How Healthy is Adventist Eschatology? A Missiological Imbalance (Part 6)


Beside the fact that I doubt you know what I think, I am not sure to understand what you mean by that.

I think that you misunderstand what Paul is saying and also I think that you neglect texts in the Bible that say what the new covenant is about.

Yes, the old covenant is done and there is a new one. But what is the new covenant about? God, in the Old Testament said that the new covenant was about writing the law in our hearts, whereas the old covenant was based on the law written in tables of stone.

Whereas in the old covenant people tried to follow the letter of the law (Jesus:“You have heard that…”), in the new covenant, people are asked to follow the spirit of the law (Jesus:“but I tell you…”).

(Frankmer7) #303

The Pauline letters do not contrast the spirit of the law with the letter of the law. They contrast the person and power of the Spirit with the written code of the Law itself… also known as letter.

The question that was central, because of the charges that Paul constantly faced of preaching an antinomian gospel, was: Is the Spirit enough to birth, empower, and produce the fruit that God is looking for in individuals and in his community of believers in Christ? Jewish Christian teachers were saying no, and calling for Gentile believers to be brought under the whole written code, via circumcision. This implied not just rituals and ceremonies. This meant the obligation of keeping the entire Torah/ Law, and having their lives regulated by its letter, whether they realized it or not, which Paul says in Galatians 5.

They were saying that the Spirit was not enough. Paul was saying that the Spirit was…see Galatians 3:1-5. The fruit that the Spirit would produce, totally apart from living under the Sinai covenant arrangement and its letter, would be the very fulfillment of what God was looking for, faith that expresses itself in love. Love that is seen in individuals and a community characterized by joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, kindness, self control, etc. This is the experience of the law written upon the heart. This is what it looks like. Nowhere did Paul bring the letter of the old in through the backdoor to produce this.

In fact, trying to do this would end in frustration and a short circuiting of what the Spirit was looking to do and create within and amongst the people of God in Christ. Like pouring new wine into old wineskins. The one can’t contain the other.

I would suggest that we have our own version of this within Adventism today.



(Cfowler) #304

Interesting…but, I don’t think that’s what he’s referring to. I think he’s referring to the ten commandments…letters engraved on stone.

(Steve Mga) #305

Yes. Paul was bringing a Whole NEW PARADIGM of relationship with God, to God.
It was Action that Burst Forth from WITHIN the New Creation.
NOT Action based upon Following a SET of Rules or Regulations.
It was Action based upon the WANTING TO DO.
Not Action based upon HAVING TO DO.

Galatians 5:19,20,21. These are EMOTIONAL responses.
Immature Childish – Adolescent Behaviors.
A.A. Step 5 – Admitted to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature
of our wrongs."
Step 6 – “Were entirely ready to have God remove all of these defects of Character.”
Step 7 – “Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.”
vs. 22. Choice – I choose. Adult Mature Behaviors.
“Love – affection for others
Joy – Exuberance about life
Peace – Serenity
Patience – A willingness to stick with things
Kindness – A sense of compassion in the heart
Goodness – A conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and others
Faithfulness – Involved in loyal commitments
Gentleness – No needing to force my way in life.
Self Control – Able to marshal and direct my energies wisely.” –
– Peter Scazzero, “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality”. pg 20.
Step 11-- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact
with God, as I understand God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for me and
the power to carry that out.


Ok, Frank, let’s see:

  • Do you believe that we should not have other gods than God?
  • Do you believe that we should not have idols?
  • Do you believe that we should not take the name of God in vain?
  • Do you believe that we should honor our parents?
  • Do you believe that we should not kill?
  • Do you believe that we should not commit adultery?
  • Do you believe that we should not steal?
  • Do you believe that we should not bear false witness?
  • Do you believe that we should not covet?

If you answered yet to all the questions, congratulations, you are keeping 9 out of the 10 commandments that were supposed to be for the old covenant.

Now, can you tell me why you are doing that?!?!?!


He was speaking about the ministry. The ministry was about salvation, justification through sacrifices, the most important being those taking place during the Day of Atonement. Blood was to be put of the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant, the mercy seat being just above the Ten Commandments.

(Frankmer7) #308

From your paradigm of the Law this argument makes total sense. But, I’m looking at it from what I see the arguments of letters such as Romans and Galatians are saying, that the Law was a covenant made with one people in history, and with the coming of the Messiah its time was over. It was not to be imposed as the way of life upon Gentile believers, as the condition for belonging to the people of God.

The guide for morality for individuals and the community was now the crucified Christ and his love. The empowerment to live this was the Spirit. The ultimate conviction of sin came from pointing people to him, not to the law…a far higher standard of what it means to be truly human in the image of God.

This did not preclude Paul and the other writers from drawing from the Law for instruction. But, Paul also drew from other sources as well, including Greek household tables, for moral example and guidance. But, he most notably refers back to Christ’s love rather than commandments for the ultimate guidance:

"Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Eph.5:25

"If your brother is distressed by what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died." Rom.14:15

Paul, in these instances, doesn’t refer his audience to commandments or food laws from the Old Covenant to guide their behavior, he refers them to Christ like, other centered love. There are many other instances of this in his letters.

Finally, I find it interesting that when Paul lists what would disqualify people from the kingdom of God, most notably in 1 Cor. 6, he says this:

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Cor. 6:9-10

To a liberal church, as the one in Corinth, Paul lays it on the line, and refers to behaviors that clearly don’t align with Christ and the kingdom, but also are condemned by the Law. But, he never mentions Sabbath breaking in this list. He never mentioned it anywhere as disqualification for the kingdom. In none of his letters, to any of his churches. Neither did any other NT letters to the churches. In light of the fact that under the Old Covenant, sabbath breaking was an offense worthy of death, why is this so? Why would it never be mentioned as placing a person outside of the kingdom in the New Covenant?

To say that it was simply assumed would be nonsensical. That would not only be arguing from silence, it would make the mention of other obvious disqualifying sins just as nonsensical. To say that it wasn’t an issue because all the early Christians were keeping it would also be absurd. Sabbath breaking was an issue throughout the OT. Do we really think it would have just disappeared in the NT, or just in the apostolic churches, especially among those who never kept it before? Also, why do we feel it necessary to say that a person can be disfellowshipped for sabbath breaking in the SDA church, but it is never mentioned as a disqualifier from the kingdom in the NT?

In light of all this, could it possibly be that sabbath observance was no longer a binding requirement for believers, especially for Gentiles who had come to faith in the Messiah, and received his Spirit, totally separate from the Law, as it says in Romans and Galatians? Could this be why Paul never mentions it anywhere as a condition for belonging to the kingdom, and never gives a single iota of instruction on how to keep it, especially to gentile congregations?

Look, I approach this as a long time SDA who has kept the Sabbath for years. These are not conclusions that I have come to lightly. In fact, I still value stopping work and distractions, and taking unbroken time for God and family. As an Adventist, It has been ingrained into the rhythm of my life.

But, I simply cannot ignore the lack of solid evidence for sabbath keeping as a requirement for belonging to Christ and the kingdom of God in the NT. I just see too much in the letters of the NT, especially as these issues of Law, Covenant, and Sabbath pertain to Gentiles, to conclude that it is still binding. Nor can I see it as the eschatological sign of God’s people that will result in world wide persecution. That doesn’t even reflect the present multi cultural, religiously pluralistic, and largely secular reality of the world in which we live.

Paul certainly never discusses sabbath observance as one of the essential matters of the kingdom. I tend to think he classified it as a shadow, one of the more disputable matters of Christian life, fellowship, and belonging. Why can’t we see other Christians in the same way, on equal fellowship and footing, as we all seek to glorify God in Christ?



(James Peterson) #309

Unfortunately, this thread shuts down in 13 hours. I will take up this topic again in heaven with those who are interested and replied to my posts. Until then:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it [something to strive for] to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

How much more, we who crawled out of the dust and were never clothed in majesty like He was, should we not humble ourselves in our proper station? Nevertheless, He has given us hope in spite of our lowly estate, and for that we are eternally grateful.

1 John 3:1-3


(Spectrumbot) #310

This topic was automatically closed after 30 days. New replies are no longer allowed.