Servants' News

Jan/Feb 2001

Letters and Responses

We print a representative sampling of our mail—both positive and negative. We do not include names unless we are fairly sure that the writer would not object. To avoid any difficulty, writers should specify how much of their name and address they would like us to print.

This group of three letters from James Rich contains enough valuable subject matter to be an article. I hope you will read it and think about how Church of God brethren appear to others, and to the Eternal. — NSE

How Does the New CoG Believer Fit Into Old Ways?

Letter: January 15, 2001

Norman Edwards:

Thanks, I read many CoG publications and there is always several people who want them when I’m done, I’m blessed with many sources and ways of obtaining material and some people are not. I have been with the CGI [Church of God International] for about 15 months. My wife and I were baptized September of 2000. Some of the newsletters (monthlies) from some of the churches have a lot of uplifting articles. I receive the [Philadelphia] Trumpet, Tomorrow’s World, Good News, Servants’ News, Vision; church member-type publications like 21st century Watch, International News, LCoG Monthly; I print the monthly pubs from UCG and David Hulme’s group from the internet; plus offerings from the television programs.

As a child growing up my family never went to church but I was drawn to the Plain Truth and other WCG publications until I received an issue showing they had gone mainstream. For a few years I just felt betrayed by it all until I found out some groups left and kept the truth although there seem to be differences about how the church should be governed and other differences. I live within a reasonable driving distance of a CGI, LCG, UCG and Church of God Seventh Day, and for years I didn’t have a clue where to go to church until I discovered the Internet. Finally after collecting knowledge since I was 12 or 13, God drew me into a relationship and repentance.

Thanks,

— James Rich, jamesar@ipa.net

Response: Thank you very much for sharing your background. As you have discovered, many of the Church of God groups act as if they are the only or at least the main group that God is using and that membership in their group is important if one is to avoid the tribulation and be in the Millennial Kingdom. Yet it is so easy for those truth-seekers who are new to the CoG groups to see that each group has certain areas where they are teaching and serving, and that the groups would be a whole lot better off if they stopped trying to keep their members by exerting control and instead emphasized their service. It is no longer possible for Sabbatarian organizations to convince objective new believers that there is only one group “with the truth”.

— NSE

Letter: February 2, 1990

Yes, please do use my letter in Shelter magazine [probably means Servants’ News]. As long as you put the materials on your web site you will not need to send me new issues, I have downloaded and already printed most of your material, including back issues of Shelter and Servants’ News.

[Paragraph removed about living near SN original publication place, Springdale, Ark.]

The older issues are really interesting to me because I was never a member of WCG. Some of our members are still resentful of the Armstrongs (both) and of problems with the WCG. Some of them were disfellowshipped and I guess I don’t know how that feels.

About 20 years ago I requested a visit from WCG and finally two men came and talked with me. They didn’t stay long, didn’t say much and never contacted me again—maybe I was lucky.

The two doctrines that have been the most harmful to me in deciding to be baptised were tithing and much talk and finger pointing about “Laodiceans”. I struggled through thinking that if an end time group is called Laodicean and Christ will spew them out of his mouth and others say they will get the worst out of tribulation, then why bother?

On the tithing issue, my wife takes about nine different prescription drugs plus other diabetic supplies. We had been tithing for awhile and when the Feast came we were broke. We used a credit card. When we came back from the feast our oldest son was in jail for failure to pay a fine I never knew anything about. We borrowed money and got him out. Immediately after that our youngest son was suffering terribly with some bad teeth so we paid for 4 trips to the dentist but he is no longer our dependent he just couldn’t afford to go. At this point we had to get a loan to catch up and we haven’t done this for several years.

I know some older church members who tithe faithfully and need help to buy basic needs. What I do now is this. If I can tithe and pay all my bills, I do. If and when it will deny me a living, I pay less or none that week. Sometimes I use it to help a family emergency but I believe in any event God wants me to live like a human being should, after all how can you be a light to others—someone they would want to mimic—if you are bankrupt. I read your article about how we should give to the Eternal and it makes perfect sense. Giving should not be of necessity but because we want to, and we should not deny our own household.

— James Rich, jamesar@ipa.net

Response: I have prayed for your family that you may be delivered from the various troubles you mentioned.

I have spoken with several others who had contact with the WCG many years ago, but then either purposefully or accidentally avoided any more. Most now keep the Sabbath and other biblical doctrines, and are glad that they did avoid the WCG experience. I agree that the two doctrines you mention have been difficult for many believers.

I think it is a complete mistake for the “ministry” to demand tithes of people whose “gift” is not giving and who cannot afford it. Giving is listed as a “gift” and not everyone has it (Rom 12:8). On the other hand, I have met people who have a policy of giving only when they have money leftover—and they just never seem to have any left over—there is always something for which to spend it. Paul gives the answer in two short verses—we should set a plan (“purpose in our heart”) and then we should do it.

“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2Cor 9:6).

Many other verses tell us that we will be judged for all that we do in this life. Not providing for one’s own family is a sin (1Tim 5:8). On the other hand, many people spend more on their own entertainment than they do on serving God.

— NSE

 

Letter: March 1, 2001

Hi Norm,

Here’s something that might interest you. Yesterday I received the International News. In one of the articles concerning a trip made by Charles Groce and Benny Sharp to visit some of the congregations there were comments made about independent groups. Here is an excerpt:

“He commented that local church growth has been affected by the current trend of ‘independence’ evident all over the country. Although we understand the rationale for this freedom, its theological substantiation is at best weak. So many people appear to be susceptible to popular philosophies, which satisfy their personal needs rather than the Christian objective of doing what’s best for the body of Christ.”

Later on in the same article there is another attack:

“We talked about the requirements of
1 Timothy 3 and the evaluation process followed in the CGI. We discussed the errant trend of “dumbing down the ministry” that is particularly rampant in some breakaway groups. In particular, we talked about the self-serving practice by certain ministers of rewarding loyalty with ordination. We hear about this all the time—appointing men to the ministry even though they are involved in egregious public sins as adultery and drunkenness.”

I am presently fellowshipping with CGI but I attended the feast with two other groups. It saddens me because every group has a sly remark for another group or one of their leaders (not really the group but certain speakers within the groups). I noticed that the practice of visiting other groups or reading their material doesn’t appeal to many. Also I don’t see very many people who have been involved in a fellowship for many years who are eager to learn new truths, they are just sort of waiting it out. After learning a few truths some folks just quit looking and wait on new things from headquarters.

My wife and I were baptised last September and we have been with our group for about 16 months. It is disappointing because no new people are really coming in to our local congregation. When I repented and began to study the Bible it had nothing to do with any group at all. I was not involved with or reading anyone’s material, just the Holy Bible. I was able from that to make a decision about keeping the Sabbath and did for quite a while before I realized there was anywhere local to attend a service. It all began at home with God drawing me into a relationship and the learning process was well under way before I even found a congregation to meet with. The fact is I didn’t join a group to learn what to believe but just to fellowship, I am capable of teaching myself and others at this point, I always seem to find myself around people who have Bible questions. If I don’t know the answer I dig in to a study to find out.

One thing I might add is that I learn 20 times more at home than I do at services.

Your friend in Christ

— James A Rich, jamesar@ipa.net

Response: Thank you for expressing what is obvious to you, an outsider, but not so obvious to us long-time CoG members. Just during the last few years I have come to see what has happened. When we were unified in the WCG, we did go to a church group to learn what to believe (much truth and some error) and we had a clear mission: to tithe to support “the Work” and to obey God’s government (the church hierarchy).

After the WCG leaders reversed direction, many of us began to study the Bible like we had not done in years. We learned that the Bible does not require us to tithe or follow a human hierarchy. But we did not replace it with sound Bible teaching like this:

“Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross [stake] daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?’” (Luke 9:23–25)

I have visited many congregations and found some primarily interested in studying doctrine and some in just socializing—not denying themselves and doing Christ’s work on a daily basis. Christ talks about losing one’s life for His sake, but there are many who do not seem interested in losing some new gizmo for His sake. Praise the Eternal for some exceptions, but we need more!

To me, the obvious solution is that Church of God members need to get out among others to share what they know. They need to keep learning, too—there is a lot they could learn from other groups about how to serve and minister to various groups of people. CoG members tend to forget that Christ helped the hungry and sick before they accept his teaching. He helped thousands during His ministry but only had 120 disciples after it was over (Acts 1:15). Christ was only one Person, so He helped many people through miracles. The Body of Christ today has many people and the physical resources to help others without miracles.

I know a number of Sabbatarians who seem to facing the same dilemma that you are: They would like to attend a group that:

1. Meets on the Sabbath

2. Is not organizationally aligned

3. That is actively serving and teaching others

An independent Sabbatarian congregation fulfills # 1 & 2, an active corporate group may fulfill # 1 & 3, and an active non-denominational protestant church fulfills # 2 & 3. It is difficult to find a group that does them all. One usually ends up going to a group with two and trying to help the people see the third point.

May the Eternal strengthen all of us and help us to strengthen our brethren.

— NSE

 

Keeps SN in a Binder

Letter: February 2, 2001

Hello again,

We did finally receive our Sept./Oct. issue of Servants’ News yesterday. Thank you very much, and thank you for this publication. My husband puts each issue in our loose-leaf binder as soon as he gets it. Then he reads every article. He says it is the best overall information he receives. I don’t read as much as he does, but I also find the articles I read to be very helpful.

Sincerely with Christ’s love,

— J.L., California

Response: I am sorry that we are behind schedule and that the mail sometimes takes weeks.

Servants’ News was designed to be kept in a binder, and I am glad to hear that people do it. Many of the articles are not that time sensitive—they will be of value for a long time to come. We publish a new index about every year so that you can easily find articles in back issues. We hope to improve our web sites so that it is easy to find past articles there as well.

— NSE

 

Canonical Order of Bible

True Order and Divisions of the Bible

1. The Law (Torah)

Pentateuch (five books)
Genesis
Exodus
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy

2. The Prophets

Former Prophets
Joshua / Judges
Samuel / Kings

Latter Prophets—major
Isaiah
Jeremiah
Ezekiel

Latter Prophets—minor (The Twelve)
Hosea
Joel
Amos
Obadiah
Jonah
Micah
Nahum
Habakkuk
Zephaniah
Haggai
Zechariah
Malachi

3. The Writings

Former Poetic (meter books)
Psalms
Proverbs
Job

The Megillot (read at festivals)
Song of Solomon (Passover)
Ruth (Pentecost)
Lamentations (Ninth of Ab)
Ecclesiastes (Feast of Tabernacles)
Esther (Purim)

Later Restoration
Daniel
Ezra / Nehemiah
Chronicles

4. Gospels / Acts

Matthew
Mark
Luke
John
Acts

5. General Epistles

James
1 & 2 Peter
1, 2 & 3 John
Jude

6. Epistles of Paul

Church Epistles
Romans
1 & 2 Corinthians
Galatians
Ephesians
Philippians
Colossians
1 & 2 Thessalonians

General Epistle to Hebrews
Hebrews

Pastoral Epistles
1 & 2 Timothy
Titus
Philemon

7. Revelation

Revelation

Letter: March 16, 2001

Dear Norm:

It would be a good service to God’s people to do a research article on the original canonical order of the New Testament. I asked Dr Hoeh for info on this, and he said that he had it in some box in his second house, and who knows how long that would take to find.

But—good news—I found on Appendix 95 and 192 in the Companion Bible evidence that the original canon had a different order, as we have all known. What we have lacked are definitive sources of proof for this. I am now seeing that the Catholic Church did preserve the canon as far as what books to include in the New Testament, but messed up the order! Therefore, it would be great to show some definitive proof of this.

Bullinger comes close to hitting the nail on the head in paragraph 2 of his Appendix 192. It would be good to have further proof.

Yours for the truth

Graham Davies

Response: I think this question is well worth studying. I have read several things about it over many years—most have been in agreement with each other. The chart included was taken from one handed out at Ambassador college in the 1970s—its author is unknown.

A entire book on the subject is Restoring the Original Bible by Earnest L Martin ($23.95 from Associates for Scriptural Knowledge, PO Box 25000, Portland, OR 97225; tel: 503-292-4352, e-mail: askoffice@askelm.com, website: www.askelm.com). This book has a lot of quotes of second and third century history that would be hard to piece together elsewhere, but in places Dr Martin seems to have difficulty believing in a God that actually interferes with the affairs of mankind.

For example, Dr Martin’s efforts to determine the date of the authorship of the book of Revelation include many comparisons to what John wrote and the conditions existing at closing decades of the first century. Since Revelation 11:1–2 mentions the Temple, Dr Martin uses this as supporting evidence that the book was written before the Temple was destroyed in 70 a.d. Dr Martin seems to ignore the fact John was not deciding what to write, but was told what to write (Rev 1:11, 2:1, etc.) and that he was on the island of Patmos “in the spirit” (Rev 1:9–10), not in Jerusalem. There are many other such examples in the book. Nevertheless, I do believe that Dr Martin is trying to arrive at the truth as he understands it—he is not writing to please a denomination or to get rich.

An entire new Bible translation will soon be available in the “original order”. It is called The Original Bible Project, edited by Dr James Tabor, Professor of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In addition to retaining the original manuscript order, the goal of this translation is to provide the English-speaking reader with notes on alliteration, puns and word plays, idioms, rhythms, redundancies, and even obscurities that are usually lost in most translations. Dr Tabor and others working with Him are not writing to satisfy any particular denomination and I believe this will be one of the best study Bibles available.

The Original Bible project actively seeks input from serious Bible students. It is now being produced in a loose-leaf version and parts of the Bible will be mailed as they are completed. I have been on their mailing list almost since the project started. They will mail these items free of charge, but they obviously cost a lot to produce (much more than Servants’ News). I would not be doing them a favor if the publishing of this response brings them hundreds of more requests for their Bible segments but little additional support. I hope readers who contact them will help as they are able.

For information, contact Bob Elsworth at The Original Bible Project, 408 S. Pasadena Avenue Suite 1, Pasadena, CA 91105; 626-799-2000; e-mail: bobelat111@aol.com, website: www.centuryone.org/obp.html. The web site contains a lot more about the project.

— NSE

 

Sivan 6 on Saturday?

Letter: November 26, 2000

Servants’ News,

I have a quick, hopefully easy question. In one of the issues of Servants’ News, I would say at least 3 years or more ago I remember reading something about the Talmud saying something about Sivan 6 occurring on a Saturday. The point being made was that this indicated that postponements were not in effect at that time. Can you tell me what issue of the Servants’ News that was and what article that was in? I am interested in knowing where in the Talmud the quote was taken from.

Thank you for your work

— “rubyct” via the Internet

Response: I showed that the Talmud quotes show that the Day of Atonement sometimes fell on Friday which shows that postponements were not always in effect. That was covered in Servants’ News November 1996, page 23. (Talmud passages: Shabbath 1114b, footnote 16; Menachoth 100b, footnote 12; K’rithoth 19a, footnote 10).

I do not remember saying anything about Sivan 6 occurring on a Saturday. I did say that with an observed calendar, there would sometimes be two 29-day months and sometimes two 30-day months between Passover and Pentecost which would sometimes cause Pentecost (by the most common Jewish observation) to fall on either Sivan 5 or Sivan 7. Nevertheless, the most likely thing would be one 29-day month and one 30-day month which would result in a Sivan 6 Pentecost. Today, with the fixed Jewish Calendar, any Pentecost counted from the day after the First Day of Unleavened Bread will be on Sivan 6.

— NSE

 

Calendar from the Bible

Letter: November 5, 2000

[Quoting another letter:] Okay all you guys, I’m giving you a project. If all you have is the Bible—(and I’ll even let you have a Strong’s)—how would you put a calendar together from the Scriptures?—Construct a calendar for me—I wants lots of input! — Diana

Hi all!

Now that’s a good and the correct question regarding this matter! Y-e-e-a-a-h Diana!

All right guys, now it’s a group effort. No more 31 page speculations and theories, only the Bible! No more Jewish Rabbis and scientists, no more confirmation bias, belief bias, belief perseverance—let’s go to the Bible! The answer is there in God’s own Words!

I will be authoring my findings (in chronological order of progression of God’s calendar) then sending this info to those who are doing a serious study too. With this we can compare and refine so as to establish once and for all a Calendar of the Saints.

Excited? I am! God is trying to tell His people something here—to return to His Living Word, to return to His ways, to establish His truth, to return to “that faith once delivered”.

We need to establish a day of common communications—when to email our findings to each other—so that we all have a time frame for study and composition. Any suggestion? Sundays, Mondays?

Hope you have inspired and revealing studies…

A Servant,

— David W Lacey, dwlacey@earthlink.net

Response: May the Eternal bless you with wisdom and understanding in your studies. May He also bless you with peace if you end up disagreeing with those that study with you.

Most people I know who set out to study the calendar wanted to do exactly what Diana is suggesting: study it from the Bible. Most are seeking the truth in their study and would accept an answer that disagree with all Jews, Christians and Church of God groups. Yet these brethren who study rarely ever come up with the same answer. However, I think the “belief perseverance” factor that you mention is one of the major problems. Once people study something themselves for many hours, they tend not to want to admit that they could have studied all those hours and come to a wrong conclusion.

If you completely intend to ignore all Jewish Rabbis and scientists, your study may take many years. Part of the problem with calendars is related to the meaning of certain Hebrew words. Exactly what do moed (appointed time), chodesh (month or new moon), tequfah (solstice or equinox), abib (first month, green ears) and other critical words mean?

It is sometimes helpful to look to other Jewish documents to see how these words are used. But most ancient Jewish documents that we have were written and/or preserved by a Rabbi. I think Rabbis have done both good and bad things throughout history. If you plan to ignore every document touched by a rabbi, your search for accurate meanings of these important words may take a very long time.

If you intend to completely ignore all scientists, it will take some time to accurately observe and understand the motion of the moon and sun. Some have said, “if the Bible doesn’t explain it, we don’t need to know it.” You may not need this knowledge to come up with a calendar, but you will need it to determine if your calendar will work on a long-term basis.

I know one group that quickly constructed a calendar with twelve months per year, each month starting with a new moon. For a couple of years, the calendar seemed to work great—but the holy days kept occurring earlier each year in comparison with the seasons. After 8 years, Passover was in January. Science (and the Rabbis) tell us that the moon cycle is about 29½ days, so they could have predicted their year would be 29½ × 12 = 354 days. Science (and the Rabbis) also tell us that the earth goes around the sun about every 365¼ days, so this group could have seen that their year was 11¼ days shorter than the real year. After 8 years, Passover would predictably become 8 × 11¼ = 90 days earlier in the year.

Other groups have read that the waters began to come on the seventeenth day of the second month (Gen 7:11) and that the ground was dry by the seventeen day of the seventh month (Gen 8:4) and that that period was 150 days (Gen 7:24 and 8:3). From this, they conclude: 150 days divided by 5 months = 30 days in a month. These months do not match the moon cycles and 12 such months are still 5¼ days short of a full year. Is it possible to see five 30-day months in a row by observing the moon? Yes, but very complex science is involved if one wants to understand how.

Do we want to follow calendars that are “solely from the scripture” if they do not scientifically fit the observable universe? Do we want to join the Pope who proved from the Bible that the Earth was the center of the universe and ordered Galileo Galilei to reject what he had seen with his telescope with the scriptural command: “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?” (Acts 1:11). The God of the Bible is the God who made science. If our understanding of the Bible and science appear to disagree, we ought not to just throw one out, but check both and see if we can find our mistakes.

The part I find most difficult in calendar controversies is that they frequently follow this scenario:

1. A group of people has been meeting together on the holy days for many years.

2. Some of them rightly discover that the Jewish calendar has “postponements” in it that are not commanded in the Bible.

3. They are upset that Jews took it upon themselves to decide when is “Holy Time”, so they promise themselves that they will begin keeping the Holy Days at the correct times they are commanded in the Bible.

4. Individuals study the Bible and come up with what they believe is the “true biblical calendar”. Usually, they modify their conclusions several times.

5. Different individuals in the same group do not usually agree on the calendar, so only little parts of the group keeps the holy days together.

6. After a while, they conclude that the subject is complex and that some kind of decisions must be made in addition to what is clearly stated in the Bible. (What does one do when it is cloudy and they cannot see the moon? How far does the sun have to be set to officially count a new moon? How ripe does barley have to be to start a new year? Does the first day of the month or just the Holy Days have to be past the equinox? etc.) At this point, some members of the group may go back to the Jewish calendar, others may decide to cooperate with whatever the largest part does, some may look for another group all together.

7. Many go on to keep the calendar they have determined from the Scriptures, making the best decision they can in difficult areas. They believe God will honor their decisions. They are not the least bit concerned that they occasionally take it upon themselves to decide when “Holy Time” is (compare this with point 3 above).

8. The original group continues to observe the holy days on two or more different calendars and many eventually completely split up over the issue. Any new people that might come to the group wonder why they should keep the holy days when “nobody can agree when they are”.

Our paper, Biblical Calendar Basics explains a number of calendar ideas. I believe that there were many good reasons for creating the present fixed Jewish Calendar, but that it is not what the Eternal originally had in mind and will eventually be replaced by a more scripturally correct one. We have clear scriptural commands to assemble on the Holy Days, but there is no clearly accepted alternative to the Jewish Calendar. I choose to fulfill the clear command to assemble with other brethren.

— NSE

 

Start Year with Green Ears

Letter: February 24, 2001

[Someone sent this to SN via e-mail. It was apparently Pat Brady’s answer to someone who believes that the year should begin when barley ears are green.]

I have found a big hurdle to overcome in understanding why you believe the beginning of the biblical year is based on mature barley first then the light of the moon. Noah was first on the ark on the 17th day of the 2nd month in the given year. After reading the whole story months and days were identified (because they were mentioned in context we know they were thus determined). We have no reason to believe Noah did it wrong nor did God correct him so must believe that he did it correctly. Then on the first day of the first month of the next year (Gen 8:13) Noah removed the covering and the ground was dry (that where the ark was set). This was after about 14 days when the dove did not return. Noah stayed in the ark until the 27th day of the second month.

The point in this is that Noah still knew how to determine the first day of the first month of that year and in no way could have been able to verify it by ripened barley. Aside from the fact that barley is more or less a crop related to agriculture other biblical accounts mention months and days of months. We have to impute that these dates are accurate and were properly determined. Further we must ask “Did all those people use verification of ripened barley and thus determine it was the first month?” We know by history the months were given names and so on and the use of the term for the month is not the same use of the term for the grain.

If the visible new crescent is the authority with the 29 or 30 day count from day one to start looking for day one of the next month, then at best the barley recognition can be seen as tradition. We should be able to trace when it was thought to be first used and see if it evolved into becoming the authority through that tradition. The belief that the authority is “just make sure we are in the right season and [we will have] the correct first month” seems to overlook the facts and purpose created in the circuits of the Sun and Moon and the luminaries they shine on the Earth (Gen 1:14).

It’s interesting that the past few years I’ve been looking at this question it seems to my recollection in every case that the first new moon that occurred after the equinox (historical evidence shows the astronomical equinox has been relatively easy to determine) has always been in agreement with the ripened barley theory. This at least based on your reports. Gen 8:4 shows when the ark rested on the ground on mount Ararat which means it was not floating at the next vernal equinox. This means it could have been possible for him to use the light and shadows of reference points he made to determine by the light and shadows the first day of the year cycle or what is known to us as the astronomical equinox. We know the astronomical equinox is not the same as the day in which the amount of time of day and night are equal.

With this being said and knowing Noah could not have seen and verified ripened barley yet knew what month it was (he was in the ark until the 27th day of the 2nd month) shows by strong biblical evidence that visual verification is the authority over the ripened barley theory. Not only this we know that there are various varieties of barley that ripen at different days of germination. This being the case, in ancient days the farmers could determine (or predetermine) months of the next year and thus they were the authority. Where were the farmers when Noah was in the ark? This of course conflicts with the biblical authority purposed in the creation of greater and lessor lights.

Pat Brady, slt@chatlink.com
The Karaite Korner

Response: This argument is typical of the hundreds that go into calendar papers. It is probably true that the first month, Abib, means “green ears”. But the Bible does not specifically say “you shall determine the first month by the presence of green ears”. On the other hand, even Genesis 1:14–16 which says that the lights in the sky are for “appointed times” does not specifically prohibit the starting of the year when “green ears” are observed. After all, it is the sun that warms the ground that allows barley to grow.

Pat Brady’s explanation does indicate that Noah did not use barley to know when the year should begin. Or did Noah bring some barley and some soil on board? Is it possible that the Eternal just told Noah when the year should begin? He said a lot of other things to him.

Calendar students could argue these points forever. The reason they can is because there is not one clear statement in the scripture that says, “you shall begin the year when…” Lacking such a verse, they are left to find scriptures that tend to support their teaching.

May the Eternal grant us wisdom to know when to concentrate on doing and teaching what He has revealed versus studying what He has not revealed.

— NSE

 

What Law was “Nailed to the Cross”?

Letter: July 1, 2000

Dear Mr Edwards:

In your March/April 2000 issue (of Servants News), you published an article written by former Seventh day Adventist minister, Mr Sydney Davis, entitled The Creation Origin of the Festivals. Mr Davis, I’ll confess, brought several good points to my attention, which I had never before considered. I must agree with the major thrust of his article, the Holy Days of God were from creation!

However, that is not my reason for writing. In making his point, Mr Davis also touched heavily on something which has been dear to my heart for many long years. Along with the SDA and other organizations, many in the Church of God have accepted the false doctrine which states that some part of God’s law was “nailed to the cross” [Col 2:15] at the death of our Lord. That cannot be true!

All of God’s law stands or falls together. That means the law and the Sabbaths (weekly and annual). If it can be demonstrated that any part of the law of God was ever “nailed to the cross” and “done away”, all of it was nailed there and done away.

It can, however, be easily demonstrated that what was “nailed to the cross” was only the handwritten death bond which, based upon the law, required the penalty of death for all men since all men are sinners—and most definitely not the law itself. As our Lord stated, not one jot or tittle of the law will pass away until it is all being fulfilled (kept) in its entirety! When it is being kept in its entirety, after it has been written in the hearts of men and God’s kingdom has arrived on the earth, there will be no more need of a written law.

Not one jot, not one tittle, has ever passed from the law. There has been one change in the law and although Paul, in Hebrews 7:12, informs us of that change, even that part which was changed was not abolished. It has simply been made of none effect and still remains to this day. And what was that “change in the law”? Paul makes it clear, it was a change in the priesthood! Our Lord, a Jew, is now High Priest, an office which by God’s Law, was reserved for the Levites until the change was made. Both the priesthood of the Levites and the office of High Priest, were taken from Levi and given to our Lord!

When that change occurred, all of the requirements of animal sacrifices ceased as did the ritual law. The one and only real sacrifice had been made and the others were no longer necessary. We now make a different sort of sacrifice. However, none of that impinged upon the continuing laws of God in any manner. It was nothing more or less than the discontinuing of the law which had made the sons of Levi into a temporary priesthood who were to serve until the real High Priest should come.

The Law which established the temporary Levitical priesthood is the same law of which Paul speaks in Galatians chapter 3. Here, he indicates that a law was added 430 years after Abraham’s time. He also tells us in this chapter, that this law added 430 years after Abraham, could not abrogate the covenant with its promises God had given Abraham 430 years before! For a law to be added, there had to have been something to which it was added. What this law of 430 years later was added to, was the law which Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had always kept. When God renewed that law with Israel at Sinai, he added a law to it. The only law which can be found “added” at Sinai and which did not exist prior, is that which established the temporary priesthood of Levi giving that body the right to minister with sacrifices and certain rituals before God for Israel.

Since Levi’s sons were made a temporary priesthood, there had to come a time when their office failed. That time came at the qualifying of our Lord, a Jew, to be High Priest of the new priesthood—God’s church.

The sabbath and holy days could not have passed away at the “cross” of our Lord because not one jot or tittle of God’s law passed away at that time. I am appreciative of Mr Davis’s article giving this as a side point and I appreciate your printing his article. It is my fervent hope that one day every member of God’s church will understand these things and will then be able to give answer to those who claim we are to no longer keep God’s sabbaths because the law “was nailed to the cross”. Those of God’s church or the SDA who think the law was “nailed to the cross” are without the ability to defend sabbath-keeping, since, had it been, there could no longer be a requirement for sabbath-keeping.

If you would like it, let me know, and I will be most happy to send to you a paper of explanation regarding Paul’s “nailed to the cross” remarks in Colossians, chapter 2.

Sincerely and in Christian respect,

Obie Folsom Benton
Writer’s Inkhorn Ministries
PO Box 7483, Winter Haven, FL 33883

Response: Those interested in obtaining your paper can write to you directly. This is an important subject, but I have many years of things that I want to read already waiting. These verses are frequently misunderstood:

“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Col 2:14–15).

The law of God was never something that was “against us”. Rather God told Israel that they would be considered a wise nation for following it (Deut 4:5–6).

David said: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Ps 19:7).

However, the death penalty for sin and our sinful nature was indeed against us. Keep studying!

— NSE


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