If Jesus is our Rest do we Still Need a Weekly Sabbath?

I was listening to a preacher on the radio talking about the Sabbath. He explained that the weekly Sabbath pointed us to the rest we have in Christ, so we no longer need the weekly Sabbath because we now have Jesus. He sounded sincere, and I really appreciated Him pointing people to Jesus and resting their faith in Him, since the grace of Jesus is the only way to be saved.

Photo by William Earnhardt

As a matter of fact the Sabbath is a sign that we are resting our faith in Jesus’ grace and not our works. God explicitly set aside that day as a sign of His covenant with His people – a sign that He sanctifies His people, in contrast to attempted sanctification by works. That’s why I find it ironic when people accuse me of trying to get to heaven by my own works by keeping the Sabbath.

The radio preacher was correct that the Sabbath pointed us to the rest we have in Christ. However, he apparently did not realize that the Sabbath is also a sign of God’s New Covenant in which He promises to write His law within our hearts:

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Jeremiah 31:33

Do you see that the New Covenant is the Lord’s promise to sanctify us? A promise to write His law in our hearts, so we would serve Him from the heart? And that’s exactly the meaning of sanctification of which the Sabbath is a sign. Sanctification means to make holy, and God wants to make us holy by writing His law in our hearts.

Some other things we need to consider:

Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.

And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. Genesis 2:1-3 NKJV

While the feast days and ceremonial Sabbaths, such as the Passover, were not instituted until sin came into the world, we have the weekly Sabbath made holy (sanctified) before there was sin and the need of a Savior. Paul says in Colossians 2:16-17 that the ceremonial feast Sabbaths were done away with at the cross. 2. Some people say we should still keep the feast days. They don’t seem to realize that we are literally living in what the feast days symbolized! We no longer need a ceremonial Passover because Jesus dying on the cross was the real Passover to which all the other Passovers pointed. We no longer keep the ceremonial Day of Atonement because, beginning in 1844 we are living in the real Day of Atonement. So those feast days that point us to the cross are done away with, but the Bible nowhere indicates that the weekly Sabbath was a “shadow of things to come.” The weekly Sabbath was there before our need of the cross, and the Bible tells us that it will still be there after the cross.

While Paul tells us the ceremonial Sabbaths were done away at the cross, He continued observing the weekly Sabbath.

And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks. Acts 18:4 NKJV

The weekly Sabbath was not a Jewish custom. He met with the Greeks also.

Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, Acts 17:2 NKJV

I have heard people argue that the only reason Paul was at the synagogue on Sabbath was because that’s the only day he could meet the Jews there to talk about Jesus. However, we just saw in Acts 18:4 that in the New Testament, Greeks were worshiping on Sabbath as well, and Paul was persuading them all about Jesus as they continued keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. In Acts 17:2 we see Sabbath keeping was still Paul’s own custom even after accepting Jesus. 

The Sabbath was not just made for the Jews. The gentiles were keeping the Sabbath as well. Jesus Himself said that the Sabbath was made for mankind, which included Jews and Gentiles alike.

The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Mark 2:27 NKJV

Nowhere does Jesus or anyone else in the Bible say the weekly Sabbath was made for Jews. Jesus says it was made for mankind. Not only was the Sabbath made for everyone, it will be kept by everyone even in the new earth.

And it shall come to pass That from one New Moon to another, And from one Sabbath to another, All flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the Lord. Isaiah 66:23 NKJV

The weekly Sabbath was instituted before sin and remains after the cross. The Sabbath was given to all “flesh” and “mankind.” “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.”-Hebrews 4:11.

Will you enter into the Sabbath rest that remains since the creation of the world? Will you keep God’s holy day as an outward sign of your inward faith in Christ as both your Creator and Redeemer? Let us remember that only sanctified people can really keep a sanctified day. So let us enter into that rest by letting Jesus be Lord in our lives.

See Exodus 31:13Ezekiel 20:1220 ↩
For more details see “THE SABBATH IN COLOSSIANS 2″ by Andy Nash. He references Ron DuPreez’s book, Judging the Sabbath: Discovering What Can’t Be Found in Colossians 2:16, which you can buy at Amazon.com. The book is particularly valuable in solving the question of whether or not faithful Sabbath keepers should also keep the feasts today. And here’s an article by Ron Dupreez: “No “rest” for the “Sabbath” of Colossians 2:16: A structural-syntactical- semantic study.” 

Jesus Died as me, as Well as for me

Posted on  by William Earnhardtavatar

While I was in Cradle Roll Sabbath School, before I could even read, I was mesmerized by a picture in my Bible of Jesus dying on the cross. I would study it in church as the preacher preached. As I took in the entire scene, one thought kept reverberating in my heart, Jesus died for me. One night when I was seven I put my Bible away to fall asleep. As I lay there contemplating that picture, the Holy Spirit was painting that very scene on my heart. That night I decided to give my heart to Jesus and be baptized because Jesus died for me.

This is the Bible and picture I would always love to look at as a child.

Over time the world and even people in the church have pressured me to compromise my faith and convictions. When they demand my loyalty to them, I remember that night when I gave my heart to Jesus. I remember the people pressuring me to compromise did not die for me. Jesus died for me. I must be loyal to Him. I gave my heart to Jesus. I did not give it to people in the world or in the church.

Way too many times over the years I have compromised my faith without any pressure from anyone else at all. Again my mind goes back to the picture of the cross that the Holy Spirit painted on my heart on that night so long ago. I don’t give up. Jesus died for me. I ask His forgiveness which He so freely offers me. I know I am forgiven because Jesus died for me.

I have completed many more trips around the sun since my Cradle Roll days and baptism when I was seven. Still, one theme still grips my heart and mesmerizes my soul. Jesus died for me. As time passes the Holy Spirit continues painting even more details into that picture of the cross. As I continue studying Scripture, the details become increasingly more vivid on my heart, making the scene more real, more wonderful and more awe-ful. While many want to attach specific theological labels to the cross, I find the picture of the cross the Holy Spirit is painting on my heart much too grand and vivid to fall under any one label. Many camps of thought are not so much wrong in what they teach as in what they fail to teach. One camp of thought does not necessarily have to replace the other. I believe we get the big picture of the cross when we put all the camps of thought together and just throw away the labels. After all, I did not fall in love with a theological label. I fell in love with Jesus because Jesus died for me.

The first time I heard the Gospel presentation I was taught that when I chose to knowingly break God’s law that was counted as sin according to 1 John 3:4. Sin is punishable by death, according to Romans 6:23. But John 3:16 tells me God gave His Son to die the death I deserve so I can have the eternal life He deserves. As I continue studying I find another definition for sin besides 1 John 3:4. In John 16:9 Jesus also defines unbelief as sin. Through my study I see that Jesus died not so much because humankind took a piece of fruit they were told not to, but because in taking that fruit they showed they did not trust God or really believe in His love. Therefore God became a man and went to the cross to die and prove that He loves us so we can believe in His love. Therefore Jesus heals us from the sin of unbelief. The atonement appeases an angry race instead of an angry God.

So which is it? Did Jesus die because humankind sinned by breaking the law which is punishable by death? Or did Jesus die because humankind stopped believing in God’s love and by dying on the cross Jesus reconciled us by convincing us He loves us? Both! Interestingly John records both definitions of sin-in 1 John 3:4 the sin of breaking the law, and in John 16:9 the sin of unbelief. John understood that Jesus died for sin by every definition.

I have heard that Jesus took on human nature so He could give us an example of human obedience. I have heard that Jesus took human nature because He had to die as a man. So which is it? Both!

The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. Romans 8:3-4 NLT

There is not a law in this universe that will allow someone to die for someone else. I can’t go to a murder trial and offer to die for the defendant so that he can go free. They won’t allow that. God can’t allow it either. So what was God’s solution? Jesus took my human body to the cross and died not just for me but as me. Not only is my sanctification dependent on the humanity of Jesus, my justification is dependent on it as well.

Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Hebrews 2:14-17 NLT

Jesus had to become us and die as us. This is why Paul describes Jesus dying as us as well as dying for us. Where we all sinned when we were in Adam we have now all lived a righteous life in Christ.

Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. Romans 5:18 NLT

Also as I sinned in Adam I have now been crucified with Christ. Take a look at how these verses describe us dying with Jesus and not just Jesus dying for me.

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 NLT

Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. Romans 6:3-7 NLT

Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.2 Corinthians 5:14 NLT

Where I sinned in Adam I have now been crucified with Christ. He took my flesh to the cross and crucified it. That is my justification. The good news is it does not stop there. Jesus also took on humanity and died so we can be sanctified and have victorious lives. Consider how these passages describe the victory Christ gives us by taking on humanity. Lets go back to where we began at Hebrews 2.

Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested. Hebrews 2:18 NLT

He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. 1 Peter 2:24

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT

The atonement was not only possible because of Jesus’ complete humanity but also because of his complete divinity.

The broken law of God demanded the life of the sinner. In all the universe there was but one who could, in behalf of man, satisfy its claims. Since the divine law is as sacred as God Himself, only one equal with God could make atonement for its transgression. None but Christ could redeem fallen man from the curse of the law and bring him again into harmony with Heaven. Christ would take upon Himself the guilt and shame of sin—sin so offensive to a holy God that it must separate the Father and His Son. Christ would reach to the depths of misery to rescue the ruined race. –Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, Page 63.

Did Jesus make an atonement as fully man or fully God? Both. Did Jesus die to free us from the power of sin or the penalty of sin? Both. Did Jesus die because of the sin of breaking God’s law or the sin of unbelief? Both. I have learned so much more about the cross since my early childhood days. But I am still not in any one theological camp or label. When I am tempted I look at the picture of the cross the Holy Spirit has painted on my heart. His love empowers me to overcome as I remember Jesus died for me. When I make stupid decisions and fall into sin I look to the cross and know I can find forgiveness because Jesus died for me. I am reconciled to God and can believe in His love because Jesus died for me. God made an atonement for my sin and transgression of the law when Jesus died for me.

Many years since my Cradle Roll days, I have experienced hundreds of victories – victories I never imagined possible. But before you pat me on the back, I confess that I have also suffered a multitude of defeats that I never would have imagined possible when I first gave my heart to Jesus at the tender age of seven. Sin has brought me lower than I ever comprehended possible, and Jesus has raised me higher than I ever comprehended possible. I have found theological theories and labels get me nowhere. When I need forgiveness or power to overcome, I do what I have been doing since Cradle Roll. I look at the cross and remember, Jesus died for me.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

God’s One and Only Son

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NLT

The Adventist Biblical Research Institute agrees with the modern translations of “one and only” instead of  “only begotten.” Hebrews 1:1-14 make it clear that Jesus was God. He was not given life, He is the life giver.

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. John 11:25 NLT

Just as 1 John 4:8 does not tell us that God has love but rather is love, so Jesus does not say that He was given life, but rather that He is life. 

In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived. -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 530.

While Hebrews 2:1-18 explains the complete humanity of the Son of God, Hebrews 1:1-14 explains the complete divinity of the Son of God. While Jesus is God the Son, who never originated but always existed as far back as eternity goes, Ty Gibson suggests in His book, The Sonship of Christ, that while He was always God the Son, that the term “Son of God’ explains His humanity more than His divinity. For example, Adam was the first one who was called the son of God.

Adam was the son of God. Luke 3:38 NLT 

Abel was born before his father only because his father was never born! Adam was created to be the son of God and to be the representative for this earth. Job 1:6 talks about when the “sons of God” came to present themselves before God. Adam was to be this earth’s representative as the son of God for this earth. However we read where Satan shows up at this meeting, as Adam surrendered this right to Satan when he sinned. So here we see Adam was the son of God and there are other sons of God representing their worlds. By the way Hebrews 1:2 mentions that Christ made the worlds. The word “worlds” refers to inhabited planets, while uninhabited planets are simply called planets. In Job 1:6 the sons of God came from these other worlds. 

So in John 3:16 Where it says, “only begotten Son” or “one and only son” it is not referring to God the son ever being born. Neither is it saying that there are not other sons of God, because we have just seen that there are. So what does it mean by “one and only son?” Hebrews  11 gives us a clue.

Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, Hebrews 11:17 NLT 

Wait a minute? Was Isaac Abraham’s only son? No! So why is this saying that Isaac was Abraham’s only son? 

The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave wife and one from his freeborn wife. The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise. Galatians 4:22-23 NLT 

Isaac was called Abraham’s only son because Isaac was the promised son. Now we know why John 3:16 says He gave His only begotten or one and only son. It is not insinuating that God the Son was ever created or given life by the Father. Christ had life that came from being God Himself. His life was original, unborrowed and underived.  The term “Only begotten” or “one and only Son” means that Jesus Christ is the promised son to redeem mankind and take the right that Adam surrendered in being the representative of the world. 

Adam was the original son of God, who because of sin surrendered the right to represent this world before God. Meanwhile Satan claimed that right and in Job 1:6-11 accused the inhabitants of the earth. But Jesus, the promised One, lived a perfect life and died our death on the cross, and has now won the right to represent us before the Father. Instead of accusing us He is representing and defending us! 

 He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. Hebrews 9:24 NLT 

Since Jesus Christ is the promised Son to replace Adam as our representative, not only is He representing us and defending us, saving and redeeming us, but we are also already seated in heaven with Him!

For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6 NLT 

Submission Over Ambition

Posted on  by William Earnhardtavatar

As I plan for 2022, I realize God does not need me to dream and make plans as much as He just needs me to surrender my dreams and submit to His plans. I need to allow God to take my life in 2022 and do whatever He pleases with me, in order to prepare the way for His kingdom. For Elijah, that meant being taken up into heaven in a flaming chariot. For John the Baptist that meant being beheaded and dying alone in prison. I need to give God permission in 2022 to use me like Elijah or John the Baptist – whichever way will bring Him the most glory. John the Baptist was just as precious to Jesus as was Elijah. God did not favor Elijah in the flaming chariot any more than He favored John the Baptist when he was beheaded. They were both just as precious to God, and both were just as successful in bringing glory to God. 

Some of us wish for a better lot in life in 2022 than we had in recent years. Some of us wish for better jobs and positions. Some of us are unhappy where we are, but that does not mean that God is using us any less. A young friend of mine at church recently got her first job. A few weeks later I asked her how her job was going, and she told me she was going to quit because her boss aggravated her. I told her no matter where she worked for the rest of her life, she will most likely always have a boss that aggravates her, so she should just get used to it. She is not alone. Many have ambitious hopes for 2022 and dream of some kind of a promotion. However, worthwhile promotions don’t come from our selfish ambitions.

True promotion comes from God.

For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. Psalms 75:6-7 KJV  

I believe the book, Ministry of Healing has some wise counsel for us regarding our life work. 

Many are dissatisfied with their lifework. It may be that their surroundings are uncongenial; their time is occupied with commonplace work, when they think themselves capable of higher responsibilities; often their efforts seem to them to be unappreciated or fruitless; their future is uncertain.  Let us remember that while the work we have to do may not be our choice, it is to be accepted as God’s choice for us. Whether pleasing or unpleasing, we are to do the duty that lies nearest. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” Ecclesiastes 9:10.  If the Lord desires us to bear a message to Nineveh, it will not be as pleasing to Him for us to go to Joppa or to Capernaum. He has reasons for sending us to the place toward which our feet have been directed. At that very place there may be someone in need of the help we can give. He who sent Philip to the Ethiopian councilor, Peter to the Roman centurion, and the little Israelitish maiden to the help of Naaman, the Syrian captain, sends men and women and youth today as His representatives to those in need of divine help and guidance. -Ellen White, Ministry of Healing, pages 472-473.

A son of a friend of mine was pitching in the minor leagues, and he, along with the rest of us, had dreams of him pitching in the World Series one day. I was hoping to see him pitch in a world series game here at Tropicana Field, either for or against the Tampa Bay Rays. He made it to Triple A, but before making it to the majors, an injury set him back and he had to retire from baseball without ever fulfilling his ambition to pitch in the majors. After baseball he became a police officer. Sadly, one night he was called to the scene of a suicide. The family was very distraught. The friend’s son spoke words of hope and comfort to them. Later the family wrote a thank-you letter to the police department thanking the officer for being there for them and bringing them hope and comfort in their darkest hour. When my friend told me about the letter her son received, I told her that was worth more than a hundred world series championship rings. 

It was not John the Baptist’s dream to be beheaded in prison, but he prepared the way for God’s kingdom more  than anyone else could.

It was not the ambition of a young maiden to be a slave in a foreign country, but it was there that she led Naaman to God. 

It was my friend’s son’s ambition to pitch in the major leagues, but it was while working as a police officer that he helped a family when they needed help the most. He could not have helped them like that while  celebrating a world series victory on the baseball diamond. 

Are you willing to surrender your ambitions and submit your life to God in 2022? Are you willing to let him use you in 2022 any which way that will glorify Him? Whether it’s like Elijah in a flaming chariot or John the Baptist dying alone in prison? 

But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Mark 10:42-45

Church Leaders and False Authority

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Deuteronomy 10:17-18 NKJV

Monday’s section of this week’s lesson describes what is meant in Deuteronomy where it says God is no respecter of persons.

The phrase “shows no partiality” is translated from a Hebrew figure of speech; it means literally that He does not “lift up faces.” This is believed to have come from a legal setting in which the judge or king sees the face of the person on trial and, based on that person’s status (important person or someone insignificant), the judge or king renders a verdict. The implication here in Deuteronomy is that the Lord doesn’t treat people in such a manner, despite His great power and might. He’s fair with everyone, regardless of their status. This truth, of course, was revealed in the life of Jesus and how He treated even the most despised in society. –Sabbath School Quarterly Week 12 Monday’s lesson.

In an interview with David Frost, Richard Nixon, a former United States President, forced to resign due to a scandal, defended himself by saying, “If the President does it, then it is not illegal.” This bold statement shocked David Frost, and every other competent thinker! I believe, in the United States, people really started to question their leaders after Nixon’s downfall. I believe we keep a healthy balance of respect for leadership, without blind submission, when we ask for accountability and checks and balances. In the United States we have a constitution the President must hold to. The Constitution also declares who ultimately has the authority. It reads, “We the people.” Not “me the president” or “me Thomas Jefferson, or James Madison, or Ronald Regan or Barak Obama.” The power and authority of the constitution comes from ‘The People!” Therefore our president is not above the law. To expect people to automatically obey you no matter what just because of your title or position is a false sense of authority. 

In the church we have the Scriptures as our sole authority, and our leaders must be held accountable. Good honest pastors recognize this. Having served many years as a Bible worker and lay pastor I have worked with many pastors. They do not think they are above me because of their position or college degree. If we disagree they do not automatically assume they are right because of their position. If they feel I need corrected they do not reference their position or degree. They reference Scripture alone. If I disagree with them they listen with an open mind. If I correct them from Scripture they bow, not to me but to the Scriptures. 

Just like in the United States, the President is not above the people, likewise church leaders are not above the church.

“The church is built upon Christ as its foundation; it is to obey Christ as its head. It is not to depend upon man, or be controlled by man. Many claim that a position of trust in the church gives them authority to dictate what other men shall believe and what they shall do. This claim God does not sanction. …. Upon no finite being can we depend for guidance. The Rock of faith is the living presence of Christ in the church. Upon this the weakest may depend, and those who think themselves the strongest will prove to be the weakest, unless they make Christ their efficiency. “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm.” The Lord “is the Rock, His work is perfect.” “Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.” Jeremiah 17:5Deuteronomy 32:4Psalm 2:12.- Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 414.

Many years ago, I heard the testimony of a church leader, defending himself for some shady deals, saying his boss, the conference president, told him to do it, therefore he had no choice but to obey his boss who had “authority.” I am sure Joab was thinking the same thing when King David told him to put Uriah on the front lines of the war. Please read what God’s messenger has to say about Joab’s rationale.

“And Joab, whose allegiance had been given to the king rather than to God, transgressed God’s law because the king commanded it. David’s power had been given him by God, but to be exercised only in harmony with the divine law. When he commanded that which was contrary to God’s law, it became sin to obey. “The powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1), but we are not to obey them contrary to God’s law. The apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians, sets forth the principle by which we should be governed. He says, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1. –Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, Page 719.

We need to be respectful of authority, but remember where authority ultimately comes from. And while respecting those in leadership, and even being in leadership, we must remember we are accountable to the Scriptures and God’s church, of which Christ is the Head. 

I have seen so called “mediation” sessions between pastors and lay members which actually had nothing to do with mediation. the mediators were not seeking justice. They were ganging up on the abused lay member. They were solely there to protect the pastor regardless if he was right or wrong. He was the pastor and that was all that mattered. I even heard an associate pastor tell me once that the pastor is right simply because he is the pastor. To question him or to hold him accountable would be an act of deepest disrespect. Sorry, but claiming a pastor is always right simply because he is the pastor is a false sense of authority. God is no respecter of persons and would never fall for such a lie, and God does not expect you to fall for it either. 

Years ago, in another conference the church board overwhelmingly voted against the pastor using all of the church’s worthy student fund to pay for his own child’s church school tuition. The following Sabbath guess what the pastor’s sermon was about? “pastoral authority!” And how disrespectful it was, even sinful to the point of losing your soul’s salvation if you were to ever disobey the pastor or not give him what he demands. Sure, the pastor twisted Scripture to his own destruction to prove his point, just like Satan twisted Scripture when he told Jesus to jump off a cliff. I hope I don’t need to tell you this, but the pastor had a false sense of authority.  Sadly some fell for it. 

While the Bible teaches us to be respectful, nowhere does Scripture ever tell us a leader is above the law. Nowhere in Scripture does it tell us a leader has special privileges and should never be questioned or held accountable. Nowhere does the Bible teach us that a pastor is right just because he is the pastor. On the contrary the Bible teaches us in Deuteronomy  10:17-18 as well as all throughout Scripture, that God is no respecter of a person’s title or position.

As a matter of fact, instead of giving pastors and teachers a free pass in the judgment, based solely on their position, James says,

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. James 3:1 NKJV 

To me, that sounds like anything but preferential treatment for pastors and teachers. James goes on to say,

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. James 3:17 NKJV 

Let’s stop supporting false authority in the church. 

but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. James 2:9 NKJV

Hebrews: The 5th Gospel

I believe the  book of Hebrews should definitely be considered with the other four gospels. It is a continuation of the Life of Jesus. It gets us up to date on what Jesus is currently doing. Jesus did not just ride off in the sunset after the resurrection. He is actively changing lives, healing and forgiving just like when He walked the earth. So I like to call the book of Hebrews the fifth gospel, right after Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Hebrews was written for two reasons.

1.To turn people’s attention to Jesus’ ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. This book, written just 4 or 5 years before the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, was meant to turn the heads of people away from the earthly sanctuary. Even today people in Israel weep for the old sanctuary to be rebuilt. Instead they should be looking at Jesus and where He is today. They should put their hope in Jesus and not a man made temple. Just as the book of Hebrews directed people to put their hope in contemplating Jesus instead of a temple that was soon to collapse, so today Hebrews encourages us to put our hope in Jesus instead of a social security system that is about to collapse or a stock market that may soon crumble and fall.

2.To encourage people’s faith that Jesus is the Messiah and will return. The new Christian believers were expecting Jesus to return right away, and many, especially in the face of persecution were losing faith when He did not come back right away. Hebrews 1 points out that Jesus was God. Hebrews 2 points out that this God did indeed become a man just like us. In Hebrews 3 and on, it points us to what Jesus is currently doing as our High Priest before He returns.

Here is a brief summary:

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Hebrews 1:1-2

This same Jesus who came to earth and died, is also God. He made the worlds! Many were beginning to doubt if He was the Messiah since He did not come right back. Shall we look for another? No. Jesus was God.

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on [him the nature of] angels; but he took on [him] the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto [his] brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things [pertaining] to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. Hebrews 2:14-18

This same Jesus who is God also became a man just like us.

Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Hebrews 3:1

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast [our] profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25

This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Hebrews 10:16-17

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. Hebrews 12:1-4

This same God who became a man is now our High Priest. Did you notice in Hebrews 7:25 that not only does He live as our intercessor, but it is the reason why He lives. We are the reason He came to earth. We are the reason He died and we are the reason He rose again. He is obsessed with us! He loves us! His whole universe revolves around us. Does your universe revolve around Him?

And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. Hebrews 3:5-6

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end. Hebrews 3:14

Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering; (for he [is] faithful that promised;)And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. Hebrews 10:23-26

Time and time again Hebrews encourages us to hold fast our profession and confidence, that Jesus is the Messiah and will return. Hebrews 10:26 is not telling us there is no forgiveness if we willfully make a mistake. Hebrews is talking about the sin of unbelief. That is what the whole book is about, affirming our belief, profession and confidence that Jesus is the Messiah and will return. The point being made is that if after all the evidence we have that Jesus is the Messiah, if we choose not to believe, there will not be another Messiah come who will make a sacrifice for sin. Jesus is that Messiah. He died for us. He is interceding for us now and will return. Don’t lose hope! Don’t lose confidence! Don’t lose your profession! Encourage each other more and more that Jesus is our savior as the day approaches when He will return!

So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. Hebrews 9:28

Do we Need Anymore Inspired Reminders Today?

“And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness,” Joel 2:28-31 NKJV

As I have been studying this week’s Sabbath School lesson on how the book of Deuteronomy is used throughout Scripture a few thoughts came to mind. 

  1. In Jeremiah 7:1-7 and Micah 6:1-8 Jeremiah and Micah seem to be borrowing from Deuteronomy and yet they are not referencing Moses or giving him credit. Of course back then people knew Scripture so well that it went without saying when Moses was being quoted. This was not considered plagiarism. Of course we know great portions of the New Testament quote, reference and borrow from the Old Testament. This leads me to my second thought.
  2.  In Acts 17:11 the people searched the Scriptures, obviously the Old Testament, to see if what Paul was preaching was true. Could it be that Paul and the other New Testament writers were the lesser lights in their day referencing or pointing to the greater light in the Old Testament? Were Jeremiah and Micah the lesser lights in their day pointing to the greater light in the books of Moses? If so, can one be a lesser light in his or her day but still be inspired by the same Holy Spirit who inspired Moses? This leads me to my third thought.
  3. If God raised up prophets like Jeremiah and Micah to remind people what was written in the books of Moses, could God raise up prophets in the last days to remind people of forgotten truths in Scripture? And if so…
  4. Then if the book of the law needed to be rediscovered in 2 Kings 22:1-20, what writings of inspiration may need to be rediscovered by the church of today? 

And now, your thoughts? 

PS for further study in the Bible on last day prophets click here.

God’s Kind of Repentance

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 2 Peter 3:9 NLT

What does repent mean? The American Sign Language sign for change is making the “c” sign and twisting your hands signaling a change. The sign for repentance is the same motion, but with the “R” sign. So when a deaf person (or hearing for that matter) sees the word “repentance,” they see “change.”

While God never sinned He demonstrated repentance when He changed what He had previously done. 

And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. Genesis 6:6-7 KJV

Jesus recognized Zachaeus’ salvation when he saw him change, and make things right with those he had cheated. 

Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; Luke 19:8-9 NKJV

 Judah gave my favorite demonstration of repentance. In Genesis 44:18-34 He basically tells Joseph, I have broken my father’s heart before, and I will die as a slave in a foreign land before I ever break his heart again. 

I saw a meme on Facebook the other day that I think says it best.

“Repentance is not when you cry. It is when you change.”

We can’t change ourselves.

Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil. Jeremiah 13:23

God can change us!

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

A while back I was convicted that I was drinking too many sodas. I prayed about it. I started drinking a lot more water, and then one day decided to “splurge” and have a Pepsi. That was a waste of $1.06, because after two sips it tasted so sickening sweet, I dumped the rest out and refilled the cup with water. God changed and converted my taste buds when I was totally powerless.

The repentant thief on the cross never actually said he was sorry (at least there is no record of it). He repented by changing his attitude and behavior towards Jesus.

He called Him Lord and professed his faith in Jesus and the resurrection, while everyone else was still mocking Him.

Jesus saw repentance in the thief when He saw a change in attitude and action. I hope He sees a change in us today.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.