Knowing the Shepherd’s Voice, Part I

Although there are many, many winds of doctrine by which God’s people are being attacked, if you look at the attacks of our theological opponents, the major attacks tend to focus on two points: (1) the doctrine of the investigative judgment, which, of course, involves a knowledge of the heavenly sanctuary and its services, and (2) the Law of God and, more specifically, the Sabbath.

These attacks have been quite severe, and several books have even been written. In my office, I have a book concerning the doctrines of Seventh-day Adventists that is written by a former Seventh-day Adventist. He accuses Seventh-day Adventists of being a cult. If you look through his book, you will see that the main thrust of his argument is an attack against the doctrine of the investigative judgment. This attack has been so severe that so-called Seventh-day Adventist theologians say that they cannot find this doctrine in the Bible.

I will show you the doctrine of the investigative judgment shortly. It is not difficult to find; it is very plain. Look at Daniel 7. This is one of the few chapters in the Bible that is written in the Aramaic language. That in itself is significant, since this is found in that passage, but that is another subject.

“I was looking until thrones were set up [the translation ‘cast down’ is incorrect; it should be ‘set up’ or ‘placed’], and the Ancient of Days did sit; whose robe was as white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was like flames of fire, its wheels were like burning fire; A river of fire issued and ran down from before Him. Thousand thousands before Him served, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was set, and the books were opened.” Verses 9, 10.

If you did not have any other text in the whole Bible about the investigative judgment, this would be enough to make it crystal clear in your mind that there is a judgment. This is a judgment in heaven. The description is at the throne of God. He is there, and hundreds and hundreds of millions of angels are present. It says, “The court was set, and the books were opened.” How much plainer can you say it? I do not know any clearer way than this that a prophet could write about the fact that there is a judgment in which the cases of men will be investigated.

Incidentally, from a study of Daniel 7:25 and 26, where the court is spoken of again in verse 26, you can figure out about when the judgment would begin. You can figure out that it was to begin shortly after 1798.

Another passage that refers to a judgment is Revelation 14:6, 7: “And I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to proclaim to those who dwell upon the earth—every nation, and tribe, and language, and people—saying with a great voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, because the hour of His judgment has come; and worship the One who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and the fountains of waters.” The last part of verse 7 is a direct quotation from the fourth commandment, which is significant. It is an invitation to worship the Creator.

Notice a few things about the context in these verses. This is not after Jesus comes; this is during the time when the gospel is still being preached. Probation has not yet closed; men and women still have an opportunity to change sides in the great controversy and choose on whose side they want to be, but the judgment is already here. This chapter shows very clearly that the judgment of God occurs while the gospel is still being preached on the earth. We know from Daniel 7 that that would be some little time after 1798.

The apostle Paul taught that the judgment would be in the future. In the Book of Acts 17:31, he said to the Athenians, “God has appointed a day in which He will [that is future] judge the world.” When he talked to Felix about the judgment, he made it very clear that the judgment was to come. (Acts 24:25.) It was in the future.

But the message in Revelation 14 says, “The hour of God’s judgment has come.” Let us think that through for a moment. Can you preach that the “hour of God’s judgment has come” if you do not know when it began? Can you really? If you do not know when it began, how can you know it is not going to be until next week? So, then, you could not say it is here, because it is still future. See, you cannot preach this unless you know when it began. But, Daniel 8 points out to us exactly when the hour of God’s judgment would begin.

In Hebrews 8:5, the apostle Paul makes very clear that what happened in Old Testament times with the Jewish sanctuary and all their services were types, examples of the reality in the heavens. He does this in Hebrews 8:5 and in a number of other verses in Hebrews 8 and 9.

In the old covenant, there were types of everything of importance. The judgment is so important that the message about the judgment is going to be preached to every single person in the world, according to Revelation 14:6, 7. For something that important, do you suppose there was any type of it in the old covenant? Well, of course there was.

In the old covenant, is there a type of the crucifixion of Christ? Oh, yes. There are many types of the crucifixion of Christ. In the old covenant, is there a type of the Second Coming of Christ? Absolutely! Have you ever read in the Old Testament about the year of jubilee, when everybody was set free? (See Leviticus 25:10–13.)

There were types of everything of importance in the plan of salvation in the old covenant, so we would expect to find a type of the judgment in the old covenant. Indeed they did have a type of judgment, and they even called it a judgment. The apostle Paul refers to it as the day of judgment in Hebrews 9. The type of the judgment in the old covenant was called the Day of Atonement or the cleansing of the sanctuary. You can review that in Leviticus 16 or Leviticus 23. Incidentally, failure to observe the Day of Atonement was such a serious offense that an individual would be cut off from being part of the children of Israel. (Leviticus 23:29.)

When we talk today about the day of judgment, we are talking about the time of the day of final atonement. The apostle Paul speaks of the day of final atonement: “Therefore it was necessary that the examples of the things in the heavens should be cleansed by these [that is, by these animal sacrifices], but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.”

Notice that he is talking about the heavenly sanctuary. Look at the context. He says that the heavenly sanctuary has to be cleansed by better sacrifices: “For not into the holy places made with hands [that is, the earthly sanctuary] Christ has gone, which are figures of the true ones [that is, the sanctuary in heaven] but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God in our behalf. Neither that often times He should offer Himself, just as the high priest entered into every year [that was in the Day of Atonement] with the blood of others. Because then He would often times have suffered since the foundation of the world; but now, once in the end of the ages, unto the putting away of sin, through the sacrifice of Himself, He has appeared.” Hebrews 9:24–26. If you look at the context exactly, Paul is talking about the Day of Atonement in the heavenly sanctuary, and he says that it will occur at the end of the ages.

We know from studying Daniel 8 and 9 that Daniel 9 explains how to compute Daniel 8. It shows us when the 2300 days begin. It shows that 490 days of the 2300 days were cut off on the Jews, leaving 1810 days. The 70 weeks, or the 490 days, concluded in a.d. 34. So, if you add 1810 to that, you come to 1844, and in 1844, this world entered the most serious, solemn period of earth’s history—that time when the final eternal destiny of every person who has ever lived on this planet is being decided.

You will not be saved when Jesus comes again, friend. You will either be saved already, or you will be lost, because it says in Revelation 22:11, 12 that His reward will be with Him, “to give to every man according as his works shall be.” The rewards will already have been determined when Jesus comes again.

The judgment began in 1844, and we have no hesitancy, no embarrassment, no shyness about telling the world that. The most important thing the world needs to know is that we are in the day of judgment now, and when this day of judgment is finished, we will not have any other opportunity to be saved; it will be over. That is not cultic doctrine; that is right out of the Scriptures. It is right out of God’s book, word for word.

Three Phases

The judgment has three phases. Many of our Protestant friends get confused, because they do not understand that the judgment has three phases. Peter says that the judgment begins with the house of God. (I Peter 4:17.) That is where it begins, but that is not where it ends. We are in the beginning phase now.

Judgment begins with the house of God, but when it finishes with the house of God, then it proceeds for another thousand years. Revelation 20:4 talks about the second phase of the judgment. There we learn that the judgment is committed to the saints.

Paul said the same thing to the Corinthians. “Do you not know?” he asked them. He was telling them that they should not be going to worldly courts to sue each other; then he said, “Do you not know that the saints are going to judge the world?” I Corinthians 6:2. The saints will even judge the devil’s angels! (Verse 3.) In his instruction, Paul continued: “If you are going to judge the world and the devil’s angels, do you think you could pass judgment and figure things out down here among yourselves, without having to go to the Gentiles to find out? You are supposed to be judging them during the millennium; they are not going to be judging you.” (Verses 4–9.)

The judgment committed to the saints for a thousand years is going to be a lot of work. God wants the saved to know that He has made no mistake, and if there is any question about any person known in this world but who is not in heaven, the books of record will be completely opened. The saved will be able to review everything about the life of anyone not in heaven. There will be no question about the judgment that God has passed. But that is just the second phase of the judgment.

Execution of Judgment

The third phase of the judgment is described in Revelation 20:11–15. It is called a judgment, and it says that everyone is “judged according to their works.” It is like a judgment here in this world. In the judgment in this world, you go to a court and there is an investigation. The lawyers argue, trying to put the weight of evidence on one side or the other. That is an investigation, and after the investigation, the judge passes sentence. That is the second phase of the judgment that takes place during the millennium. The righteous will see the sentences that are passed out to the wicked, and they will give their approval before the end of the millennium.

After the sentencing, what happens? After the sentencing there is an execution of the judgment. Whatever the sentence is, it is carried out, and the sentence given in this judgment is going to be carried out in the third phase of the judgment.

If you are not saved, you will bear the price of your own sins, which is eternal death. Not only that, any suffering that you have brought upon other people in this world will come right back upon you twofold. That is what the Bible says in both the Old and New Testaments. Double! [Isaiah 61:7; Jeremiah 16:18; 17:18; Revelation 18:6.] There are people who will burn for a long time, but after they and Satan’s angels are all burnt up, the devil will burn for a much longer time.

The judgment is a witness to the whole universe of the love of God, because God is looking down on this world with all the suffering, the pain, and the death, and He says, “Do you see this terrible situation? I cannot allow this to continue.”

This is what the judgment is about. We do not have to be ashamed or timid or shy about announcing to the world that we are in the day of judgment, that we are approaching the end of the judgment, and if they want to be saved, they had better get ready. They had better surrender their hearts and lives to the Lord now, because we are in the most solemn period of earth’s history.

Judgment in the Bible

There are many texts about the judgment in the Bible. Let us look at another that is so clear, you cannot miss the judgment in it if you think it through. “The one who overcomes [or conquers] shall be clothed in white garment, and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life; and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Revelation 3:5.

This is a really solemn text. It has a positive message, and it has a negative message. The positive message is, if you overcome. A Christian has to overcome the flesh, the world, and the devil. If you overcome, then the message for you is positive. Jesus says, “Your name will be retained in the book of life.” Revelation 20:15 tells how important that is: “Anyone whose name is not in the book of life is cast into the lake of fire.” How very important, then, to have your name in the book of life.

Jesus says, “If you overcome, I will not blot out your name from the book of life.” Think this through; flip it around, and tell me what that text means. If you do not overcome, what does Revelation 3:5 tell you? Your name is going to be blotted out of the book of life. That is what the judgment is all about. Is your name going to be retained, or is your name going to be blotted out?

Standard is Law of God

James 2 shows us that the standard in the judgment is the Law of God. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, but stumble in one, has become guilty [or liable] for all. For the One who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ said also, ‘Do not murder.’ And if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. Like this speak and like this do, as through the law of liberty about to be judged.” James 2:10–12.

This is a hard-hitting text. Think this text through for just a moment. What is the standard of the judgment, according to James 2:10–12? It is the law that says, “You shall not commit adultery, and you should not murder.” This law is the Ten Commandments. This passage tells us that if you keep all the law, but you stumble in one, you are guilty as though you kept none of the law.

Incidentally, this was written many decades after Jesus died on the cross. Many decades after Jesus died on the cross, James says that this law is still the standard of the judgment.

Two Distinct Laws

The theological opponents who are attacking God’s people with many spurious winds of doctrine put the ceremonial law and the moral law together as one law. They recognize no difference between the ceremonial law and the moral law. The first thing that happens if this is done is that people think, “Maybe we need to keep the feast days, and maybe we need to do this, and this, and this.” There are some people so deluded that they are even looking for a red heifer to offer sacrifice.

After convincing someone that there is no difference between the ceremonial law and the moral law, that there is just one combined law, these theological opponents go to Ephesians 2 and to Colossians 2. There they read about the law being nailed to the cross and the law being done away with, and they draw the conclusion that the law no longer applies.

People are deceived, because they do not understand that there is a difference, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, between the ceremonial law and the moral law. It is distinctly pointed out in both the Old and New Testaments that they are completely different from one another. It is pointed out in the New Testament that one is unchangeable and that the other was temporary. You need to know the difference.

Old Testament Distinctions

A very sharp distinction is given in the Old Testament between the two different laws. The Ten Commandments were spoken to the people by God’s own voice. There is nothing more clear than that in the Old Testament. (Read Deuteronomy 5 or Exodus 20.) But God spoke the ceremonial law to Moses, and he then spoke it to the people. That is a very sharp distinction. One was so important that God Himself spoke it, and the other He said to Moses to tell the people.

Other distinctions are given in Exodus 40 and Deuteronomy 4, 5, 9, 10, and 31.

The Ten Commandments were written by God’s own finger. This is very important to understand, because never, at any place in the Bible, are the Ten Commandments referred to as the handwriting of anybody or any thing. They were not written by any human hand, but by the finger of God. The Bible never says by the hand of God; it says by the finger of God. That is very important.

Another distinction is that the Ten Commandments were written by the finger of God in stone. Even today, what do we intend to do when we write something in stone?

A walk through a cemetery provides the opportunity to see much writing in stone. There are some things that do not change—a person’s name, the date of a person’s birth, and the date of his or her death does not change, so those are written in stone. Even when human beings write something in stone, it indicates that they do not intend for anybody to change it. God wrote the Ten Commandments in stone. Is that significant?

On the other hand, Moses hand wrote the ceremonial law, probably on parchment or leather. Clay tablets were also used during that time. None of these—parchment, leather, or clay—tablets are durable.

Storage of the laws is very clearly pointed out in the Book of Deuteronomy, especially in chapters 5, 9, 10, and 31. The Ten Commandments were placed inside the Ark. Deuteronomy 31 states very clearly in the Hebrew text that the law of Moses was placed in the side of the Ark; it was not placed inside with the Ten Commandments.

Now, these are four very clear and very sharp distinctions between the ceremonial law and the moral law as given in the Old Testament, if that is all you have. But in the New Testament, the distinction is made even more clearly.

Two Moral Principles

When asked what was the great commandment, Jesus said, “The first commandment is, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and the second is like to it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37–39.

These are the two moral principles. The first one is the moral principle upon which the first four commandments are based; the second one is the moral principle upon which the last six commandments are based.

Just think it through; it is easy. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you will not run away with his wife; you will not steal from him; you will not lie to him; you will not kill him. You would not covet something that he has, if you love him like you do yourself. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you surely would not do anything to dishonor your parents. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you will fulfill the last six commandments. Paul says, “Love does not do any ill to his neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:10.

Cannot Change Moral Law

In Mark 12:28–34, the conversation between a lawyer and Jesus is recorded where Jesus pointed out the same principles to him. The lawyer realized that they were infinitely more important than all the ceremonies and sacrifices, and he replied to the Lord, “You spoke well, Teacher. Those two principles are worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices, than the whole ceremonial system.” When Jesus heard that he answered with understanding, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

See, the New Testament, if studied carefully, points out the distinction between the moral law and the ceremonial law even more clearly than the Old Testament does. The apostle Paul was talking about that very thing in 1 Corinthians 7:19 when he said, “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing . …” Circumcision was the symbol of the old covenant and the whole sanctuary system; it was part of the ceremonial law. Paul continued with a very big “but”—“but the keeping of the commandments of God, that is everything.”

Paul points out the distinction between these two laws over and over again in the books of Galatians, Colossians, Ephesians, and Hebrews. Repeatedly he very clearly points out in the New Testament the distinction between the ceremonial law and the moral law. It emphasizes that the moral law cannot be changed.

Jesus said, in Luke 16:17, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one keraia of the law to fail.” Now, do you know what a keraia is? A keraia is not a whole letter. It is just a little hook in a Hebrew letter; it is just a small part of a letter. Think through what Jesus, the Majesty of heaven, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, is telling us. God can destroy the universe He has made, but Jesus said, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one part of a letter of the law to fail.” In other words, the God of heaven is saying to us, “I would destroy heaven and earth before I would destroy one part of one letter of My law.” It cannot be stated any more strongly than that.

To be continued …

[Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]

Pastor John Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Editorial – Types and Shadows, Part III

In the last editorial, we began looking at Colossians 2:14–17. A minimum of nine lines of evidence was given showing that the law described in this passage of Scripture could not have been the Ten Commandment Law. But it is not enough to begin to understand that this passage is not talking about the Ten Commandments. We want to know what this passage is really saying. Since very large treatises have been written about this passage, it is not possible to be exhaustive, and to conserve space, we will look one by one at a number of details.

  1. It has been recognized by Bible commentators for many years that Paul was attempting to correct certain Gnostic practices, which had crept into the church at Colossae. (Gnostics believed that they had secret knowledge about God, humanity, and the rest of the universe of which the general population was unaware.) Gnosticism was one of the major heresies which troubled the New Testament Church and which the apostles fought against so vehemently that the debate fills large sections of the New Testament. One of the major thrusts of the Gospel of John was to attack Gnostic teachings coming into the church. In 1 Timothy, 1 John, Philippians, Ephesians, and the Book of Revelation, some of the ideas of Gnosticism are again attacked. As with any major heresy, there were several branches or flavors, one of which was antinomianism (the belief that, under the gospel dispensation of grace, the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation).
  2. The Christian is not to let any person judge him in regard to eating and drinking and religious practices. Rather, he is to recognize that he will be judged by God and not by any human court. (See 1 Corinthians 4:3, 4.) In Romans 14, when Paul clearly teaches not to judge others concerning worship days, he states strongly that we will all give an account of ourselves concerning worship days to the Lord. (See Romans 14:4–13.)
  3. In addition to eating and drinking, there are three other religious observances about which the Christian is not to let any person (notice that person is singular, and this word is singular in the Greek text) judge him. These three religious observances are (1) feast, (2) new moon, and (3) sabbaths. Although the word for sabbath is in the plural, this plural word is often used in a singular sense and is often used to refer to the seventh day Sabbath. (For examples of the word sabbath used in the plural with a singular meaning in English, see Mark 1:21; 2:23, 24; Luke 4:16; 13:10; Acts 13:14; 16:13.)
  4. There is a stated reason that the Christian is not to allow any other person (i.e., a Gnostic) to judge him concerning religious observances and that is that, first of all, these religious observances are shadows of coming things. Second, these religious observances had been seized upon by Gnostics as a way to gain control of the church. Theology has been used numberless times to gain control of other people’s minds and finally to control them entirely. There are still people today with the same Gnostic attitude attempting to gain control of the church of God by dictating various practices for believers to follow in regard to eating, drinking, working, dressing, feast days, methods of Sabbath observance, ad nauseum.

To be continued . . .

Editorial – Types and Shadows, Part II

In Colossians 2:14–17, Paul speaks about a law. This passage, garbled in some Bible translations and often used by theological opponents of Seventh-day Adventists as proof texts as to why Christians do not need to keep the Sabbath, requires detailed review.

For this law, Paul gives a number of clear specifications and descriptions: (1) He says that Jesus has “wiped away that which was against us,” called the (2) “handwriting of the decrees or ordinances.” (3) These decrees or ordinances “were contrary to us.” The Greek word used means to be opposed, hostile, contrary, in opposition or opposition to someone or something. (4) This law was taken out of our midst and (5) nailed to the cross. (6) He disarmed or despoiled the rulers and authorities, exposing them and publicly triumphing over them in the cross. (7) Therefore, do not let anyone judge you in food, (8) in drink, (9) in respect of a feast, (10) of a new moon, (11) or of Sabbath or Sabbaths, (12) which things are a shadow of things about to be, (13) but the body is of Christ. (Verses 18–23 help provide contextual understanding of these verses.)

We will consider each of these specifications:

(1) According to the New Testament, it was the ceremonial law, not the moral law, which was against us. For example, Peter refers to the ceremonial law (circumcision symbolized the whole law) as a yoke which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear. (Acts 15:10.) Paul refers to it as a yoke of bondage. (Galatians 5.) The moral law, or Ten Commandments, is never referred to as a yoke of bondage but is described as a law of liberty. (James 2:10–12.)

(2) The Ten Commandments are never referred to in Scripture as being handwritten. This one fact alone proves conclusively that Paul is not here referring to them. The Ten Commandments were written by the finger of God, and not by human hand. (Exodus 24:12; 31:18.)

(3) The ceremonial law was declared by the apostles to be “contrary to us,” but the moral law is described as being given to us because God loves us, and it is not burdensome to keep. (1 John 5:3; Deuteronomy 33:2, 3.)

(4) The Ten Commandments are described as impossible to ever be taken away (Luke 16:17; Psalm 89:34), but this law is taken away. We know, therefore, that this law cannot be the Ten Commandment Law.

(5) The New Testament is definite about which law was nailed to the cross. Paul says, in Galatians 3, that there was a law added because of transgression. As explained in the previous editorial, there could not even be transgression without the moral law. The law added, because of transgression, was the ceremonial law, which was only to exist until the coming of Christ. Also, Paul says that this added law was commanded through messengers, or angels, in the hand of a mediator. He says that a mediator is not of one, but God is one. This again proves that he was not talking about the Ten Commandment Law, because it was not given through angels or messengers, nor ordained in the hand of a mediator. This law was given by God Himself, not through messengers, and it existed before there was a mediator or a need for one. (Galatians 3:19, 20.) Therefore, the law that was nailed to the cross would have to be the ceremonial law.

(7) Colossians 2:16 begins with the word, “therefore.” The context is clear that Paul is talking about the ceremonial law, not the Ten Commandments. “Therefore,” shows that what he says next continues to refer to the ceremonial law.

(8–11) Each of these descriptions would have to be referring to the ceremonial law. To make this fact absolutely certain, Paul says, in verse 17, “which things are a shadow of things to come.” The ceremonial ordinances, whether new moons, feast days, or yearly sabbaths (these yearly sabbaths were “beside the sabbaths of the Lord,” Leviticus 23:4–38), were all shadows of things to come, but the seventh day Sabbath was never a shadow of things to come. It was a memorial of creation, as distinctly stated in Exodus 20:8–11.

Editorial – Types and Shadows, Part I

Many people are being confused by teachers who are telling them that, since the cross, they are free from the law and no longer need to keep it. If this is so, then keeping the Sabbath is immaterial. Of the many arguments developed to promote the false teaching that the Sabbath is not important, one of the most fundamental is the confusion between the moral law and the ceremonial law so that texts referring to one are applied to the other. But God has, in His Word, made a clear and broad distinction between these two laws.

  1. First, God referred to the Ten Commandments as a separate and distinct law from all ceremonial laws. (See Exodus 24:12.)
  2. Second, much of what Moses wrote is not ceremonial at all, but a more complete explanation of the Ten Commandments. For example, Leviticus 18 and 20 contain a fuller explanation of the meaning and scope of the seventh commandment.
  3. A third, fundamental principle is the fact that “no lie is of the truth.” 1 John 2:21. In other words, the truth can never contradict itself; it must always harmonize and agree with itself. Ellen White wrote, concerning this principle, “All truth, whether in nature or in revelation, is consistent with itself in all its manifestations.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 114. If a Bible student discovers what appears to be a contradiction in any Bible verse concerning what the Bible teaches about the law, that person simply does not yet understand the truth, because the truth will have no contradictions against itself.

Aside from these often ignored three points, biblical evidence confirms that there are two laws—one unchangeable and eternal and the other temporary, ceasing at the cross of Christ. For lack of space, we will list briefly the points and allow the reader to study each one in more detail.

  1. The moral law existed at creation. The Sabbath is specifically mentioned as coming into existence at the end of creation week. (Genesis 2:1–3.) Paul is very explicit that there can be no transgression without a law, that Adam did sin, and that sin is not reckoned or accounted where there is no law. Even though the law was not formally given until Sinai, it existed at creation. (Romans 4:15; 5:12, 13.) A careful study of Genesis and the first part of Exodus will show that the people of those days knew each one of the precepts of this law.

The ceremonial law did not exist at creation. It was “added because of transgression.” Galatians 3:19. Without the Ten Commandment Law, there could not be a transgression, and the ceremonial law was added after man had broken the moral law and become a sinner. (See also Romans 7:7.)

  1. The moral law is spoken of in the Bible as unchangeable. It was called God’s covenant and included only what God spoke to the people. (Deuteronomy 4:13; 5:22.) It is something that God will never alter or change. (Psalm 89:34.) Jesus said, concerning this law, that it would be easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for even part of a letter to fail. (Luke 16:17.) It would certainly appear to be absolutely impossible for Jesus to make a more emphatic pronouncement that this law is unchangeable! As long as this earth is in existence and as long as the heavens exist above, this law will be in existence, unchanged. (The Sabbath commandment is the longest commandment in the Decalogue—55 words—and not part of even one letter of one of those words can be changed.)

The ceremonial law is spoken of, in the Bible, not only as something that was changed by the coming of the Messiah (Hebrews 7:12) but also as a law that was no longer in effect since His coming. (See Colossians 2:14–17; Ephesians 2:15. Several lines in both of these references show that they are speaking about the ceremonial law.)

Bible Study Guides – Two Laws

July 29, 2012 – August 4, 2012

The People of the Ark

Key Text

“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Galatians 3:24.

Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 363–373.


“[Galatians 3:24 quoted.] … The Holy Spirit through the apostle [Paul] is speaking especially of the moral law. The law reveals sin to us, and causes us to feel our need of Christ and to flee unto Him for pardon and peace by exercising repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 234.


  • What was one of the purposes for which Jesus came into the world? From what does He save us? Matthew 1:21. How can we recognize sin in our life? Romans 3:20; 7:7, 12; Psalm 19:7.

Note: “It was because the law was changeless, because man could be saved only through obedience to its precepts, that Jesus was lifted up on the cross.” The Desire of Ages, 763.

“By His [Christ’s] perfect obedience He has made it possible for every human being to obey God’s commandments.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 312.

“Without the law, men have no just conception of the purity and holiness of God or of their own guilt and uncleanness. They have no true conviction of sin and feel no need of repentance.” The Great Controversy, 468.

  • How did Christ relate to the moral law? Isaiah 42:21; Matthew 5:17–20, 27, 28; Luke 16:17, 18. What did Paul write about the moral law? Romans 2:12, 13, 17, 21–27; 3:31; 8:7.

Note: “Satan is seeking to destroy the force of the Ten Commandments, urging his agents to declare that Christ nailed them to His cross. The cross is an immutable argument of the unchangeable character of the law of God. Christ died in order that a way might be provided for saving the sinner, in meeting the demands of the broken law.” The Signs of the Times, March 12, 1896.


  • Which law is called “a schoolmaster,” and why? Galatians 3:24.

Note: “When the mind is drawn to the cross of Calvary, Christ by imperfect sight is discerned on the shameful cross. Why did He die? In consequence of sin. What is sin? The transgression of the law. Then the eyes are open to see the character of sin. The law is broken but cannot pardon the transgressor. It is our schoolmaster, condemning to punishment. Where is the remedy? The law drives us to Christ, who was hanged upon the cross that He might be able to impart His righteousness to fallen, sinful man.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 341.

“What law is the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ? I answer: Both the ceremonial and the moral code of ten commandments.

“Christ was the foundation of the whole Jewish economy. The death of Abel was in consequence of Cain’s refusing to accept God’s plan in the school of obedience to be saved by the blood of Jesus Christ typified by the sacrificial offerings pointing to Christ. Cain refused the shedding of blood which symbolized the blood of Christ to be shed for the world. This whole ceremony was prepared by God, and Christ became the foundation of the whole system. This is the beginning of its work as the schoolmaster to bring sinful human agents to a consideration of Christ the Foundation of the whole Jewish economy.

“All who did service in connection with the sanctuary were being educated constantly in regard to the intervention of Christ in behalf of the human race. This service was designed to create in every heart a love for the law of God, which is the law of His kingdom. The sacrificial offering was to be an object lesson of the love of God revealed in Christ—in the suffering, dying victim, who took upon Himself the sin of which man was guilty, the innocent being made sin for us.” Ibid., 233.

  • What does the Bible say about the ceremonial law? Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 10:1.

Note: “The ceremonial law was to answer a particular purpose in Christ’s plan for the salvation of the race. The typical system of sacrifices and offerings was established that through these services the sinner might discern the great offering, Christ.” The Faith I Live By, 106.


  • Why did the ceremonial law—the shadow of future things—come to an end? Colossians 2:16, 17, 20; Hebrews 10:4; 9:11, 12, 15.

Note: “There are many who try to blend these two [legal] systems, using the texts that speak of the ceremonial law to prove that the moral law has been abolished; but this is a perversion of the Scriptures. The distinction between the two systems is broad and clear. The ceremonial system was made up of symbols pointing to Christ, to His sacrifice and His priesthood. This ritual law, with its sacrifices and ordinances, was to be performed by the Hebrews until type met antitype in the death of Christ, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Then all the sacrificial offerings were to cease. It is this law that Christ ‘took … out of the way, nailing it to His cross.’ Colossians 2:14.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 365.

“God’s people, whom He calls His peculiar treasure, were privileged with a two fold system of law; the moral and the ceremonial. The one, pointing back to creation to keep in remembrance the living God who made the world, whose claims are binding upon all men in every dispensation, and which will exist through all time and eternity. The other, given because of man’s transgression of the moral law, the obedience to which consisted in sacrifices and offerings pointing to the future redemption. Each is clear and distinct from the other.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1094.

  • Who was among the first to offer an animal sacrifice, and what did this represent? Hebrews 11:4; John 1:29; Hebrews 9:28.

Note: “The typical service and the ceremonies connected with it were abolished at the cross. The great antitypical Lamb of God had become an offering for guilty man, and the shadow ceased in the substance.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1061.

“Our Saviour, in His life and death, fulfilled all the prophecies pointing to Himself, and was the substance of all the types and shadows signified.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 231.


  • Why were animal sacrifices required? Hebrews 9:22; 10:10–14.

Note: “In the plan of redemption there must be the shedding of blood, for death must come in consequence of man’s sin. The beasts for sacrificial offerings were to prefigure Christ. In the slain victim, man was to see the fulfillment for the time being of God’s word, ‘Ye shall surely die’ [Genesis 2:17]. And the flowing of the blood from the victim would also signify an atonement.” The Review and Herald, March 3, 1874.

“The sacrificial offerings were ordained by God to be to man a perpetual reminder and a penitential acknowledgment of his sin and a confession of his faith in the promised Redeemer. They were intended to impress upon the fallen race the solemn truth that it was sin that caused death.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 68.

  • After the children of Israel had suffered under bondage in Egypt, what special service was introduced to be more specific in the representation of Jesus Christ? Leviticus 23:5; I Corinthians 5:7, 8.

Note: “It was Christ’s desire to leave to His disciples an ordinance that would do for them the very thing they needed—that would serve to disentangle them from the rites and ceremonies which they had hitherto engaged in as essential, and which the reception of the gospel made no longer of any force. To continue these rites would be an insult to Jehovah.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1139, 1140.

“He [Christ] kept the moral law, and exalted it by answering its claims as man’s representative. Those of Israel who turned to the Lord, and accepted Christ as the reality shadowed forth by the typical sacrifices, discerned the end of that which was to be abolished.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 231.

  • What was the blood of animals unable to accomplish? Hebrews 7:19; 10:4. How only is complete cleansing obtained? Acts 4:12.


  • On many occasions in the history of the Jewish nation, what was so very difficult for them to understand? Isaiah 1:11–15. Why? Isaiah 1:6. What did the early Christians therefore understand?

Note: “The Jews had prided themselves upon their divinely appointed services; and they concluded that as God once specified the Hebrew manner of worship, it was impossible that He should ever authorize a change in any of its specifications. They decided that Christianity must connect itself with the Jewish laws and ceremonies. They were slow to discern to the end of that which had been abolished by the death of Christ, and to perceive that all their sacrificial offerings had but prefigured the death of the Son of God, in which type had met its antitype rendering valueless the divinely appointed ceremonies and sacrifices of the Jewish religion. …

“He [Paul] knew that the typical ceremonies must soon altogether cease, since that which they had shadowed forth had come to pass, and the light of the gospel was shedding its glory upon the Jewish religion, giving a new significance to its ancient rites.” Sketches from the Life of Paul, 64, 65.

“[In Acts 15:13–29]. It was his [the apostle James’] sentence that the ceremonial law, and especially the ordinance of circumcision, be not in any wise urged upon the Gentiles, or even recommended to them.” Ibid., 69.

  • While the Jews used the sacrificial system as a license to sin, what type of sacrifices was God really seeking? Psalm 51:17–19; Isaiah 1:16–18.

Note: “Paul did not bind himself nor his converts to the ceremonies and customs of the Jews, with their varied forms, types, and sacrifices; for he recognized that the perfect and final offering had been made in the death of the Son of God. The age of clearer light and knowledge had now come. And although the early education of Paul had blinded his eyes to this light, and led him to bitterly oppose the work of God, yet the revelation of Christ to him while on his way to Damascus had changed the whole current of his life. His character and works had now become a remarkable illustration of those of his divine Lord. His teaching led the mind to a more active spiritual life, that carried the believer above mere ceremonies. …

“He preached the cross of Christ.” Sketches from the Life of Paul, 105.


1 Why do we need to have a clear understanding of the principles of the Ten Commandments?

2 Why did the death of Christ make the entire ceremonial law no longer valid?

3 What are we actually doing if we continue to keep the ceremonial law—including the Passover—after the crucifixion?

4 Whose blood do we need in order to have actual cleansing from sin?

5 Because there are statutes directly connected to the ceremonial law, as well as to the moral law, which ones are we to study and implement today?

Extra Reading

“The Jews had become familiar with the offering of blood, and had almost lost sight of the fact that it was sin which made necessary all this shedding of the blood of beasts. They did not discern that it prefigured the blood of God’s dear Son, which was to be shed for the life of the world.” The Desire of Ages, 589, 590.

“The moral law was never a type or a shadow. It existed before man’s creation, and will endure as long as God’s throne remains. God could not change nor alter one precept of His law in order to save man; for the law is the foundation of His government. It is unchangeable, unalterable, infinite, and eternal. In order for man to be saved, and for the honor of the law to be maintained, it was necessary for the Son of God to offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin. He who knew no sin became sin for us. He died for us on Calvary. His death shows the wonderful love of God for man, and the immutability of His law.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 239, 240.

“The Sabbath commandment was not nailed to the cross. If it was, the other nine commandments were; and we are at liberty to break them all, as well as to break the fourth. I saw that God had not changed the Sabbath, for He never changes.” Early Writings, 33.

“After Christ died on the cross as a sin offering, the ceremonial law could have no force. Yet it was connected with the moral law, and was glorious. The whole bore the stamp of divinity, and expressed the holiness, justice, and righteousness of God. And if the ministration of the dispensation to be done away was glorious, how much more must the reality be glorious, when Christ was revealed, giving His life-giving sanctifying Spirit to all who believe?” Lift Him Up, 147.

© 2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Evidence Against Unbelief

When crisis develops among God’s people, sometimes it is necessary to talk about things that we would not otherwise discuss.

Let us begin with a statement from The Desire of Ages, 458. It says, “God does not compel men to give up their unbelief. Before them are light and darkness, truth and error. It is for them to decide which they will accept. The human mind is endowed with power to discriminate between right and wrong. God designs that men shall not decide from impulse, but from the weight of evidence, carefully comparing scripture with scripture.”

The fact that a decision must be made based on the weight of evidence means there is evidence to be considered on both sides of the argument. This also implies that you do not know everything. Because God does know everything, He does not need to make a decision based on the weight of evidence. The apostle Paul said, “We know in part, and we prophesy in part.” I Corinthians 13:9, NKJV.

In weighing the evidence, for what should we look? We are told in The Great Controversy, 595, that, “God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms. The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils [all church councils], as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority—not one nor all of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord’ in its support.”

It is very important to know what the word of God actually teaches and commands. Those who do not understand this principle can get misled on subjects, for example, the state of the dead.

We are living in interesting times. Ellen White said that the time would come when every wind of doctrine would be blowing. I cannot help but wonder if we are not living in that time now. There are many deceptive doctrines floating around today, and our only safety is to stand on the word of God.

There is a Scripture that has been confusing to many Seventh-day Adventists. It is something that we need to understand because we are facing a soon-coming Sunday law crisis, not just in the United States but worldwide, and this passage will be used against all Seventh-day Adventists. For this reason it needs to be understood. Many theologians who have written books believe that the Christian Sabbath has been changed to Sunday, and the passage of Scripture that we are going to study is one of their main proof texts.

To understand this text, attention must be given to the antecedents of the pronouns that are used. Many people get in trouble while reading their Bibles because of the use of pronouns. The apostle Paul is an expert at this, and careful attention must be given to what the pronoun refers or we can draw all kinds of conclusions to the text. We are going to look at the antecedent of the pronoun.

Reading Colossians 2:14 from the Greek New Testament, Paul talks about “wiping away the handwriting of the ordinances which was against us, which was contrary to us. And He took it out of the midst (out of the way), nailing it to the cross. And having stripped the rulers and the authorities, He made a display of them in public, boldly triumphing over them in Himself.”

Immediately you should know that the apostle Paul is not referring to the Ten Commandments here, as they were not handwritten. Moses, the prophets and the apostles all wrote by hand. The Bible is inspired, and handwritten, but the Ten Commandments were not handwritten.

It is recorded only three times in the Bible where God wrote something. Every time it says explicitly how He wrote—with His finger. One time He wrote in stone (Exodus 31:18). One time He wrote on a wall (Daniel 5:5), and one time He wrote on the ground (John 8:6). God doesn’t use handwriting; He writes with His finger.

Some may argue that your finger is on your hand, but your finger is not your hand. My late brother, while a teenager living on a farm, was involved in a tractor accident. His little finger was cut in such a way that it was just hanging by the skin. Though he was rushed to the hospital and underwent surgery to sew the finger back on and reattach the nerves, it had been too long since it was cut off, and the next day that finger was dead. So, he had to go to surgery again to have it cut off. Though my brother lost the end of that finger, he didn’t lose his hand. Your hand and your fingers are two different things.

Whatever the ordinance in Colossians 2:14 is referring to, it has been wiped away. The term wipe away means to be abolished, not existent anymore. Not only that, these are called ordinances which could also be translated as decrees. These ordinances, Paul says, were against us, contrary to us, and they were taken out of the midst. In other words, they were removed. They were nailed to the cross.

Are there ordinances that were nailed to the cross? Yes, that is what this Scripture says. These ordinances, Paul says, were against us, they were taken out of the midst, and they were blotted out or abolished. Because of this, the apostle Paul now is going to draw some conclusions. Notice what he says in verse 16: “Therefore [because of what I’ve told you already, this is the conclusion], do not let anyone judge you in food or in drink, or concerning a feast or a new moon or of sabbath days.”

Our Protestant friends get in trouble because they stop right there. We can get into trouble with documents if we just read to the middle of the sentence. Paul has mentioned five things: eating, drinking, feasts, new moons, and sabbaths, but that is just the first part of the sentence. The next part of the sentence, “which are shadows of things to come,” follows in verse 17. He is not condemning eating or drinking or feasts or new moons or sabbaths. What he is saying is, “Don’t let anybody judge you concerning these things which are shadows of things to come, but the body of Christ.” It could be translated, “but the body is of Christ.”

Let us stop there before we continue. In the Old Testament there were ordinances that had to do with eating. At certain times of the year it was forbidden to eat leavened bread. There were even food offerings. Paul told the Colossians not to let anybody judge them in regard to these things with eating, which were a shadow of things to come.

There were also ordinances in the Old Testament in regard to drinking and also feast days. (See Leviticus 23.) Some of these feast days were called sabbaths. There were also ordinances in regard to new moons. Paul says, “Don’t let anybody judge you in regard to these things which are a shadow of things to come.”

He continues, “Let no one pass judgment on you, wishing in humility and worshiping of angels which he has seen.” Verse 18. However, some manuscripts say, “worshiping of angels which he has not seen, pushing in vain, puffed up by his fleshly mind and not holding the Head from whom all the body through the joints and bands having been supplied and having been fitted together will grow with the growth of God. If then you died with Christ from the fundamental principles of the world, why, as living in the world, are you under ordinances?” Verses 18–20.

That’s a serious question. Christ was the fulfilling of these things. Paul is talking about the ordinances he has just mentioned, the ordinances that have to do with eating, drinking, feast days, new moons, and sabbath days which are a shadow of things to come. Then he makes a really strong statement. Do you remember back in the Garden of Eden what God told Adam and Eve about the forbidden fruit? I want to tell you, most Adventists have not come to grips with what we are going to read now in the Bible from verse 21. This is strong. I didn’t write it, but this is how it reads in the literal translation; “Do not touch, do not taste, do not finger.” In other words don’t even touch it with your fingertips. Some translations say: “Do not handle. Do not touch it. Do not taste it. Do not even put your finger on it, which things are all unto corruption in the using according to the injunctions and teachings of men.” Verses 21, 22.

In verse 23, the phrase “which things” is used. What are these things? Well, they are the ordinances that have been nailed to the cross. Paul says, “Don’t touch these things. Don’t taste them. Don’t even put your finger on it. They have a reputation, indeed of wisdom, in self-imposed worship.”

You see, when God hasn’t commanded something and you do it anyway, that is not of God; it is not divinely directed worship; it is self-imposed worship. “Which things have a reputation, indeed of wisdom, and self-imposed worship, in humility, and severe treatment of the body, not in any honor, but for the satisfaction of the flesh.” Verse 23.

These ordinances, that God gave to His people in the Old Testament, had been covered up with a mass of human tradition which made it almost impossible even for the Jews to keep. And then, there were teachers trying to get the Christians to keep all this tradition that the Jews had come up with over several hundred years since the captivity. Paul says not to have anything to do with it for it is man-made.

Many people confuse the moral law with the ceremonial law and use the same argument used by the Roman Catholic Church in their objection to Protestantism. Paul said, “Therefore, brothers, stand and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether through word or letter from us.” II Thessalonians 2:15.

The Roman Catholic Church believes there are two kinds of tradition—verbal and written. They believe that the oral tradition they have that was handed down from the apostles is even more important than the written tradition—the New Testament. There are Adventists today using this same argument, insisting that the feast days should still be kept; however, decisions cannot be based on apostolic tradition but on a “thus saith the Lord.”

Adventists sometimes have done the same thing with Ellen White. I have received material that asks, Did you know that Ellen White, at a certain date, drank some cocoa? The tradition of Ellen White is not the standard of what to believe or how to eat. I look to the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy to find those instructions.

I once read an account of a pope back in the Middle Ages, the Dark Ages. He had fathered a child by adultery and attempted to justify himself by claiming he was not more holy than David or Solomon who both made many mistakes and still wrote part of the Old Testament.

There are other texts that people misinterpret. Paul, giving a defense before a judge, said, “And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city. Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me. But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and the Prophets.” Acts 24:12–14, NKJV. Those advocating keeping of the feasts believe that because the ordinances of feasts were written “in the law and in the prophets,” Paul still kept them. Paul understood what those ordinances pointed forward to, and he kept the ordinances in the antitype, not the type, because Christ had already died on the cross.

Every single one of the feasts has an antitype.

The Passover—This was the first feast of the year. The antitype of the Passover is found in I Corinthians 5, and this is one of the principle passages about which people are really confused. This is the story of a man who was living with his father’s wife. Though Paul was absent, he told them he was there in spirit and very clearly said that the man needed to be disfellowshiped because of his open sin. (See I Corinthians 5:1–5.) In this context he said, “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” The little leaven—this man’s sin in living with his father’s wife—would affect the whole lump, the whole church, so he must be removed. “Therefore purge out the old leaven [disfellowship this person] that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened.” A church that is unleavened is a church that does not allow a member to be living in open sin and remain a member of that church. “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast.” Verses 6–8, NKJV. Taken out of context, some believe this to mean that we are supposed to keep the feast days.

In The Desire of Ages, 652, when Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper, Ellen White wrote: “Christ was standing at the point of transition between two economies and their two great festivals. [One was the Passover and one was the Lord’s Supper.] He, the spotless Lamb of God, was about to present Himself as a sin offering, that He would thus bring to an end the system of types and ceremonies that for four thousand years had pointed to His death. As He ate the Passover with His disciples, He instituted in its place the service that was to be the memorial of His great sacrifice. The national festival of the Jews was to pass away forever. The service which Christ established was to be observed by His followers in all lands and through all ages.”

Paul speaks of the Lord’s Supper when he says that Christ is our sacrifice. “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Verse 8, NKJV.

“When he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood about and laid many serious complaints against Paul which they could not prove, while he answered for himself, ‘Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.’ ” Acts 25:7, 8, NKJV. This is claimed as further proof that Paul continued to keep the feasts; however, it is not a clear “thus saith the Lord” and stretches the meaning of the verse like all other passages brought forth in this instance. The apostle Paul well understood what those feast days represented. The Passover represented the sacrifice on the cross.

The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost—This represented the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on God’s children that would occur 50 days after the first.

The Feast of Trumpets—This represented the prediction of prophecy of the worldwide awakening concerning the Second Advent movement that happened in the later part of the eighteenth and early part of the nineteenth centuries.

The Day of Atonement—We believe in keeping this festival in the antitype. We are at present living in the real Day of Atonement. A careful study of the Bible will reveal that we do not get involved in any other feast while in the Day of Atonement. The literal translation from the Greek New Testament of these texts says, “Neither in the law of the Jews, neither unto the temple or Caesar have I sinned anything at all.”

Sin is the transgression of the law—the Ten Commandments. If it was sin to break the ceremonial law, even Jesus Christ would have been a sinner, because in both the gospel and in the book The Desire of Ages He did not keep every aspect or specification of the ceremonial law at all times. For example, Jesus touched a leper, which was not in accordance with the ceremonial law that declared the leper unclean. (See Matthew 8:2, 3; Mark 1:40, 41.)

Another argument in favor of the feasts is Acts 28:17, NKJV, which says, “It came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together, he said to them: ‘Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.’ ”

Paul did not lie here if he did not keep the ceremonial law because he did continue to keep those ceremonies, but in the antitype. In Acts 18:21, it does read that Paul kept the ceremonial feast in Jerusalem. However, when I looked up that verse in my Greek New Testament, I was shocked to find the evidence is just not there. The footnote in the Greek New Testament reads that this statement didn’t even appear in any of the ancient manuscripts and is absent from several of the oldest translations.

Another so-called proof text is found in Acts 20:16 where Paul hurried to be in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. To be there was not a command to keep the feast. What if I said to somebody that I want to be in Atlanta for Thanksgiving? Is that a command to keep Thanksgiving as a holy day? Not at all. The Jewish Christians had planned the whole year around these different ceremonial feasts. Time was measured by them, and they would talk about before or after Passover, before or after the Feast of Trumpets, before or after the Atonement. The apostles could use that language and say they would be in such a place by this time. It certainly is not a command to keep these feast days as they were kept prior to their fulfillment at the cross of Calvary.

There are some who say they have evidence from the early Christian literature that the twelve apostles, not Paul but the others, kept the ceremonial law. In the book, Sketches from the Life of Paul by Ellen G. White, she says very clearly that among the Christians, the apostle Paul was thought to be a teacher of dangerous doctrines. She makes it very clear in that book, and also in The Acts of the Apostles, 199, that the apostle Paul had to stand alone amongst even the apostles.

The apostles of Jesus were very slow to understand the significance of what had happened when Jesus was crucified and, as such had fulfilled the ceremonial law, making it no longer in effect. There were many of the apostles that probably continued to keep the entire ceremonial law for the rest of their lives, which was a mistake on their part. Do you want to rest your faith on a mistake that somebody else made?

Ellen White says that the apostle Paul so desired to bring harmony and unity into the Christian church that at the end of his life he made a mistake. It is recorded in Acts 21:20–24 NKJV: “And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, ‘You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law [ceremonial law]; but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. Take them and be purified with them.’ ” In other words, show respect for the ceremonial law so we can have peace. The apostle Paul did what the apostles suggested, and it was the reason he was taken prisoner, cutting short his ministry.

Ellen White says definitely over and over again that it was a mistake. Do you want to base your religion on a mistake that Paul made or on a mistake that the apostles made?

The apostles were human just like us, and they made mistakes. I would never make a decision whether or not to drink cocoa on the basis that Ellen White at one time was seen to drink a cup of cocoa, would you? That is a dangerous way to make a decision. The answer to the question is, “What does God say in His Inspired word?” That should be the only basis for decisions.

“The very priests who ministered in the temple had lost sight of the significance of the service they performed. They had ceased to look beyond the symbol to the thing signified. In presenting the sacrificial offerings they were as actors in a play. The ordinances which God Himself had appointed were made the means of blinding the mind and hardening the heart. God could do no more for man through these channels. The whole system must be swept away.” The Desire of Ages, 36. This subject here is made clear in very strong language.

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts quoted are literal translation.)

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Free Seventh-day Adventist Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Question & Answer – What is the law that Paul talks about in Galatians that is the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ?

Both the ceremonial and the moral code of ten commandments are designed to bring us to Christ.

“Christ was the foundation of the whole Jewish economy. The death of Abel was in consequence of Cain’s refusing to accept God’s plan in the school of obedience to be saved by the blood of Jesus Christ typified by the sacrificial offerings pointing to Christ. Cain refused the shedding of blood which symbolized the blood of Christ to be shed for the world. This whole ceremony was prepared by God, and Christ became the foundation of the whole system. This is the beginning of its work as the schoolmaster to bring sinful human agents to a consideration of Christ the Foundation of the whole Jewish economy.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 233.

“All who did service in connection with the sanctuary were being educated constantly in regard to the intervention of Christ in behalf of the human race. This service was designed to create in every heart a love for the law of God, which is the law of His kingdom. The sacrificial offering was to be an object lesson of the love of God revealed in Christ—in the suffering, dying victim, who took upon Himself the sin of which man was guilty, the innocent being made sin for us.” Ibid.

“ ‘The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith’ (Galatians 3:24). In this scripture, the Holy Spirit through the apostle is speaking especially of the moral law. The law reveals sin to us, and causes us to feel our need of Christ and to flee unto Him for pardon and peace by exercising repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ibid., 234.

“The law is an expression of God’s idea. When we receive it in Christ, it becomes our idea. It lifts us above the power of natural desires and tendencies, above temptations that lead to sin. ‘Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them’ (Psalm 119:165)—cause them to stumble.” Ibid., 235.

Editorial – The Crisis Issue at the End of the World

When Jesus came to our world to become our Savior and Redeemer, the second table of the law of God—the last six commandments—were often ignored, while God’s professed people exalted in their keeping of the first four commandments and avoiding idolatry, which had been the plague of God’s professed people up until the time of the Babylonian captivity. This can be seen over and over in the gospels (see for example Mark 3:1–6).

But in the last days, the situation is reversed. We know this from studying Revelation 13. There will be great emphasis on loving your fellow man but there will be a rebellion against the first table of the law, which commands us to love God with all our heart and mind. If I do love God with all my heart, I will never commit idolatry. However, according to Revelation 13 we will be commanded to worship an image.

Does the Bible emphasize the fact that law-keeping versus law-breaking will be the issue in the last days and that the special issue will involve the first four commandments? It does. Here is a little of the evidence:

  1. The difference which distinguishes God’s children from the rest of the world in the last days is that God’s children in the last days will be commandment keepers in contrast with those who worship the beast and the image to the beast and who receive the mark of the beast (Revelation 14:9–12; 13:14–17). Worshiping any image is a violation of the second commandment.
  2. The saved from the last generation will be those who do not worship the beast, the image, and receive the mark of the beast (Revelation 15:2; 20:4).
  3. Nobody can be saved who is a violator of the second commandment unless he repents and is converted and forsakes that sin. Notice the warnings about this in 1 Corinthians 6:9; Revelation 21:8; 22:15.
  4. A deliberate attempt to change God’s times and His law is a special identifying mark of the apostasy of the latter days according to Daniel 7:25. The only times in God’s law are the times mentioned in the fourth commandment, the longest commandment of the ten and the one that has been almost universally broken since ancient times. And yet this commandment for thousands of years has been the sign that distinguishes God’s true people from all others. (See Exodus 31:12–17. Compare Ezekiel 20.)

Bible Study Guide – The Righteousness of Christ Revealed in His Law

November 2, 2014 – November 8, 2014

Key Text

“Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God: not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” II Corinthians 3:3.

Study Help: Steps to Christ, 43–48.


“The glory that shone on the face of Moses was a reflection of the righteousness of Christ in the law.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 237.


  • What did Moses see in beholding God’s glory? Exodus 33:18, 19; 34:5–7.

Note: “God requires perfection of His children. His law is a transcript of His own character, and it is the standard of all character. This infinite standard is presented to all that there may be no mistake in regard to the kind of people whom God will have to compose His kingdom. The life of Christ on earth was a perfect expression of God’s law, and when those who claim to be children of God become Christlike in character, they will be obedient to God’s commandments. Then the Lord can trust them to be of the number who shall compose the family of heaven.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 315.

  • What was the mission of Jesus as it related to the law of God? Psalm 40:8; Isaiah 42:21; II Corinthians 4:6.

Note: “It was to manifest this [God’s] glory that He [Christ] came to our world. To this sin-darkened earth He came to reveal the light of God’s love—to be ‘God with us’ (Matthew 1:23).” The Desire of Ages, 19.


  • What happens when we come to understand that Christ is the law of God revealed in human flesh? II Corinthians 5:17.

Note: “By beholding we become changed, morally assimilated to the One Who is perfect in character. By receiving His imputed righteousness, through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, we become like Him. The image of Christ is cherished, and it captivates the whole being.

“Beholding Christ for the purpose of becoming like Him, the seeker after truth sees the perfection of the principles of God’s law, and he becomes dissatisfied with everything but perfection. Hiding his life in the life of Christ, he sees that the holiness of the divine law is revealed in the character of Christ, and more and more earnestly he strives to be like Him. A warfare may be expected at any time, for the tempter sees that he is losing one of his subjects. A battle must be fought with the attributes which Satan has been strengthening for his own use. The human agent sees what he has to contend with—a strange power opposed to the idea of attaining the perfection that Christ holds out. But with Christ there is saving power that will gain for him victory in the conflict.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1098.

“Could all see Christ before the throne, waiting for their prayers, waiting for them to surrender their will, to cease their rebellion and come back to their allegiance to God, in deep penitence they would pray the Father to forgive their transgression of His law, and forgive them for the influence they have exercised in causing others to disregard the law of Jehovah. The confederacies of the enemy’s army are triumphing in their delay.” Our Father Cares, 266.

  • How is our character changed? Hebrews 12:2. What action is required of us by comparing Numbers 21:8 with John 3:14, 15? John 6:37, 54–56.

Note: “To Moses, the character of God was revealed as His glory. In like manner, we behold the glory of Christ by beholding His character. …

“Why, then, is there manifested in the church so great a lack of love, of true, elevated, sanctified, ennobling sympathy, of tender pity and loving forbearance? It is because Christ is not constantly brought before the people. His attributes of character are not brought into the practical life. Men and women are not eating of the Bread that cometh down from heaven.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 9, 296, 297.


  • What is the difference between the “ministration of condemnation” and the “ministration of righteousness”? II Corinthians 3:1–3, 6–9.

Note: “The fallen race of Adam can behold nothing else in the letter of this covenant [of God’s holy law] than the ministration of death; and death will be the reward of everyone who is seeking vainly to fashion a righteousness of his own that will fulfill the claims of the law.” The Signs of the Times, September 5, 1892.

“Not once has Christ stated, that His coming destroyed the claims of God’s law. On the contrary, in the very last message to His church, by way of Patmos, He pronounces a benediction upon those who keep His Father’s law: ‘Blessed are they that do His commandments’ (Revelation 22:14).” Ibid., July 29, 1886.

  • How does Paul describe the veil of ignorance of the Jews who rejected Christ? Romans 9:31, 32; 10:3.
  • Describe how the veil can be taken away. II Corinthians 3:13–16.

Note: “It was the light of the glory of the gospel of Christ, who was the foundation of the sacrificial system, that shone in the face of Moses. [II Corinthians 3:7, 8 quoted.] When the reality, the full blaze of midday light, should come, the dim glory which was but an earnest of the latter, should be done away, swallowed up in the greater glory.” The Signs of the Times, August 25, 1887.

“The ritual service was of no value, unless connected with Christ by living faith. Even the moral law fails of its purpose, unless it is understood in its relation to the Saviour. Christ had repeatedly shown that His Father’s law contained something deeper than mere authoritative commands. In the law is embodied the same principle that is revealed in the gospel. The law points out man’s duty and shows him his guilt. To Christ he must look for pardon and for power to do what the law enjoins.” The Desire of Ages, 608.


  • How was the character of God as revealed in His law more completely and perfectly manifested through the life of Christ? II Corinthians 3:9–11. What should this cause us to consider as we seek to abide by God’s law?

Note: “As a people, we have preached the law until we are as dry as the hills of Gilboa that had neither dew nor rain. We must preach Christ in the law, and there will be sap and nourishment in the preaching that will be as food to the famishing flock of God. We must not trust in our own merits at all, but in the merits of Jesus of Nazareth. Our eyes must be anointed with eye-salve. We must draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to us, if we come in His own appointed way.” The Review and Herald, March 11, 1890.

“The law itself would have no glory, only that in it Christ is embodied.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 237.

“Jesus was a living illustration of the fulfillment of the law, but His fulfilling it did not mean its abolition and annihilation. In fulfilling the law, He carried out every specification of its claims.” The Signs of the Times, March 14, 1895.

  • How does the “epistle of Christ” become more glorious than when God’s moral law was written in tables of stone only? Jeremiah 31:31–33; II Corinthians 3:3.

Note: “Paul desires his brethren to see that the great glory of a sin-pardoning Saviour gave significance to the entire Jewish economy. He desired them to see also that when Christ came to the world, and died as man’s sacrifice, type met antitype.

“After Christ died on the cross as a sin offering, the ceremonial law could have no force. Yet it was connected with the moral law, and was glorious. The whole bore the stamp of divinity, and expressed the holiness, justice, and righteousness of God. And if the ministration of the dispensation to be done away was glorious, how much more must the reality be glorious, when Christ was revealed, giving His life-giving, sanctifying Spirit to all who believe?” Selected Messages, Book 1, 237, 238.


  • What happens when our attention is focused on the glory of God? I Corinthians 15:49; Romans 12:2.

Note: “In representing Christ we represent God to our world. … Are we reflecting in the church and before the world the character of Jesus Christ?” Selected Messages, Book 3, 170.

  • What happens when someone receives the righteousness of the law in Christ? Romans 8:4, 9–13. Describe the power that changes the heart and the affections. Matthew 13:33.

Note: “[Christ] uses leaven to illustrate the gospel of the kingdom. With this leaven, the word of God, true goodness, righteousness, and peace are introduced. This brings the entire affections into conformity to the mind and will of God. Wherever it goes, the leaven of truth makes a change in mind and heart. The entire character is transformed. All who will receive into the heart the truth as it is in Jesus, will reveal its leavening power. When the kingdom of heaven is established in the heart, the whole character is conformed to the character of Christ; for the truth is a life-giving principle. The power of God is working, like the leaven, to subdue the entire being. Even the thoughts are brought into captivity to the will of Christ. ‘If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new’ (II Corinthians 5:17).” The Review and Herald, September 21, 1897.


1 When you look into the law of God, what do you see?

2 What was the mission of Christ in relation to the law of God?

3 How is the greater glory of the work of God to affect us today?

4 What happens when we see Christ in the law of Ten Commandments?

5 What takes place in your heart when you are focused on the glory of God?

Copyright © 2013 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – Our Need for God’s Law

October 26, 2014 – November 1, 2014

Trusting in the Love of Jesus

Key Text

“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Galatians 3:24.

Study Help: Steps to Christ, 57–65.


“The glory of Christ is revealed in the law, which is a transcript of His character, and His transforming efficacy is felt upon the soul until men become changed to His likeness.” The Review and Herald, April 22, 1902.


  • Who is the law of God made for, and for what purpose? How many have come under its condemnation? I Timothy 1:8–10; Romans 3:19, 23.
  • Why are our own efforts in keeping God’s law not enough to justify us before God? How only can we keep the law? Romans 3:20; 7:7; Philippians 4:13.

Note: “He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law, is attempting an impossibility. Man cannot be saved without obedience, but his works should not be of himself; Christ should work in him to will and to do of His good pleasure. If a man could save himself by his own works, he might have something in himself in which to rejoice. The effort that man makes in his own strength to obtain salvation, is represented by the offering of Cain. All that man can do without Christ is polluted with selfishness and sin; but that which is wrought through faith is acceptable to God. When we seek to gain heaven through the merits of Christ, the soul makes progress. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, we may go on from strength to strength, from victory to victory; for through Christ the grace of God has worked out our complete salvation.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 364.


  • What is the schoolmaster referred to in Galatians? Galatians 3:21–25.

Note: “What law is the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ? I answer: Both the ceremonial and the moral code of ten commandments.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 233.

  • What work does the law as a schoolmaster do, and for what purpose? Romans 10:4. Compare the way the word “end” (Greek, telos, purpose, or goal, or end in view) is used in James 5:11 and I Peter 1:9.

Note: “As the sinner looks into the great moral looking glass, he sees his defects of character. He sees himself just as he is, spotted, defiled, and condemned. But he knows that the law cannot in any way remove the guilt or pardon the transgressor. He must go farther than this. The law is but the schoolmaster to bring him to Christ. He must look to his sin-bearing Saviour.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 213.

  • What relationship exists between the “schoolmaster” and faith in Jesus? Romans 5:1; 3:31; 8:3, 4.

Note: “The law reveals sin to us, and causes us to feel our need of Christ and to flee unto Him for pardon and peace by exercising repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 234.

“Only by faith in Christ can the sinner be cleansed from guilt and be enabled to render obedience to the law of his Maker.” The Acts of the Apostles, 425.

“The law and the gospel are in perfect harmony. Each upholds the other. In all its majesty the law confronts the conscience, causing the sinner to feel his need of Christ as the propitiation for sin. The gospel recognizes the power and immutability of the law. ‘I had not known sin, but by the law,’ Paul declares (Romans 7:7). The sense of sin, urged home by the law, drives the sinner to the Saviour. In his need man may present the mighty arguments furnished by the cross of Calvary. He may claim the righteousness of Christ; for it is imparted to every repentant sinner.” The Review and Herald, April 22, 1902.


  • What was God’s purpose in giving His law to Israel at Sinai, and what is the condition for life under this law? Exodus 20:20; Leviticus 18:5; Romans 10:5.

Note: “When the law was proclaimed from Sinai, God made known to men the holiness of His character, that by contrast they might see the sinfulness of their own. The law was given to convict them of sin, and reveal their need of a Saviour. It would do this as its principles were applied to the heart by the Holy Spirit. This work it is still to do. In the life of Christ the principles of the law are made plain; and as the Holy Spirit of God touches the heart, as the light of Christ reveals to men their need of His cleansing blood and His justifying righteousness, the law is still an agent in bringing us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.” The Signs of the Times, March 29, 1910.

  • Why did Israel fail to keep God’s law even though they professed great zeal for it? Romans 10:3.

Note: “Israel had not perceived the spiritual nature of the law, and too often their professed obedience was but an observance of forms and ceremonies, rather than a surrender of the heart to the sovereignty of love.” Reflecting Christ, 67.

  • What are the “better promises” upon which the new covenant was established? Hebrews 8:6; Jeremiah 31:33, 34.

Note: “The ‘new covenant’ was established upon ‘better promises’ Hebrews 8:6—the promise of forgiveness of sins and of the grace of God to renew the heart and bring it into harmony with the principles of God’s law. …

“The same law that was engraved upon the tables of stone is written by the Holy Spirit upon the tables of the heart. Instead of going about to establish our own righteousness we accept the righteousness of Christ. His blood atones for our sins. His obedience is accepted for us. Then the heart renewed by the Holy Spirit will bring forth ‘the fruits of the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:22, 23). Through the grace of Christ we shall live in obedience to the law of God written upon our hearts. Having the Spirit of Christ, we shall walk even as He walked.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 372.


  • What is the only genuine measurement of character? James 2:8–12.

Note: “The law of God is the only genuine standard for the measurement of character. Christ displayed to the world by His life and teaching, by His divine character, what obedience to the law means. He was man’s example; but man cannot set up a standard for himself. Man is ignorant of the infinite purity of God, and without divine enlightenment he cannot appreciate the holy exactions of the law of God. While he is ignorant of the uncompromising character of God’s law, he is unconcerned about his defective, sinful character. He fears nothing, he has no disquietude, because he measures himself by a false standard.” The Review and Herald, November 18, 1890.

  • What will determine whether God’s character is revealed in our thoughts and actions? Matthew 22:36–40; Romans 13:10.

Note: “Only he whose heart is filled with compassion for fallen man, who loves to a purpose, revealing that love by the performance of Christ-like deeds, will be able to endure the seeing of Him who is invisible. He who loves not those for whom the Father has done so much knows not God.

“Theology is valueless unless it is saturated with the love of Christ. True Christianity diffuses love through the whole being. It touches every vital part—the brain, the heart, the helping hands, the feet—enabling men to stand firmly where God requires them to stand, lest the lame be turned out of the way. The burning, consuming love of Christ for perishing souls is the life of the whole system of Christianity.” The Signs of the Times, May 10, 1910.

  • What will be seen in the life of those who have genuine faith in Christ? James 1:22–27.

Note: “Faith works by love and purifies the soul. Faith buds and blossoms and bears a harvest of precious fruit. Where faith is, good works appear. The sick are visited, the poor are cared for, the fatherless and the widows are not neglected, the naked are clothed, the destitute are fed.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 398.


  • What attitude did Christ manifest towards the law of God? Matthew 5:17–20.

Note: “Jesus was a living illustration of the fulfillment of the law, but His fulfilling it did not mean its abolition and annihilation. In fulfilling the law, He carried out every specification of its claims.” The Signs of the Times, March 14, 1895.

“In His teachings, Christ showed how far-reaching are the principles of the law spoken from Sinai. He made a living application of that law whose principles remain forever the great standard of righteousness—the standard by which all shall be judged in that great day when the judgment shall sit, and the books shall be opened.” God’s Amazing Grace, 141.

  • What shows that Christ was a living demonstration to humanity of the law of God? I Peter 2:21, 22; John 15:10; I John 2:6.

Note: “The glory of Christ is His character, and His character is an expression of the law of God. He fulfilled the law in its every specification, and gave to the world in His life a perfect pattern of what it is possible for humanity to attain unto by cooperation with divinity. In His humanity Christ was dependent upon the Father, even as humanity is now dependent upon God for divine power in attaining unto perfection of character.” The Signs of the Times, December 12, 1895.


1 On whose promises was the old covenant founded?

2 On whose promises was the new covenant founded?

3 Who is it that makes us obedient to God?

4 Are we operating under the old covenant today if we depend on our own promises rather than on God’s promises?

5 What led the heroes of the Bible to see their need of Jesus?

Copyright © 2013 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.