

    Preston and Laffal

    How did this misunderstanding of making righteous come about? Why do we have an erroneous picture of what the major reformers believed? Perhaps this might be the key. "In time, Lutherans began to draw an increasingly sharp distinction between the event of being declared righteous (justification), and the process of being made righteous (sanctification, regeneration)." (Raoul Dederen, Ministry, November, 2000) It was the followers of Luther that began to make a sharp distinction between being declared righteous and being made righteous.

    Another scholar says it even more plainly. "Luther's concept of justification, his concept of the presence of Christ within the believer…all were rejected or radically modified by those who followed him." (Alister McGrath, Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification, vol. 2, p. 32) McGrath describes specifically how this happened. Melanchthon promoted legal-only justification (Ibid., pp. 23-26). Martin Chemnitz defended Luther against Catholic attacks, and he followed Melanchthon's reasoning. Chemnitz said that there is no Scripture evidence for internalized righteousness. He said that "Christ in you" is figurative language, and we are counted as righteous even though we are not really righteous. (Ibid., p. 29). Orthodox Lutheranism came to follow Chemnitz on this issue and thus rejected Luther's position. (Ibid., pp. 44-45)

  84. Tapiwa Mushaninga
    24 January 2013 @ 3:38 pm

    Preston, Laffal and crew

    I is evedent that you doo not subscribe to the true protentants gospel as espoused by the reformers! I will Go with the Bible, Ellen White, Reformers and not your cheap revisionist view of the gospel!

    stay blessed

    • Anonymous
      25 January 2013 @ 5:27 pm

      I tend to agree, Tapiwa, that you have made a persuasive case that Protestant tradition, Scripture, and Ellen White seem to call for a more nuanced, balanced view of the relationship between faith and law than some comments on this blog are willing to concede. I think it is unfair to characterize those views as cheap or revisionist. But at some Adventist academic centers, Universal Salvation is all the rage, and it is very much the product of a mindset which holds that living in relationship with Christ, whose redemption we claim, is irrelevant to our salvation. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with "truth" which, with the best of intentions, nevertheless incentivizes indifference toward living saved lives submitted to a God who reveals Himself in moral principles as well as infinite, unconditional love.

      The contrary mindset reasons and proof-texts its way to "truth" which also holds salvation to be a free gift – accessible only through a "straight gate" and a "narrow way." I think both mindsets are wrong. The possibility of reasoning our way to one extreme or the other should lead us to seek the personal presence of The Holy Spirit in our lives to guide us, not to some elusive abstract formulation of truth or falsehood, but to a living Christ who cannot be confined to doctrinal formulations, who alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

      • Preston Foster
        26 January 2013 @ 1:58 am

        Tapiwa,

        Let me say, I am not offended by your disagreement with me.  As I said to you you earlier, I wrote this article to uncover the issues being raised now.

        What frustrates me (in the best sense) is that you, so often, "respond" to things I have not said and do not endorse.  Neither do the texts that I've offered imply what you've concluded.  I will try, once again to summarize, as simply as I can, what I believe the role of grace is and, also, our relationship to the law, relative to that.  Nathan, the redundance and lack of originality is purposeful.  Here goes:

        – We are saved (justified) by righteousness by faith, alone (Romans 3:21-26).
        – Righteousness is imputed to us by Christ who lived as perfect live for us, satisfying (fulfilling) God's holy law (Romans 4:21-25; Romans 8:4).
        – The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).
        – Christ paid the penalty of our sins on the Cross, reconciling us with The Father (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).
        – The purpose of the law (Old Covenant 10 Commandments) is to make us aware of our sinfulness (Galatians 3:19-25.
        – The New Covenant makes the Old Covenant obsolete (Hebrews 8:13).  
        -Under the New Covenant we are to be led by the Holy Spirit, not the Old Covenant law (2 Corinthians 3:3-11).
        – Christ is the end of the law for all that believe (Romans 10:4).
        – The Holy Spirit will not lead us in conflict with the law, but beyond it to more glorious and fruitful lives (2 Corinthians 3:7-11; Galatians 5:16-17).
        – If we are led by the Spirit, we are not under the law (Galatians 5:18).
        – If we are in Christ we will not live lawless, flesh-driven lives (Galatians 5:24-25).
        – The Holy Spirit is God Himself.  He cannot lead us contrary to the law.  He is superior to the law.  He is (1 John 5:6-11; Galatians 5:17).
        – God gave the law through Moses. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).
        – Christ is our righteousness.  We are sanctified by Him (1 Corinthians 1:30. Philippans 3:9; Hebrews 10:10).
        – Being led by the Spirit and lawlessness are not compatible and is not possible (Galatians 5:16-17).
        – If we are in Christ, HE will change us (2 Corinthans 5:17-19).
        – We have no righteous of our own (Romans 3:10).
        – We have the righteousness of Christ (Romans 3:22).
        – It is God's intent that we now be led by the Spirit rather than the law (Galatians 3:24-25).
        – Holding on to the law (after Christ's ascension) can lead to spiritual blindness (2 Corinthians 3:13-17) .
        – The New Covenant is superior to the Old Covenant (Hebrews 8:6).
        – 7th day Sabbath-keeping remains and is not dependent on the viability of the law, (Genesis 2:1-2; Hebrews 4:3-11).
        – It is not Christ who condemns us, but the law (John 3:17; John 5:45).
        – There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, (Romans 8:1-4) .
        – It has been predicted that those who embrace the law will tease those who embrace grace and freedom in Christ (Galatians 4:28-29).
        – Grace is superior to the law, (Galatians 3:15-22; Numbers 7:89; Exodus 25:22).

        All of this is hard to digest for those who "stiff-arm" grace, because it leaves no room for self or self-effort.  That's the way it should be.  It is all about Christ.  He deserves all the glory.

        Freedom in Christ and freedom to sin are a false construct — and a diversion from the gospel of grace.

        Grace is not about Christians "going soft" on sin; it is about recognizing how high a price HAS BEEN PAID to redeem us from its penalty (Romans 8:4). 

        – Our good works and obedience are to be motivated by love (John 14:15).
        – Christ's commandment was to love (John 13:34).
        – Faith is the work that God requires of us (John 6:28-29).
        – Our other good works are the fruit of conversion, not the means of it, (Galatians 5:22-23; Romans 3:20).

        If this sounds like "new-age" religion to you, it is.  It is the religion of the New Covenant.  Before you reject it out of hand, try read it without an agenda to justify the Old Covenant.  Try to HEAR it, before you seek to refute it.  Then tell me where you see any endorsement  of disobedience or lawlessness.  Look, instead, for grace.  It's already there.

         Peace

        • laffal
          26 January 2013 @ 4:59 am

          QED – Amen

        • Bill Garber
          26 January 2013 @ 5:57 am

          Preston,

          Your position is exceptionally well defended..  The flurry of texts is overwhelming.  And yet the flurry all too often induces a return volly.  And the back and forth continues with little advance.  I'm not surprised by your frustration.

          Claim a few texts and one never has to defend one's position rationally.  This is why I'm thinking that the conversation is advanced best by avoiding texts.  It is why a chapter is more useful than a verse, a story more helpful than a sentence, a thought more valuable than a word if we really want to come together and think openly.

          My comments to Nathan below are in that spirit.

          Like you said, instead of coming to the scripture with an opinion in search of support, listening to the writing is where illumination is most likely.  I've wondered if there would be value in publishing a bible with no chapter and verse rendering, just poems and narratives and teaching and letters all without chapter and verse overlay.  Try reading Revelation that way.  Amazing!  The Gospels too.  And the letters, start to finish, the whole of the letter all at once.  

          We are trying to converse about comprehensive topics.  Lets consider the topics comprehensively by being equally comprehensive in reading the scripture.  It will leave us conversing without so many quotes.  And in the process actually moving forward in our understanding, even if we do not come eye to eye … at least with so many fewer points, the chances are we will see each other more clearly, and trust each other more deeply.

          When you and I and Nathan see our selves in the same story, in the same need, the differences will most likely, especially the textual ones, lose their attraction as talking points on their own.

          • Preston Foster
            26 January 2013 @ 7:18 am

            Bill,

            My "target market," as I see it, is, to paraphrase Tocqueville, "instinctive legalists" — Christians who follow the law by tradition.  My assumption is that, as confirmed legalists (meaning those who are consciously led by the law), they are likely not swayed by progressive philosophy.  If fact, for most of their religious lives, they have been fortified to resist it.  So, as pedestrian as it may seem, I employ The Word — the only authority that a legalist should properly recognize as supreme.  If it results in a return volley of  texts — great!  The other "market" for this are those who have not examined these issues much, if at all.  For them, a stream of texts, framed by context, may engage them in further study.

            Although I may bore spiritual philosophers to tears (or, in Nathan's case, glaze him over with shallac-level texting), it is a price I am willing to pay.  My philosophies may fail.  The Word has its own power (via the Holy Spirit). I simply want people to search it out — in Scripture, for themselves, then decide. 

            Think of it as a localized "investigative judgment."

        • Stephen Foster
          26 January 2013 @ 7:47 am

          Tapiwa,
           
          I think I understand your perspective; and I know that Preston is not offended by your disagreements with his perspective.
           
          What I don’t think you are accepting is that, for those led by the Spirit, disobedience is convicting and not license. The law has no bearing on those who by faith are led by the Spirit to obedience; just as the civil law against murder has no bearing on those who would not consider killing people.

        • Tapiwa Mushaninga
          28 January 2013 @ 9:07 am

          Stephen Foster

          I agree with what you are saying where I am in disagreemnt is on basic definition of terms as put forth by preston such as:

          1. Justification
          2. new covenant
          3. atonement
          4. grace
          5. faith and works
          6. sinlessness

  85. Bill Garber
    25 January 2013 @ 11:55 pm

    Nathan,

    "I'm not sure I'm comfortable with "truth" which, with the best of intentions, nevertheless incentivizes indifference toward living saved lives submitted to a God who reveals Himself in moral principles as well as infinite, unconditional love."

    You are in good company with the youthful Ellen White who reported asking her mother what the incentive would be for a person living a holy life if there was no threat of everlasting hell.  Her mother wisely noted that God's love is vastly more compelling than the fear of living in everlasting hell.

    Vastly.

    Believing in universal salvation in no way can possibly incentize indifference toward living saved lives submitted to God. It is preposterous to imagine that a person who imbibes universal salvation by God's grace can possibly live in indifference to those around them.  Universal salvation based on the terms of God's grace is utterly immune from even considering withdrawing into some hedonic fantasy land of imagined freedom from God's law.

    Indeed, it can be compellingly argued that only under the terms of unviersal salvation can love for others be considered, let alone embraced.  Otherwise, one is inescapably isolated by their compelling need to engage in facilitating their own salvation. And people suffer as a result, bot the facilitator and those the ficilitator has withdrawn from.

    To love some one is to see one's self in the other at some deep and significant way.  The story of the so-called 'good' Smaritan is not the story of a person fulfilling the law of love, it is the story of two people blinded to the dying need of their spiritual compatriot by their own efforts to facilitate their own salvation, juxtaposed against two souls of deep and undying religious and ethnic differences and the utter inability of the Samaritan to turn away from one who, against all psychological and sociological odds was in verity himself.

    Jesus was utterly autobiographical in this story.  He simply could not turn away from humanity, but saw Him self in us and embraced us in our humanity in its totality, from birth to death.

    Jesus came to save the world, not to condem it but to save it.  Condemnation is the work of the law.  Salvation is the work of Grace and grace is grounded in identifying with, in God's case, his creation.

    Of course universal salvation is uncomfortable.  I wonder, though, if such discomfort is because of how compelling the obligations universal salvation put upon us all, with no fall back time out to tend to the works of the law.  

    Law abiding is freeing in an oddly selfish kind of way.

    Universal salvation is compelling in a loving kind of way.

    If, indeed, Christians are characterized by their love for one another, as Jesus declared in that 'new' 'commandment' he proffered the evening of his betrayal, then can it possibly be the result of embracing the Law?  Whether the 'new' commandment ment, 'in addition' or 'by way of summary' or 'replacement' is open for textual discussion.  But if the conversation is about the commandment Jesus declared to be 'new' then there is but one compelling interpretation.  

    Love is the end (as in the obliteration) of the law.

    When Jesus died, the Law died with him.

    • Stephen Foster
      26 January 2013 @ 6:17 am

      Bill,
       
      With all respect, in the final analysis, "universal salvation is uncomfortable" for only one reason; it has no Biblical basis.
       
      Jesus, Scripture, Paul, the New Testament, whatever, are replete with refutations of this theory.
       
      John 3:16-18 is abundantly clear on this. 

      • Anonymous
        26 January 2013 @ 7:11 am

        Very nicely and concisely stated, Stephen. You read the meaning of my "discomfort" to a tea. Thank you.

    • Anonymous
      26 January 2013 @ 6:41 am

      Bill – I appreciate your thoughtful defense of Universal Salvation. But you misunderstand the provenance of my discomfort with the doctrine. It is not that I don't like the idea. Quite the contrary. The siren call of a God who, in the end, forgives everything and saves everyone, including Lucifer; surgically excising evil from human hearts to protect the cosmos, whether they want it removed or not,  is really quite an appealing fantasy. Although trying to reconcile such a God with the persistence of evil and its consequences in human history does leave me scratching my head.

      I am uncomfortable with the doctrine of Universal Salvation for at least two reasons: 1) As it has been argued to me, and as I read your arguments, Bill, it seems to rely more on philosophical reflection and feel-good gospeldygook than on Biblical exegesis, requiring one to ignore or gloss over much of scripture which does not see God as the uber Santa Claus, sans a "naughty/nice" list. 2) It ignores human nature and experience, and defies common sense, to think that an unconditional guarantee of getting something for nothing makes people more loving, grateful, and generous.  

      I could engage in a proof-text snowball fight to underscore how a God of consequences and judgment permeates the Bible. But you know the texts, and it wouldn't convince you. I don't know how God is going to do it. I can't reconcile all the dichotomies, inconsistencies, and contradictions that emerge when one tries to abstract generalizations from the divine/human encounters revealed in scripture. But I do know that I serve and worship a God of infinite love, who is also a God of eternal judgment. I don't understand how He could be both. But I know that my inability to understand God's ways doesn't mean that those who think they can are right.

  86. Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
    26 January 2013 @ 6:41 am

    FB#19 states that 'the great principles of God's law are embodied in the Ten Commandments'.   These holy precepts given by God Himself to Moses are a concise revelation of His holy character and His holy law.  They are perfect as He is [Ps 19:7].  Jesus summarised these precepts further in [Matt 22:36-40] and also on occasion amplified them when he spoke specifically about the commandments in [Matt 5:27-28][Matt 4:10]; and then in [Matt 19:18, 19] we see Jesus list from the Ten Commandments those pertaining to our behaviour towards our fellow mankind.  He does not indicate that His commandments are negated or of no consequence in any way – and neither does Paul [Rom 3:31]. 

    How do we establish a law by faith which is no longer in effect? How does one obey God when there are no parameters governing what constitutes obedience and sin? Killing was wrong before Sinai when God was displeased with Cain; yet Grace was displayed when the law condemned him for killing his brother.   In fact Jesus regards keeping His commandments as test of our love towards Him [John 14:15] and in the next verse [John 14:16] He indicates that it is a precondition for receiving the Holy Spirit.  Furthermore, Christ exemplifies the Law of God and by His Righteousness obtained by perfect obedience to His Law, we are saved by faith.  His saving Grace has the capacity hardwired in it to change our lives and bring us into obedience by His power and through the indwelling Spirit: That is Sanctification.  The imputed and imparted Righteousness of Christ by faith are both conjoined – and complement each other in the work of Christ in us [Gal 2:20]. 

    [Exod 31:13] reveals that the Sabbath, for example, which is part of the Ten, is a sign of God’s Sanctifying power and Grace.   It is a law because it governs time, behaviour and relationship [Exod 20:8-11].  The old covenant at Sinai was in actual fact a formalised corporate version of the Promise made to Adam and Eve [Gen 3:15] which promised the Messiah.  That promise is fulfilled in the new covenant when Christ abrogated the Ceremonial Laws which pointed to him in type when He died on the Cross.   Note this: that there is no new law and old law – only old covenant and new covenant.  There is no old promise and new promise either.  Both Covenants were ratified by the ‘blood’: one in type and the other by Christ the Lamb who was for sinners slain [John 1:29].

    Therefore, FB#19 is correct in stating that the Ten Commandments are a universal expression and code of God’s requirements for ‘all’ mankind.  The Seventh-day Adventist Church as an organisation is spot on with this teaching.  It is in complete harmony with the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit is working in a mighty way all around the world in bringing God’s children from every nation, tongue and people into obedience in Christ Jesus: the Way, the Truth and the Life [John 14:6].

    • Preston Foster
      26 January 2013 @ 12:14 pm

      22oct1844,

      The Cross changed things.  A lot.

      As Christ fulfilled the law and became the sacrifice for our sins, in Him, sin (the noun) no longer has dominion (or authority) over us (Romans 6:14).  BTW, it is here where (one of many times) Paul says, explicitly (in the context of sin), we are not under law, but under grace. 

      That is HOW the law has been established, by faith.

      Our faith in Christ's blood being sufficient to pay for our sins establishes the justice of the Father's law.  Christ's resurrection is, in effect, the The Father's receipt of His Son's payment for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:17).  Christ's resurrection is literal proof that His grace is (more than) sufficient for our sins (Romans 5:19-20).

      Now a few questions:

      -How can one spiritually and logically live simultaneously under both the Old and New Covenants?

      -Does not 2 Corinthians 2 3:3-11 and Hebrews 8:13 speak directly and explicitly to the obsolesence of the Old Covenant?

      – Did not Christ Himself live under the Old Covenant as He came to fulfill the law perfectly?  Would not his pre-crucifixtion statements about the law apply to what had not yet been fulfilled by His death and resurrection (Matthew 5:17-18)?

      – Does not John 14:6 apply directly to what Christ's obedience to the law and His work on the Cross (and His resurrection) accomplished for us?  Does not this speak to His work of reconciliation — satisfying the Father's law for us, which allows us to boldly approach The Father (Hebrews 4:14-16; Ephesians 3:11-12)?

      – If there is no Old and New Covenant law, why does not the Old Covenant (still binding?) penalty breaking the Sabbath still apply (Exodus 31:13-17)?

      – If the Old Covenant law still applies to those in Christ, why are we, in the New Covenant, called not to Mt. Sinai (where the law was given, resulting in death), but, instead, to Mt. Zion, where grace and life flow (Hebrews 12:18-24)?

  87. Joe Erwin
    26 January 2013 @ 2:09 pm

    Wasn't the real message of Jesus that the extremely legalistic tradition common in Judaism presented a distorted concept of reality and God? And was it not his goal to put an end to that inaccurate notion? 

    Even so, people of the time (just like some of us now), were so steeped in the legalistic tradition that they could only understand rationalizations and stories about laws and condemnation. They (and maybe "we") had to be given some sort of legalistic scaffolding to try to accomodate the anti-legalistic message of Jesus. It seems that this sort of thing was done much more by his followers than by Jesus himself. His message was much simpler. Something more on the order of: "God loves you. You are not condemned. Believe it and be free." 

  88. Preston Foster
    26 January 2013 @ 2:11 pm

    Joe,

    You're probably right.

  89. Tapiwa Mushaninga
    28 January 2013 @ 9:03 am

    Moderator

    I would like to know exactly how my demeanor has been unchristian. If you felt I waas going overboard an personal e – mail would have sufficed but you posted on a public forum of my so called "unchristian behavior." It seems if someone is of a conservative ideology they get crucified for even small perceived misdemeanors. Preston said I am trying to live or subscribe to the old covenant which I believe is the bigggest insults one can give to a christian but he got a pass.

    I simple said Preston's gospel was revisionist from the reformers view which is a statement of fact not my oponion. I concluded that Preston"s view was cheap grace. You also have to understand that we are from different cultures hence our tones and style of writing will be different. Political correctness is a western contruct and I do not subscribe to some of its tenents as I believe the truth should be said plainly but with kindness.

    Your website is called adventists today but with your bias toward people of the theology that I subscribe to, it should be called

    "Liberal, western adventists today"

  90. Abishalom Goldberg
    28 July 2013 @ 6:57 am

    Well now we are getting into some good material here. I agree with the author on this one. He is right. 2Cor. 3:14-17 is some meaty material. It is very specific in identifing the law in question"Engraved on letters on stone.. " and contrasts the ministry that brings righteousness. It is very simple if you look at the law as a way for salvation or sanctification and not look at it as is it good or bad. Can the law change Charls Manson if he found it and tries to keep it? No. Can the Law curb a Christrians carnality? No. The Law was put into affect to convince the world that we are sinners with sinfull hearts. When the two men went to the temple one thought to justify himself and prayed about his obedience to the law but he was not justified the other beat his chest and would not even look into heaven and said I am not worthy (paraphrase).. and he went away justified. You would think that Jesus would be have been  happy with the teachers of the law but it was them that drew the most savere rebuke. "you white washed sepulchers,brood of vipers:" why? Because they did not agree with the law because the law says that all have sined  and no one is righteous no not one. Man can't keep the law and get good. We need a Savior. That is why the tax collectors and sinners were entering the kingdom ahead of the teachers of the law. Because they agread with the law that they were sinners. 
      Most everyone knows that you can't get saved by the law, But What about sanctification? "The covenant that brings righteousness" you would think that it would be the ten commandments right? But what 2Cor.3 say about the ministry that brings righteousness? It says that the ministry of the Spirit brings righteousness. and the ministry that brings death is the law. So we serv in a new way by the Spirit and not by the written code.
      What produces fruit in our lives? Is it the law? No. It is by the Sprit that we produce fruit. And God will judge us by our fruit. By their fruits you will know them. Again we get fruit from walking in the Law of the Spirit. The new Law is what we will be judged by. Thats good news for us adventists that need law. Rom. 8 tells how (read the whole chapter) it explaines the difference between the Law of the Spirit and the Law of sin and death. It says that what the law was powerless to do anything in that it was weakened by the sinful nature …well you read it. 
    God is serious about this new Law. He says if sow to please the carnal nature you will die but if you by the Spirit put to death the misdeeds of the flesh you will live. Obedience is by is by taking up our cross daily and putting our will to death and let the Holy Spirit produce fruit in our lives. And then He will get the glory and not us. Christ within us the hope of glory. 
    The bottom line is the ten commandments are niether for salvation nor sanctification they are to hold all the world accountable before God as sinners and the wages of sin is death.