Thank you for your letter. I am pleased to learn that you found the little book, Warning! Revelation is about to be Fulfilled, helpful and informative. I understand your objections to my assertion that God requires all mankind to rest from their labors on His seventh day Sabbath.
I read the attachment that you kindly offered—written by the late C.I. Scofield (1843-1921)—explaining how grace nullifies mankind’s obligation to observe God’s law in general and His Sabbath in particular. As I wrote in the book, I believe the Ten Commandments are obligatory, but not for the purpose of salvation. Said another way, I believe tax laws are obligatory, but not for the purpose of citizenship.
I understand from your letter that you are 95% convinced that God’s grace has made God’s Sabbath rest obsolete. Since there appears to be a small opening in your thinking, may I exploit this opening with a few thoughts for your consideration? To be frank, I think Scofield overlooked a simple, but profound fact in his article.
The Bible teaches that where there is no law, there is no penalty and no need for grace. (Romans 4:15; 5:13) Grace only becomes necessary after a transgression occurs. The purpose of grace is to escape the penalty which a violated law demands. Grace does not nullify a law. To nullify a law, it must be rescinded, and once rescinded, there is no penalty and no need of grace.
A few years ago I was conducting a seminar in Texas. One morning, I was driving on a county road, and as I entered a long curve, I crossed over the yellow line. I was driving about 35 miles per hour and I could see that no other cars were oncoming for half a mile. Because I often drive a large truck, making wide turns is customary.
I didn’t realize my transgression until a police officer on a motorcycle pulled me over. I asked what I had done wrong and he told me. He then handed me a ticket for $200 and told me to stay on the right side of the yellow line. I mention this experience because it perfectly illustrates the topic at hand. There is a traffic law in Texas that forbids crossing over a yellow line, there was a violation (I crossed over the yellow line), there was a $200 penalty, and I suddenly found myself in need of grace.
Before I went to City Hall to pay the ticket, I learned that the city of Round Rock was short on revenue, and not surprisingly, there was no grace for my sin. I had to pay the penalty in full. Even if I had found grace, it would not have eliminated “the yellow-line law” because grace is limited to offsetting the penalty of a law.
Scofield and many scholars since him have incorrectly concluded that God’s grace eliminates God’s laws. This is not the case. When God rescinds a law (as in the law of Moses), there is no further violation of that law because it does not exist anymore. More importantly, there is no need for grace from a penalty that no longer exists. Therefore, the need for grace indicates the presence of a penalty and a penalty indicates the presence of a law.
As you know, Robert, many Christians do not separate the laws of Moses from the Ten Commandments. They lump the laws together and abolish all of them at the cross. They improperly use Colossians 2:11–17 and Ephesians 2:14–15 to support the idea that God has set mankind free from His laws.
Where there is no law, there is no transgression and where there is no transgression, there is no need for grace. When a person improperly uses a Bible text, he puts the Bible in a state of internal conflict. – God-s Word is not full of cancellations. In other words, the Bible does not say one thing and then cancel that statement by saying something else that is contradictory. On the surface, some verses appear to be in conflict with other verses, but this apparent conflict evaporates when the whole truth on a matter is discovered. Truth is proven by the harmony that comes from the sum of its parts.
Ironically, many Christians will say the Ten Commandments were abolished at the cross and then they will immediately do an about face. They will say that nine of the Ten Commandments are obligatory because “they are restated in the New Testament.” This foolish approach to the authority of the Ten Commandments hides a simple objective. It presumes to eliminate the obligation of the fourth commandment—even though Hebrews 4:4–10 specifically restates the necessity of observing God’s seventh day Sabbath.
Now that we have covered a few core issues, I have a question for you. For the sake of discussion, let us set aside the issues of law, penalty, and grace, and assume that Scofield is right in his conclusion that the Ten Commandments were abolished when Jesus died on the cross. With this thought in mind, please consider the following:
At the Seventh Trumpet
When the seventh trumpet sounds, a very unusual thing will take place. The book of Revelation says, “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the Ark of his Covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm.” (Revelation 11:19) Robert, why does God put the Ark of the Covenant on display at the seventh trumpet?
To appreciate the importance of the question, three facts need to be stated:
1. – Unlike the laws written by Moses, the Ten Commandments were inscribed on two tablets of stone by Gods own finger and they are called “the covenant” or “the testimony.” Consider these two texts: Moses said to Israel: “The Lord gave me two stone tablets inscribed by the finger of God.
On them were all the commandments the Lord proclaimed to you on the mountain out of the fire, on the day of the assembly. At the end of the forty days and forty nights, the Lord gave me the two stone tablets, the tablets of the Covenant.” (Deuteronomy 9:11, insertion and emphasis mine) “When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.” (Exodus 31:18)
2. – We find in Scripture that the Ten Commandments were placed in a special gold box called “the Ark of the Testimony” or “the Ark of the Covenant.”
“He [Moses] took the Testimony [the Ten Commandments] and placed it in the ark, attached the poles to the ark and put the atonement cover over it. Then he brought the ark into the tabernacle and hung the shielding curtain and shielded the Ark of the Testimony, as the Lord commanded him.” (Exodus 40:20–21, insertions and italics mine) When the Israelites entered Canaan, they were told to stay back about a half mile from the Ark of the Covenant. Joshua said, “[Follow the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant]Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about a thousand yards between you and the Ark [of the Covenant]; do not go near it. . . . See, the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of all the Earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. . . . Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the Ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea ) was completely cut off.
So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.” (Joshua 3:4, 11, 15-17, insertions and italics mine)
3. – Revelation 13:8 indicates that a great conflict over worship will occur during the Great Tribulation. The Bible predicts that all of the wicked will worship the beast, that is, the wicked will obey the laws of the beast. “All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life. . . [and] all who refused to worship the image [of the beast were] to be killed.“ (Revelation 13:8, 15, insertions and italics mine)
The biblical definition of worship is more inclusive than a religious meeting. Worship means obedient submission to God’s will. (John 4:23; Romans 12:1; Hebrews 11:7,8) For a stark contrast in what worship is and is not, please examine the story of Cain and Abel. (Genesis 4)
- God wrote the Ten Commandments on two tablets of stone with His own finger. The Ten Commandments are called “the covenant” or “the testimony.”
- The golden box containing God’s covenant or testimony was called “the Ark of the Covenant” or “the Ark of the Testimony.”
- The issue of obedient worship will separate the sheep (those obeying the laws of our Creator) from the goats (those obeying the laws of the beast) during the Great Tribulation.
Now that these facts have been reviewed, here again is the question: If the Ten Commandments were abolished (rescinded) at the cross and they are no longer obligatory, why does God open up the Heavenly temple and put the Ark of the Covenant on display at the seventh trumpet? Could it be that God wants to show a defiant world the ten laws they refused to obey, that is, the Sabbath they ridiculed, the Covenant they refused to accept?
Man did not devise the Ten Commandments. The Creator of the Universe descended upon Mt. Sinai to personally give mankind His laws. The Ten Commandments are changeless (they were written in stone by the finger of God) because they are based on divine wisdom and authority.
Obeying the commandments will bring many blessings, if we properly relate to them. On the other hand, if we reject the Ten Commandments, painful and unexpected consequences will be the result because they are the bedrock of happiness and well-being.
Bible history indicates that religious people become unhealthy when they improperly use the laws of God as a means to obtain salvation (legalism). The Jews deceived themselves into thinking they were righteous and special in Gods sight because they obeyed His laws. This toxic relationship with God’s laws is not limited to Jewish history. Church history indicates that Christians have also turned away from worshiping God by substituting traditions and manmade rules.
Many Christians have improperly defined and exalted grace. The result is lawlessness. Notice that the Jews obeyed the law (legalism) and Christians abolished the law (lawlessness). Both actions have accomplished the same result! Both groups of people participated in idolatry.
Idolatry occurs when the first commandment is broken. God’s law was not designed to save mankind and God’s grace was not designed to save mankind. On the contrary, the Ten Commandments were designed as a covenant and God’s grace is revealed by His willingness to forgive sinners.
The key to salvation is through faith in God. (Ephesians 2:8–9) According to Hebrews 11, faith is our willingness to go, to be, and to do all that God commands (law). Because we cannot perfectly do everything that God requires, God provides grace from the penalty for sin when we seek forgiveness. When He sees that we are doing our best to honor and glorify Him, He is pleased to extend grace—but His grace does not nullify His law!
Many people ask, “How are the Ten Commandments a covenant?” A covenant is a promise. The Ten Commandments are called “the covenant” because they are a promise. The Ten Commandments reveal how a born again person wants to live and what a born again person wants to do.
Because the power of sin lives within us (Romans 7:17), sinners cannot perfectly fulfill the demands of the Ten Commandments. Everyone has fallen short. (Romans 3:23) Of course, God understands the law of sin that operates within us and His grace is sufficient for all sinners who repent of wrong doing and put their faith in Him for salvation.
Grace “by no means” nullifies God’s covenant! (Romans 3:31; 6:15) Sinners can have a healthy, growing relationship with God if they will study His laws and depend on the Lord for transforming power. A healthy relationship with God and His laws refines and ennobles every sinner because “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting (changing) the soul.” (Psalm 19:7, insertion mine) And that is God’s promise.
Robert, my hope is that you will prayerfully consider what God’s Word has to say regarding this matter. Thank you again for your letter. May the Lord bless you in every possible way.