Monday, September 11, 2017

LOVE FULFILLS THE SABBATH


In the above text, St. Paul is writing to the Romans (13:8-10) specifically about the Ten Commandments. This man, writing with the full authority of God, tells us that love fulfills the law. That if you act with charity towards your neighbor, you have fulfilled the law. 


St. John's writings support St. Paul's. 
The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. I John 2:10
 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, I John 3: 11
This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. I John 3:23
This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. John 3: 23 
And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. I John 4:21
[The commandment from the beginning] that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it. II John 1: 4-6
St. Peter wrote the same thing, "Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. I Peter 4:8

And St. John recorded the words of Christ about this. 
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34, 35
This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you… This I command you, that you love one another. John 15:12, 17

A few Christians are very proud of their protection of and obedience to the law--specifically the Ten Commandments, which is God's covenant with Israel. So when they read the above texts, so numerous within the New Covenant, they read it: Love means you keep the Ten Commandments.

Okay, Christians can absolutely see the logic in reading the scriptures in that light. However, there is another way of understanding the text. Most Christians throughout history believe that is a backwards way of understanding Christ and the Apostles. The vast majority, historically--well over 95%  Christians--have taken Christ's words to mean that the law was put in place in order to bring us to love. Once we have reached love, we have fulfilled the reason of the law and the law is no longer our master. 

When we act in love, the Ten Commandments disappear. 

I can hear many of those believe the Ten Commandments are the eternal law of God still binding on the Christian, respond with "So we can now kill, steal from, covet and commit adultery with our neighbors because we are no longer under the law?" They accuse other Christians of being rebellious towards the Ten Commandments and assume because they are no longer in the Old Covenant that these other false Christians are lawless. This is a profound misunderstanding of fellow Christians.

1) To say to a Christian, who is in a New Covenant relationship with Christ, that they are lawless is like saying to an American that because they are not under the Magna Carta they are lawless. No! The American protests his innocence to these charges. They are under the Constitution! 

While the Magna Carta is the foundation of the US Constitution, and they have many similarities in their reasoning and language, they are different laws for different people in a different time. When an American citizen is obedient to the 
Constitution it is not being rebellious to the Magna Carta. 

And this is exactly what some Seventh-day Adventists believe--that if Christians do not obey God's covenant laws with Israel, they are rebellious. They do not see the wonderful New Covenant in scriptures. The one that is based on the Old, but is new in the fact that it is opened up for the whole world (not just Israel) allowing all people to covenant with God through Christ and Christ's commandments (found in the New Covenant scriptures or the New Testament)


2) Within this understanding of the covenants, those who love and follow the law of Christ perceive all the above texts in a different light.

Now, instead of refraining from murdering, stealing from, coveting things of our brother, we have 
entered a new relationship with them. We now are in a covenant of love which means we are wanting the best for them. We are willing to sacrifice our desires and our needs to provide for them in need. Love is perfection and no law is needed within this perfection. 

So no matter how perfectly you keep the Ten Commandments, if they are not taking you to a point of loving your neighbor, you simply are NOT keeping them, no matter how devotedly you act in accordance with them. You have lost sight of the goal in running the race. In fact, when you run the race of keeping the Ten Commandments without understanding there is a finish line (in Christ and the New Covenant) you will continue running forever. Your Old Covenant race will never end. But Christ's Cross was where it was supposed to end! 

Specifically to my Seventh-day Adventist loved ones: Absolutely, it is hard to see the New Covenant of Christ when you were told the Ten Commandments were the entire, eternal law. You don't see the commandments of Christ on the Mount of Olives (Matt. 5).You don't see the importance of the fulfillment of the Old law in order to bring in the New. But at least do this, please understand that all other Christians do see this. They are not being hard-hearted or rebellious. They are not ever going to care if you worship on Sabbath. Truly. They are totally okay with anyone worshipping God on any day. What they can't understand is your insistence that Christians go back to the law of Israel, when they clearly read in scripture that they are under the New Covenant. The one that is about loving your neighbor as yourself and God above all. 

They live on the finish line with Christ and don't understand why you want them to go back into the race. Christ won! 

This is so difficult for Seventh-day Adventists to understand because they truly believe that if you don't go to church on the seventh-day of the week, you are lawless and rebellious, disobedient to God's law. 

However, if Adventist will look at the above texts, even if they disagree with other Christians and continue to believe Christians must keep the Sabbath, take heart. If one loves, God covers that sin. If one loves, then they have fulfilled the law.

Let me bring out one more point. Of all the Ten Commandments, which one is not self-evident? It is natural if one loves someone, they will honor them, they will not murder, steal from, covet and commit adultery with them. These are part of the natural law. If you love God, you will not commit idolatry or take His name in vain. But, what is strange about the Sabbath commandment is that, while it may be self-evident that man needs a day of rest, it is certainly not in any way natural to make that the seventh-day. 

This is because the Sabbath does something beyond natural, self-evident laws. It alone is arbitrary about which day one rests. Why? Why is that? 

Even many of the Jews knew that the Sabbath was prophetic. It was a rest for them awaiting the rest in the Messiah. Then when Christ came with the New Covenant commandments, Christ became our rest. "Come unto me," Jesus said on the Sabbath, "and I will give you rest."

Now, anyone who loves, is keeping the Sabbath. Look at the texts above. It could not be more obvious and plain to most Christians: Love fulfills the Sabbath (law). 

Anyone who loves, dear sabbatarians, is keeping the sabbath. Even if they are sitting in church on Sunday, because they love... they are, in God's eyes, not only not sinning, but they are keeping the law. Because they love. And that's what it is all about. 




Saturday, September 9, 2017

I AM BACK!!

Whew!!

My computer died suddenly--with all my automatic passwords gone. And for weeks I have been unable to come to this blog because I forgot my password. So I am now back. I am so sorry for not being able to post the comments you have sent me. I hope you will understand.

Teresa Beem