What does God say about the death penalty and capital punishment?

What does God say about the death penalty and capital punishment? By Jack Kettler

As in previous studies, we will look at definitions, scriptures, lexical, and commentary evidence for the purpose to glorify God in how we live.

What does the Bible say about the death penalty / capital punishment?

Answer: The Old Testament law commanded the death penalty for various acts: murder (Exodus 21:12), kidnapping (Exodus 21:16), bestiality (Exodus 22:19), adultery (Leviticus 20:10), homosexuality (Leviticus 20:13), being a false prophet (Deuteronomy 13:5), prostitution and rape (Deuteronomy 22:24), and several other crimes. *

Capital offense:

A crime, such as murder or betrayal of God or one’s country, which is so severe that death is a fitting sentence.

The Scriptures:

The first institution of the death penalty is in the book of Genesis.

“Whoever sheds the blood of man; by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” (Genesis 9:6 ESV)

A list of capital offenses listed in the Old Testament Covenant:

False religious activities

· Sacrificing to gods other than YAHWEH – Exodus 22:20

· Passing children through the fire – Leviticus 18:21; 2Chronicles 33:6

· False prophecy – Deuteronomy 13:9

· Necromancy using magic that involves communication with the dead – Leviticus 20:27

· Blasphemy – Leviticus 24:13–16

· Sabbath-breaking – Numbers 15:35-36

Forbidden sexual activities

· Rape by a man of an engaged woman – Deuteronomy 22:25

· Adultery – Leviticus 20:10

· Incest – Leviticus 18:9; Leviticus 20:11

· Homosexuality – Leviticus 20:13

· Bestiality – Leviticus 20:15–16

· A woman who has been engaged to a man and he discovers that she is not a virgin, she may be stoned to death for prostituting herself – Deuteronomy 22:13-21

· Prostitution by the daughter of a priest – Leviticus 21:9

Ten Commandments and case law violations

· Witchcraft, sorcery – Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:27

· Idolatry – Deuteronomy 17:1-7

· Murder – Exodus 21:12

· Smiting a parent – Exodus 21:15

· Cursing a parent – Exodus 21:17

· A son who is incorrigible and habitually disobeys his parents – Deuteronomy 21:18-21

· Kidnapping – Exodus 21:16

· Contempt for God’s court – Deuteronomy 17:8-12

· Bearing false witness to a capital crime – Proverbs 19:5; Deuteronomy 19:19

In the New Covenant era, many capital crimes have still mandated the death penalty. For example:

Kidnapping resulting in death, bearing false witness to a capital crime, murder, rape of children, terrorism and mass murder, treason, espionage, and incorrigible sinners, i.e. third-time felons have historically mandated the death penalty.

There is a debate on other capital crimes from the Old Testament listed above and the abiding demands of God’s law. Were the above capital crimes part of the ceremonial or part of the moral law or judicial law? The ceremonial aspects of the law, i.e., the temple and priestly activities passed away in Christ. Did the moral and judicial law pass away in Christ?

How does a society develop a law system that involves retribution for specific crimes?

The reader should consult the magisterial 3-volume work by John Eidsmoe titled Historical and Theological Foundations of Law. After reading this work by Eidsmoe, it is hard to dispute that American constitutional law is undergirded with the Ten Commandments and Old Testament case laws found in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy.

King Alfred the Great of England (849-899) used the Ten Commandments and accompanying case laws in his Book of Laws for England. Today almost universally, the Ten Commandments inspire and continue in the form of modern laws against murder, adultery, and theft. Where did these laws come from if not the Old Testament?

Did Jesus repudiate the Old Testament law?

Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17-18).

This seems quite clear that the law is still valid. The only question that arises is what is meant by fulfill. Whatever “fulfil” means it cannot contradict the fact that “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass from the law…” as Jesus said.

Additionally, Jesus says “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19)

Jesus goes on, “For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death” (Matthew 15:4). What death? Jesus is quoting, “And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death” (Exodus 21:17). Jesus is not repudiating the law. His teaching in Matthew 15:4 is consistent his previous teaching “Think not that I am come to destroy the law… in Matthew 5:17.”

Consider Greg L. Bahnsen’s exegesis on Matthew 5:17-19:

“Matthew 5:17 -19. Nothing could be clearer than that Christ here denies twice (for the sake of emphasis) that His coming has abrogated the Old Testament law: “Do not think that I came to abolish the law or the prophets; I did not come to abolish.” Again, nothing could be clearer than this: not even the least significant aspect of the Old Testament law will lose its validity until the end of the world: “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the slightest letter or stroke shall pass away from the law.” And if there could remain any doubt in our minds as to the meaning of the Lord’s teaching here, He immediately removes it by applying His attitude toward the law to our behavior: “Therefore whoever annuls one of the least of these commandments and teaches others so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” Christ’s coming did not abrogate anything in the Old Testament law, for every single stroke of the law will abide until the passing away of this world; consequently, the follower of Christ is not to teach that even the least Old Testament requirement has been invalidated by Christ and His work. As the Psalmist declared, “Every one of Thy righteous ordinances is everlasting” (Psalm 119:160).

So then, all of life is ethical, and ethics requires a standard of right and wrong. For the Christian that yardstick is found in the Bible – the entire Bible, from beginning to end. The New Testament believer repudiates the teaching of the law itself, of the Psalms, of James, of Paul and of Jesus Himself when the Old Testament commandments of God are ignored or treated as a mere antiquated standard of justice and righteousness. “The word of our God shall stand forever” (Isa. 40: 8), and the Old Testament law is part of every word from God’s mouth by which we must live (Matt. 4: 4).” (1)

More on the Matthew text from Bahnsen and Kenneth Gentry:

“Jesus and the Law The decisive word on this point is that of our Lord Himself as found in Matthew 5:17-19. Since the moral demands of God’s law continue to be deemed good and holy and right in the New Testament, and since those demands were from the beginning obligatory upon Jews and Gentiles alike, it would be senseless to think that Christ came in order to cancel mankind’s responsibility to keep them. It is theologically incredible that the mission of Christ was to make it morally acceptable now for men to blaspheme, murder, rape, steal, gossip, or envy! Christ did not come to change our evaluation of God’s laws from that of holy to unholy, obligatory to optional, or perfect to flawed.

Listen to His own testimony:

Do not begin to think that I came to abrogate the Law or the Prophets; I came not to abrogate but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, until all things have happened, not one jot or tittle shall by any means pass away from the law. Therefore, whoever shall break one of these least commandments and teach men so shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17-19).

Several points about the interpretation of this passage should be rather clear. (1) Christ twice denied that His advent had the purpose of abrogating the Old Testament commandments. (2) Until the expiration of the physical universe, not even a letter or stroke of the law will pass away. And (3) therefore God’s disapprobation rests upon anyone who teaches that even the least of the Old Testament laws may be broken. The underlying ethical principles or duties which are communicated in the minute details (jot and tittle) of the law of God, down to its least significant provision, should be reckoned to have an abiding validity — until and unless the Lawgiver reveals otherwise.” (2)

We can conclude that “fulfill” in Matthew does not mean to abrogate!

How do the principles of God’s law find application in the modern world?

Consulting Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XIX of the Law of God, we find:

“IV. To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not obliging under any now, further than the general equity thereof may require.”

How do we understand this?

Of course, something has changed between the Old and New Covenants. In Point IV, the Westminster Confession says that the judicial laws of Israel have EXPIRED. The confession then qualifies this with “not obliging under any now, further than the general equity thereof may require.” In modern parlance, it means that there may be reasons to retain some parts of a particular law by way of keeping a principle contained within the law along with a contemporary application.

What is the confession getting at when it says, “may require?” Are there are binding principles that in some cases are relevant to modern society. Understanding this continuation of biblical principles will open up a completely new way of looking at God’s law.

For example:

“You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). Who would argue that this law has passed away and has no relevance today? Modern juries still try to determine first-degree or second-degree murder convictions that come right out of the Old Covenant case law. See Numbers 35:22-24 for cases involving unintentional death.

In addition, prohibitions against lying, murder, adultery, stealing are still valid today.

Similarly, consider this passage:

“When you build a new house, you must build a railing around the edge of its flat roof. That way you will not be considered guilty of murder if someone falls from the roof.” (Deuteronomy 22:8)

Modern applications of Deuteronomy 22:8:

Having a fence around your swimming pool. Having your yard fenced in if, you have a potentially vicious dog. Some buildings and apartments have rooftop recreational areas. Of course, you would want some type of barrier or railing for protection of your houseguests.

Bottom line, it is about protecting your neighbor and limiting your responsibility. This passage from Deuteronomy has incredible applications today.

The general equity of the law demands the protection of your neighbor as Jesus taught:

“The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31)

Therefore, judicial law cannot be altogether invalid since the New Testament sustains its abiding usage by Paul. “All Scripture is useful” (2Timothy 3:16-17), which must include Old Testament case laws regarding capital crimes.

If no part of the Old Testament law continues, then the death penalty for murder must go too.

The death penalty in history from two notable theologians:

St. Augustine writes in The City of God:

“However, there are some exceptions made by the divine authority to its own law, that men may not be put to death. These exceptions are of two kinds, being justified either by a general law, or by a special commission granted for a time to some individual. And in this latter case, he to whom authority is delegated, and who is but the sword in the hand of him who uses it, is not himself responsible for the death he deals. And, accordingly, they who have waged war in obedience to the divine command, or in conformity with His laws have represented in their persons the public justice or the wisdom of government, and in this capacity have put to death wicked men; such persons have by no means violated the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” Abraham indeed was not merely deemed guiltless of cruelty, but was even applauded for his piety, because he was ready to slay his son in obedience to God, not to his own passion. And it is reasonably enough made a question, whether we are to esteem it to have been in compliance with a command of God that Jephthah killed his daughter, because she met him when he had vowed that he would sacrifice to God whatever first met him as he returned victorious from battle. Samson, too, who drew down the house on himself and his foes together, is justified only on this ground, that the Spirit who wrought wonders by him had given him secret instructions to do this. With the exception, then, of these two classes of cases, which are justified either by a just law that applies generally or by a special intimation from God Himself, the fountain of all justice, whoever kills a man, either himself or another, is implicated in the guilt of murder.” (3)

In his Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas asserts:

“Our Lord commanded them to forbear from uprooting the cockle in order to spare the wheat, i.e. the good. This occurs when the wicked cannot be slain without the good being killed with them, either because the wicked lie hidden among the good or because they have many followers, so that they cannot be killed without danger to the good, as Augustine says (Contra Parmen. iii, 2). Wherefore our Lord teaches that we should rather allow the wicked to live, and that vengeance is to be delayed until the last judgment, rather than that the good be put to death together with the wicked. When, however, the good incur no danger, but rather are protected and saved by the slaying of the wicked, then the latter may be lawfully put to death.

According to the order of His wisdom, God sometimes slays sinners forthwith in order to deliver the good, whereas sometimes He allows them time to repent, according as He knows what is expedient for His elect. This also does human justice imitate according to its powers; for it puts to death those who are dangerous to others, while it allows time for repentance to those who sin without grievously harming others.” (4)

A contemporary analysis:

Capital Punishment by John M. Frame:

“Is there a place for capital punishment in a humane, civilized society? Or is it a relic of our barbarous past, best left far behind us?

It is not hard to develop a case against capital punishment. Perhaps the gut-level argument is the strongest: emotionally, we hate to see anyone die, even a vicious criminal. No one, certainly no Christian, can take lightly the death of another person. And the media have encouraged this understandable — and good — revulsion. When Jimmy Cagney goes to the chair, we identify with him, not with the wardens or even the priest. We are the ones going to the end of the line. We want to save Jimmy because we would like to save ourselves. It is a case of the golden rule. And we sympathize, not only with appealing murderers like the one Cagney played, but even with the heartless characters of In Cold Blood. We don’t want to see anyone die.

The more “rational” arguments often push us in the same direction. What good does capital punishment accomplish? Statistics seem to indicate that capital punishment does not deter crime: where capital punishment applies to a particular crime, it does not appear that the rate of that crime is less than in places where lesser penalties obtain. So why should we do such a hideous thing? Is it finally a simple matter of revenge? And can there be any place for revenge in the laws of a compassionate people?

Thus, for about ten years, there were no executions in the United States. To many, it must have seemed that our society had outgrown its vengeful spirit. Toward the end of that period, indeed, it did seem impossible that we would ever return to capital punishment. When Gary Gilmore begged the courts to let him die, it seemed too many of us that it would never happen; there would always be another legal loophole. And yet it happened! Gilmore did die for his crime. And suddenly, a return to capital punishment as a general procedure is not so hard to conceive. State laws, in fact, have been moving in precisely that direction.

What is this all about? A failure of love? A national frustration over crime, leading to judicial vindictiveness?

Not entirely. There are some persuasive arguments in favor of capital punish­ment. If capital punishment has not been shown to deter crime, this fact may be due to the inconsistent, capricious way in which this penalty has been applied in the past. To many criminals, the death penalty has not been perceived as the certain consequence of their crimes. Further, there are some crimes for which it is hard to imagine any deterrent other than capital punishment: killing by someone already serving a life sentence, killing of witnesses to a crime, etc. And many have found this consideration to be a powerful one: even if executing a criminal does not deter others from commit­ting the crime in question, it certainly deters him. An executed murderer will never kill again.

But is the emotional point that is hardest to overcome. How can we bring ourselves to tolerate a procedure which we really hate — without at the same time dulling that moral sensitivity which has led us to care for the murderer? Many have overcome that emotional objection by an equally valid emotional point on the other side: sympathy for the victim, and sympathy for possible future victims. Charles Bronson in “Death Wish” played a liberal who turned vigilante when his wife and daughter were attacked. And there is that old political crack: “A conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged.”

There is something to that. But we must be careful that our “sympathy for the victim” does not degenerate into the kind of autonomous vengeance so strikingly por­trayed in “Death Wish.” We need firmer ground to stand on.

Most of us have learned the ethic of love, directly or indirectly, from the Bible. Yet the Bible, remarkably enough, endorses capital punishment quite regularly. God himself prescribed the shedding of blood as a punishment for violent crimes (Gen. 9:6), and during the time of Moses God gave to Israel a long list of capital offenses. There is no tension in Scripture, either, between an Old Testament law of vengeance and a New Testament law of love. The Old Testament teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Lev. 19:18) and specifically forbids illegal killing (Ex. 20:13), while the New Testament accepts gratefully the power of the sword exercised by the civil ruler (Rom. 13:1-6; Acts 25:11; Luke 23:41) — when used justly. Scripture knows no opposition between love and capital punishment, or between “Thou shalt not kill” and the legal “shedding of blood.” And that is where the argument must end. The God of love, who taught us all we know about love, has also told us that in a sinful world a com­passionate society must take strong measures to protect the safety of innocent people, to prevent the violent from ruling by terror.

What is too often missing from our moral emotions today is the biblical hatred of sin, the realization of its horror, its utter ugliness in the sight of God. Scripture tells us that a sin, not just murder, deserves death (Rom. 6:23); we all deserve to die. It is only God’s great compassion, which permits any of us to go on living. When God ordains the capital punishment of murderers, this is not some extraordinary cruelty against them; it is merely a picture of what we all deserve in God’s sight. God’s full compassion is seen, not in any sentimental easing of laws against murder, but in sending his Son Jesus Christ to die for all of us who deserve death. To Jesus, even a dying criminal may cry for mercy (Luke 23:42f.) and receive forgiveness, with remission of that eternal punishment which is far worse than anything known on earth. The compassion of society is seen as it recognizes the reality of sin and the need to curb sin’s violent expressions, and as it holds out the gospel of Christ in love, even to those who have despised it. Thus, it will love the victim and the criminal, and it will have a firm foundation in divine justice for making the hard choices that our own sin has made necessary.” (5)

At this point, some dictionary and encyclopedia entries will be profitable for general biblical knowledge:

Easton’s Bible Dictionary – Law a rule of action:

“The Law of Nature is the will of God as to human conduct, founded on the moral difference of things, and discoverable by natural light (Romans 1:20; Romans 2:14 Romans 2:15). This law binds all men at all times. It is generally designated by the term conscience or the capacity of being influenced by the moral relations of things.

The Ceremonial Law prescribes under the Old Testament the rites and ceremonies of worship. This law was obligatory only until Christ, of whom these rites were typical, had finished his work (Hebrews 7:9 Hebrews 7:11; 10:1; Ephesians 2:16.

The Judicial Law, the law, which directed the civil policy of the Hebrew nation.

The Moral Law is the revealed will of God as to human conduct, binding on all men to the end of time. It was promulgated at Sinai. It is perfect (Psalms 19:7), perpetual (Matthew 5:17 Matthew 5:18), holy (Romans 7:12), good, spiritual (14), and exceeding broad (Psalms 119:96). Although binding on all, we are not under it as a covenant of works (Galatians 3:17).

Positive Laws are precepts founded only on the will of God. They are right because God commands them.

Moral positive laws are commanded by God because they are right.” (6)

Surely, much wisdom can be learned from Israel’s judicial courts that were established by God.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia – Courts, Judicial:

“COURTS, JUDICIAL

joo-dish’-al, ju-dish’-al.

1. Their Organization:

At the advice of Jethro, Moses appointed judges (Exodus 18). In Egypt, it appears that the Hebrews did not have their own judges, which, of course, was a source of many wrongs. Leaving Egypt, Moses took the judicial functions upon himself, but it was impossible that he should be equal to the task of administering justice to two and one-half million people; hence, he proceeded to organize a system of jurisprudence. He appointed judges over tens, fifties, hundreds, thousands–in all 78,600 judges. This system was adequate for the occasion, and these courts respectively corresponded practically to our Justices of the Peace, Mayor’s Court, District Court, Circuit Court. Finally, there was a Supreme Court under Moses and his successors. These courts, though graded, did not afford an opportunity of appeal. The lower courts turned their difficult cases over to the next higher. If the case was simple, the judge over tens would take it, but if the question was too intricate for him, he would refer it to the next higher court, and so on until it finally reached Moses. There were certain kinds of questions which the tens, fifties, and hundreds would not take at all, and the people understood it and would bring them to the higher courts for original jurisdiction. When any court decided it, that was the end of that case, for it could not be appealed (Exodus 18:25, 26). On taking possession in Palestine, the judges were to be appointed for every city and vicinity (Deuteronomy 16:18), thus giving to all Israel a speedy and cheap method of adjudication. Though not so prescribed by the constitution, the judges at length were generally chosen from among the Levites, as the learned class. The office was elective. Josephus states this plainly, and various passages of the Scriptures express it positively by inference (see Deuteronomy 1:13). Jephthah’s election by vote of the people is clearly set forth (Judges 11:5-11).

2. Character of the Judges:

Among the Hebrews, the law was held very sacred; for God Himself had given it. Hence, those who administered the law were God’s special representatives, and their person was held correspondingly sacred. These circumstances placed upon them the duty of administering justice without respect to persons (Deuteronomy 1:17; 16:18). They were to be guided by the inalienable rights granted to every citizen by the Hebrew constitution:

(1) No man was to be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law (Numbers 35:9-34).

(2) Two or three witnesses were required to convict anyone of crime (Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:2-13).

(3) Punishment for crime was not to be transferred or entailed (Deuteronomy 24:16).

(4) A man’s home was inviolate (Deuteronomy 24:10, 11).

(5) One held to bondage but having acquired liberty through his own effort should be protected (Deuteronomy 23:15, 16).

(6) One’s homestead was inalienable (Leviticus 25:23-28, 34).

(7) Slavery could not be made perpetual without the person’s own consent (Exodus 21:2-6).

3. Their Work:

Gradually a legal profession developed among the Hebrews, the members of which were designated as “Lawyers” or “Scribes” also known as “Doctors of the Law” (Luke 2:46). Their business was threefold:

(1) to study and interpret the law;

(2) to instruct the Hebrew youth in the law; and

(3) to decide questions of the law. The first two they did as scholars and teachers; the last either as judges or as advisers in some court, as, for instance, the Senate of Jerusalem or some inferior tribunal. No code can go into such details as to eliminate the necessity of subsequent legislation, and this usually, to a great extent, takes the form of judicial decisions founded on the code, rather than of separate enactment; and so it was among the Hebrews. The provisions of their code were for the most part quite general, thus affording large scope for casuistic interpretation. Regarding the points not explicitly covered by the written law, a substitute must be found either in the form of established custom or in the form of an inference drawn from the statute.

As a result of the industry with which this line of legal development was pursued during the centuries immediately preceding our era, Hebrew law became a most complicated science. For the disputed points, the judgments of the individual lawyers could not be taken as the standard; hence, the several disciples of the law must frequently meet for a discussion, and the opinion of the majority then prevailed. These were the meetings of the “Doctors.” Whenever a case arose concerning which there had been no clear legal decision, the question was referred to the nearest lawyer; by him, to the nearest company of lawyers, perhaps the Sanhedrin, and the resultant decision was henceforth authority.

Before the destruction of Jerusalem, technical knowledge of the law was not a condition of eligibility to the office of judge. Anyone who could command the confidence of his fellow-citizens might be elected, and many of the rural courts undoubtedly were conducted, as among us, by men of sterling quality, but limited knowledge. Such men would avail themselves of the legal advice of any “doctor” who might be within reach; and in the more dignified courts of a large municipality it was a standing custom to have a company of lawyers present to discuss and decide any new law points that might arise. Of course, frequently these men were themselves elected to the office of judge, so that practically the entire system of jurisprudence was in their hands.

4. Limitations under Roman Rule:

Though Judea at this time was a subject commonwealth, yet the Sanhedrin, which was the body of supreme legislative and judicial authority, exercised autonomous authority to such an extent that it not only administered civil cases in accordance with Jewish law–for without such a right a Jewish court would be impossible–but it also took part to a great extent in the punishment of crime. It exercised an independent police power, hence, could send out its own officers to make arrests (Matthew 26:47; Mark 14:43; Acts 4:3; 5:17, 18). In cases that did not involve capital punishment, its judgments were final and untrammeled (Acts 4:2-23; 5:21-40). Only in capital punishment cases must the consent of the procurator be secured, which is not only clearly stated in John 18:31, but is also evident in the entire course of Christ’s trial, as reported by the Synoptic Gospels. In granting or withholding his consent in such cases, the procurator could follow his pleasure absolutely, applying either the Jewish or Roman law, as his guide. In one class of cases the right to inflict capital punishment even on Roman citizens was granted the Sanhedrin, namely, when a non-Jewish person overstepped the bounds and entered the interior holy place of the temple. Even in this case the consent of the procurator must be secured, but it appears that the Roman rulers were inclined to let the law take its course against such wanton outrage of the Jews’ feelings. Criminal cases not involving capital punishment need not be referred to the procurator.

5. Time and Place of Sessions:

The city in which the Sanhedrin met was Jerusalem. To determine the particular building, and the spot on which the building stood, is interesting to the archaeologist, not to the student of law. The local courts usually held their sessions on the second and fifth day (Monday and Thursday) of the week, but we do not know whether the same custom was observed by the Great Sanhedrin. On feast days no court was held, much less on the Sabbath. Since the death penalty was not to be pronounced until the day after the trial, such cases were avoided also on the day preceding a Sabbath or other sacred day. The emphasis placed on this observance may be seen from the edicts issued by Augustus, absolving the Jews from the duty of attending court on the Sabbath.”

Frank E. Hirsch (7)

In closing, the influence of the Ten Commandments on Western legal systems:

“Our nation has a rich national tradition of depicting the Ten Commandments on government property. The history of official acknowledgment of the role of the Ten Commandments in American law and culture merely mirrors the “unbroken history of official acknowledgment by all three branches of government of the role of religion in American life.” Presidents, Congress, and the courts have acknowledged the Ten Commandments’ secular impact. The history of the Ten Commandments in the common law dates back to the Ninth Century when Alfred the Great placed them at the beginning of his Book of Dooms. Seven hundred years later, the most prominent jurists of the Protestant Reformation produced systematic legal treatises “basing the various branches of the law on the Ten Commandments. World in the seventeenth century, they deliberately enacted many, and sometimes all, of the Ten Commandments into their legal codes.” Three hundred years later, at the dawn of the twentieth century, “it continued to be widely believed, at least in the United States… [that] divine law, especially the Ten Commandments,” was one of “the ultimate sources of positive law.” Thus, for over a millennium, the Ten Commandments have influenced Western legal codes. Courts have routinely recognized the importance of the Ten Commandments as a source for American legal rules.

At the time of our Nation’s founding, the Ten Commandments were widely understood to have three distinct uses or dimensions -religious, moral, and civic. In fact, “two philosophers of Anglican connection, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, used the Commandments almost exclusively for their civic and moral significance.” setting forth rules governing relations between God and His people and the “second table” as setting forth rules governing relations between the people and each other. At the time of the founding, however, the idea of the moral and civic dimension in the Decalogue was not confined to the so-called “second table.” In his seminal work, The Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes interpreted the “first table” as laying out an entirely secular “law of sovereignty.” Thus, even secular philosophers found a secular significance in those commandments commonly viewed as defining man’s relation-ship to God. The Ten Commandments had widespread influence in early America.” (8)

As noted, the death penalty for murder is right or correct as seen in Genesis 9:6. This law against murder predates the Mosaic covenant. “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them” (Romans 2:15). From the beginning, God’s law has been stamped upon the human conscious. This testimony of God is what man tries to defeat “…and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (Romans 1:18)

If you are prejudiced against the Ten Commandments and the accompanying case laws, what do you purpose as an objective standard to put in its place? A majority consensus? Roman law, Greek law, Islamic law? The Judeo/Christian worldview has a solid legal tradition.

As seen from Christ’s teaching in Matthew, God’s moral law and specific binding principles from the judicial law are still in force.

Notes:

1. Greg L. Bahnsen, By This Standard, (Tyler, Texas, Institute for Christian Economics), p. 27-28.

2. Greg L. Bahnsen and Kenneth L. Gentry HOUSE DIVIDED THE BREAK-UP OF DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY, (Tyler, Texas, Institute for Christian Economics), p. 40-41.

3. Saint Augustine, The City of God, (New York, Random House), Book 1 Chap. 21, p. 27.

4. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiæ, Unabridged, 1Vol, (Stief Books, 2017), p. 473.

5. John M. Frame, Capital Punishment, Originally published in The New Community, a publication of Community Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Blue Bell, PA, Sept. 1977.

6. Smith’s Bible Dictionary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

7. Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), pp. 725-727.

8. Greg Abbott, current Governor of Texas, Upholding the Unbroken Tradition: Constitutional Acknowledgment of the Ten Commandments in the Public Square, (William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal 2005), p. 63-65.

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: http://www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

For more study:

* Got Questions https://www.gotquestions.org/

See God and Politics: Four Views On The Reformation Of Civil Government Theonomy, Principled Pluralism, Christian America, National Confessionalism by Gary Scott Smith

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What do we learn about Covenants in Scripture?

What do we learn about Covenants in Scripture? By Jack Kettler

Unfortunately, many believers do not understand the idea of covenant very well. Because of this deficiency of knowledge, the following survey will involve looking at several leading theologians and their writings on God’s covenants that will prove to be invaluable.

This study on God’s Covenants will be in-depth and will utilize some of the best theological sources available.

What is a covenant? A short definition:

A covenant is an agreement between two or more persons.

The Bible depicts a covenant as a way to define first the relationship within the triune God, and second between God and His people in redemptive history. A notable example of the second case of this is when God said, “And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you” (Genesis 17:7 ESV). This covenant in Genesis was made with Abraham and his posterity.

In historic Protestant Theology, a covenant is an interpretive grid for understanding the Scriptures. As will be seen, covenants play a central role in biblical theology. God’s covenants are the model for understanding how He works with humanity throughout history.

Moreover, covenant theology is the idea that God enters into a contract or agreement with humanity either individually or corporately, and there are agreements and stipulations involved between the parties of a covenant. In Genesis 17:7, the head of a family can enter into a covenant with God that includes their posterity for future generations. This covenantal understanding has enormous implications when considering the first man, Adam, and the work of Christ, the second Adam.

Consider an epic foundational covenant in Scripture:

“Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come” (Romans 5:14 ESV).

From the Romans passage, we see that both Adam and Christ are set forth as the covenantal heads of the human race, Adam is the first head of the fallen race and Christ the second Adam and head of the redeemed race.

Failure to understand the covenantal motif of Scripture is a failure to understand how God relates to man. The evangelist can ask what race a person is part of, Adam’s race or Christ’s race. To have salvation, one must be in the redeemed spiritual race of Christ.

Consider what Charles H. Spurgeon said about God’s covenant:

“ALL GOD’S dealings with men have had a covenant character. It hath so pleased Him to arrange it, that he will not deal with us except through a covenant, nor can we deal with Him except in the same manner. Adam in the garden was under a covenant with God and God was in covenant with Him.” (1) The highlighting of portions of the text is mine.

As seen from Spurgeon, God dealt with Adam through a covenant in Eden. The Adamic covenant is the name of this covenant.

Francis Turretin was a professor of theology at Geneva during the Reformation. Turretin explains what a covenant is:

“A covenant denotes the agreement of God with man by which God promises his goods (and especially eternal life to him), and by man, in turn, duty and worship are engaged…This is called two‐sided and mutual because it consists of a mutual obligation of the contracting parties: a promise on the part of God and stipulation of the condition on the part of man.” (2)

Herman Witsius was a Dutch theologian, pastor, and a leading professor of the seventeenth century. He concurs with Turretin:

“A covenant of God with man is an agreement between God, about the way of obtaining consummate happiness; including a commination of eternal destruction, with which the contemner of the happiness, offered in that way, is to be punished.” (3)

In this study of God’s covenants, we will look the Covenant of Redemption, the Covenant of Works, the Covenant of Grace, the Adamic covenant, the Noahic covenant, the Abrahamic covenant, the Mosaic covenant, the Davidic covenant, and the culmination of all covenants, into the New Covenant in Christ. These covenants will be explained adequately in the following overview.

An overview of the covenants in Scripture:

Theological covenants

“The nature of God’s covenantal relationship with his creation is not considered automatic or of necessity. Rather, God voluntarily condescends to establish the connection as a covenant, wherein the terms of the relationship are set down by God alone according to his own will.

In particular, covenant theology teaches that God has established one, eternal covenant, under different administrations.[1] Having created man in His image as a free creature with knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, God entered into a covenant of works whereby the mandate was “do this and live” (Romans 10:5, Galatians 3:12). “Like Adam, they have trespassed the covenant” (Hosea 6:7) is the classic reference to the covenant of works; Hebrews 8:6; 9:15; 12:24 the reference that explains God’s work of redemption in the Covenant of Grace. [2]

Covenant of redemption

The covenant of redemption is the eternal agreement within the Godhead in which the Father appointed the Son Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit to redeem his elect people from the guilt and power of sin. God appointed Christ to live a life of perfect obedience to the law and to die a penal, substitutionary, sacrificial death (see penal substitution aspect of the atonement) as the covenantal representative for all who trust in him. Some covenant theologians have denied the intra-Trinitarian covenant of redemption, or have questioned the notion of the Son’s works leading to the reward of gaining a people for God, or have challenged the covenantal nature of this arrangement. Those who have upheld this covenant point to passages such as Philippians 2:5-11 and Revelation 5:9-10 to support the principle of works leading to reward, and to passages like Psalm 110 in support that this is depicted in Scripture as a covenant.

Covenant of works

The covenant of works was made in the Garden of Eden between God and Adam who represented all mankind as a federal head. (Romans 5:12-21) It promised life for obedience and death for disobedience. Adam, and all mankind in Adam, broke the covenant, thus standing condemned. The covenant of works continues to function after the fall as the moral law.

Though it is not explicitly called a covenant in the opening chapters of Genesis, the comparison of the representative headship of Christ and Adam, as well as passages like Hosea 6:7 have been interpreted to support the idea. It has also been noted that Jeremiah 33:20-26 (cf. 31:35-36) compares the covenant with David to God’s covenant with the day and the night and the statutes of heaven and earth, which God laid down at creation. This has led some to understand all of creation as covenantal: the decree establishing the natural laws governing heaven and earth. The covenant of works might then be seen as the moral law component of the broader creational covenant. Thus, the covenant of works has also been called the covenant of creation, indicating that it is not added but constitutive of the human race; the covenant of nature in recognition of its consonance with the natural law in the human heart; and the covenant of life in regard to the promised reward.

Covenant of grace

The covenant of grace promises eternal life for all people who receive forgiveness of sin through Christ. He is the substitutionary covenantal representative fulfilling the covenant of works on their behalf, in both the positive requirements of righteousness and its negative penal consequences (commonly described as his active and passive obedience). It is the historical expression of the eternal covenant of redemption. Genesis 3:15, with the promise of a “seed” of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head, is usually identified as the historical inauguration for the covenant of grace.

The covenant of grace became the basis for all future covenants that God made with mankind such as with Noah (Genesis 6, 9), with Abraham (Genesis 12, 15, 17), with Moses (Exodus 19-24), with David (2 Samuel 7), and finally in the New Covenant founded and fulfilled in Christ. These individual covenants are called the biblical covenants because they are explicitly described in the Bible. Under the covenantal overview of the Bible, submission to God’s rule and living in accordance with his moral law (expressed concisely in the Ten Commandments) is a response to grace – never something that can earn God’s acceptance (legalism). Even in his giving of the Ten Commandments, God introduces his law by reminding the Israelites that he is the one who brought them out of slavery in Egypt (grace).

Adamic covenant

Covenant theology first sees a covenant of works administered with Adam in the Garden of Eden. Upon Adam’s failure, God established the covenant of grace in the promised seed Genesis 3:15, and shows his redeeming care in clothing Adam and Eve in garments of skin — perhaps picturing the first instance of animal sacrifice. The specific covenants after the fall of Adam are seen as administered under the overarching theological covenant of grace.

Noahic covenant

The Noahic covenant is found in Genesis 8:20-9:17. Although redemption motifs are prominent as Noah and his family are delivered from the judgment waters, the narrative of the flood plays on the creation motifs of Genesis 1 as de-creation and re-creation. The formal terms of the covenant itself more reflect a reaffirmation of the universal created order, than a particular redemptive promise.

Abrahamic covenant

The Abrahamic covenant is found in Genesis chapters 12, 15, and 17. In contrast with the covenants made with Adam or Noah, which were universal in scope, this covenant was with a particular people. Abraham is promised a seed and a land, although he would not see its fruition within his own lifetime. The Book of Hebrews explains that he was looking to a better and heavenly land, a city with foundations, whose builder and architect is God (11:8-16). The Apostle Paul writes that the promised seed refers in particular to Christ (Galatians 3:16).

The Abrahamic covenant is

1. Exclusive: It is only for Abraham and his (spiritual) descendants. Genesis 17:7

2. Everlasting: It is not replaced by any later covenant. Genesis 17:7

3. Accepted by faith, not works: “Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” Genesis 15:6

4. The external sign of entering into the Abrahamic covenant was circumcision. Genesis 17:10, but it has to be matched by an internal change, the circumcision of the heart. Jeremiah 4:4

5. According to Paul, since the Abrahamic covenant is eternal, the followers of Christ are “children of Abraham” and therefore part of this covenant through faith. “Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.” Galatians 3:7

6. Paul makes it clear that baptism is the external sign of faith in Christ, (“…you were baptized into Christ…”), and that through faith in Christ the believer is part of the Abrahamic covenant (“Abraham’s seed”). This provides the basis for the doctrine that baptism is the New Testament sign of God’s covenant with Abraham.

Galatians 3:26 “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Mosaic covenant

The Mosaic covenant, found in Exodus 19-24 and the book of Deuteronomy, expands on the Abrahamic promise of a people and a land. Repeatedly mentioned is the promise of the Lord, “I will be your God and you will be my people” (cf. Exodus 6:7, Leviticus 26:12), particularly displayed as his glory-presence comes to dwell in the midst of the people. This covenant is the one most in view by the term Old Covenant.

Although it is a gracious covenant beginning with God’s redemptive action (cf. Exodus 20:1-2), a layer of law is prominent. Concerning this aspect of the Mosaic Covenant, Charles Hodge makes three points in his Commentary on Second Corinthians: (1) The Law of Moses was in first place a reenactment of the covenant of works; viewed this way, it is the ministration of condemnation and death. (2) It was also a national covenant, giving national blessings based on national obedience; in this way it was purely legal. (3) In the sacrificial system, it points to the Gospel of salvation through a mediator.

Davidic covenant

The Davidic covenant is found in 2Samuel 7. The Lord proclaims that he will build a house and lineage for David, establishing his kingdom and throne forever. This covenant is appealed to as God preserves David’s descendants despite their wickedness (cf. 1 Kings 11:26-39, 15:1-8; 2 Kings 8:19, 19:32-34), although it did not stop judgment from finally arriving (compare 2 Kings 21:7, 23:26-27; Jeremiah 13:12-14). Among the prophets of the exile, there is hope of restoration under a Davidic king who will bring peace and justice (cf. Book of Ezekiel 37:24-28).

New Covenant

The New Covenant is anticipated with the hopes of the Davidic messiah, and most explicitly predicted by the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 31:34). At the Last Supper, Jesus alludes to this prophecy, as well as to prophecies such as Isaiah 49:8, when he says that the cup of the Passover meal is “the New Covenant in [his] blood.” This use of the Old Testament typology is developed further in the Epistle to the Hebrews (see especially chapters. 7-10). Jesus is the last Adam and Israel’s hope and consolation: he is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17-18). He is the prophet greater than Jonah (Matt 12:41), and the Son over the house where Moses was a servant (Hebrews 3:5-6), leading his people to the heavenly promised land. He is the high priest greater than Aaron, offering up himself as the perfect sacrifice once for all (Hebrews 9:12, 26). He is the king greater than Solomon (Matthew 12:42), ruling forever on David’s throne (Luke 1:32). The term “New Testament” comes from the Latin translation of the Greek New Covenant and is most often used for the collection of books in the Bible, can also refer to the New Covenant as a theological concept.

Covenantal signs and seals In Reformed theology, a sacrament is usually defined as a sign and seal of the covenant of grace.[3] Since covenant theology today is mainly Protestant and Reformed in its outlook, proponents view Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as the only two sacraments in this sense, which are sometimes called “church ordinances.” Along with the preached word, they are identified as an ordinary means of grace for salvation. The benefits of these rites do not occur from participating in the rite itself (ex opere operato), but through the power of the Holy Spirit as they are received by faith.” See article online for footnote sources. (4)

After considering the above overview of the various covenants, more time will be spent on the core understanding of a covenant, and in particular, with emphasis on salvation. The Abrahamic Covenant will be looked at in detail.

Charles Hodge, a 19th century Princeton theologian’s thoughts on the Covenant of Grace from his systematic theology, is extensive. In this far-reaching quote, Hodge will focus on the salvation of humanity through His covenant:

“1. The Plan of Salvation is a Covenant

The plan of salvation is presented under the form of a covenant. This is evident,—

First, from the constant use of the words בְּרִית and διαθήκη in reference to it. With regard to the former of these words, although it is sometimes used for a law, disposition, or arrangement in general, where the elements of a covenant strictly speaking are absent, yet there can be no doubt that according to its prevailing usage in the Old Testament, it means a mutual contract between two or more parties. It is very often used of compacts between individuals, and especially between kings and rulers. Abraham and Abimelech made a covenant. (Genesis 21:27.) Joshua made a covenant with the people. (Joshua 24:25.) Jonathan and David made a covenant. (1Samuel 18:3.) Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David. (1Samuel 20:16.) Ahab made a covenant with Benhadad. (1Kings 20:34.) So we find it constantly. There is therefore no room to doubt that the word בְּרִית when used of transactions between man and man means a mutual compact. We have no right to give it any other sense when used of transactions between God and man. Repeated mention is made of the covenant of God with Abraham, as in Genesis 15:18; 17:13, and afterwards with Isaac and Jacob. Then with the Israelites at Mount Sinai. The Old Testament is founded on this idea of a covenant relation between God and the theocratic people.

The meaning of the word διαθήκη in the Greek Scriptures is just as certain and uniform. It is derived from the verb διατίθημι, to arrange, and, therefore, in ordinary Greek is used for any arrangement, or disposition. In the Scriptures it is almost uniformly used in the sense of a covenant. In the Septuagint it is the translation of בְּרִית in all the cases above referred to. It is the term always used in the New Testament to designate the covenant with Abraham, with the Israelites, and with believers. The old covenant and the new are presented in contrast. Both were covenants. If the word has this meaning when applied to the transaction with Abraham and with the Hebrews, it must have the same meaning when applied to the plan of salvation revealed in the gospel.

Secondly, that the plan of salvation is presented in the Bible under the form of a covenant is proved not only from the signification and usage of the words above mentioned, but also and more decisively from the fact that the elements of a covenant are included in this plan. There are parties, mutual promises or stipulations, and conditions. So that it is in fact a covenant, whatever it may be called. As this is the Scriptural mode of representation, it is of great importance that it should be retained in theology. Our only security for retaining the truths of the Bible, is to adhere to the Scriptures as closely as possible in our mode of presenting the doctrines therein revealed.

2. Different Views of the Nature of this Covenant

It is assumed by many that the parties to the covenant of grace are God and fallen man. Man by his apostasy having forfeited the favour of God, lost the divine image, and involved himself in sin and misery, must have perished in this state, had not God provided a plan of salvation. Moved by compassion for his fallen creatures, God determined to send his Son into the world, to assume their nature, and to do and suffer whatever was requisite for their salvation. On the ground of this redeeming work of Christ, God promises salvation to all who will comply with the terms on which it is offered. This general statement embraces forms of opinion, which differ very much one from the others.

1. It includes even the Pelagian view of the plan of salvation, which assumes that there is no difference between the covenant of works under which Adam was placed, and the covenant of grace, under which men are now, except as to the extent of the obedience required. God promised life to Adam on the condition of perfect obedience, because he was in a condition to render such obedience. He promises salvation to men now on the condition of ouch obedience as they are able to render, whether Jews, Pagans, or Christians. According to this view the parties to the covenant are God and man; the promise is life; the condition is obedience, such as man in the use of his natural powers is able to render.

2. The Remonstrant system does not differ essentially from the Pelagian, so far as the parties, the promise and the condition of the covenant are concerned. The Remonstrants also make God and man the parties, life the promise, and obedience the condition. But they regard fallen men as in a state of sin by nature, as needing supernatural grace which is furnished to all, and the obedience required is the obedience of faith, or fides obsequiosa, faith as including and securing evangelical obedience. Salvation under the gospel is as truly by works as under the law; but the obedience required is not the perfect righteousness demanded of Adam, but such as fallen man, by the aid of the Spirit, is now able to perform.

3. Wesleyan Arminianism greatly exalts the work of Christ, the importance of the Spirit’s influence, and the grace of the gospel above the standard adopted by the Remonstrants. The two systems, however, are essentially the same. The work of Christ has equal reference to all men. It secures for all the promise of salvation on the condition of evangelical obedience; and it obtains for all, Jews and Gentiles, enough measures of divine grace to render such obedience practicable. The salvation of each individual man depends on the use, which he makes of this sufficient grace.

4. The Lutherans also hold that God had the serious purpose to save all men; that Christ died equally for all; that salvation is offered to all who hear the gospel, on the condition, not of works or of evangelical obedience, but of faith alone; faith, however, is the gift of God; men have not the power to believe, but they have the power of effectual resistance; and those, and those only, under the gospel, who wilfully resist, perish, and for that reason. According to all these views, which were more fully stated in the receding chapter, the covenant of grace is a compact between God and fallen man, in which God promises salvation on condition of a compliance with the demands of the gospel. What those demands are, as we have seen, is differently explained.

The essential distinctions between the above-mentioned views of the plan of salvation, or covenant of grace, and the Augustinian system, are, (1.) That, according to the former, its provisions have equal reference to all mankind, whereas according to the latter they have special reference to that portion of our race who are actually saved; and (2.) That Augustinianism says that it is God and not man who determines who are to be saved. As has been already frequently remarked, the question which of these systems is true is not to be decided by ascertaining which is the more agreeable to our feelings or the more plausible to our understanding, but which is consistent with the doctrines of the Bible and the facts of experience. This point has already been discussed. Our present object is simply to state what Augustinians mean by the covenant of grace.

The word grace is used in Scripture and in ordinary religious writings in three senses. (1.) For unmerited love; i.e., love exercised towards the undeserving. (2.) For any unmerited favour, especially for spiritual blessings. Hence, all the fruits of the Spirit in believers are called graces, or unmerited gifts of God. (3.) The word grace often means the supernatural influence of the Holy Ghost. This is preëminently grace, being the great gift secured by the work of Christ, and without which his redemption would not avail to our salvation. In all these senses of the word, the plan of salvation is properly called a covenant of grace. It is of grace because it originated in the mysterious love of God for sinners who deserved only his wrath and curse. Secondly, because it promises salvation, not on the condition of works or anything meritorious on our part, but as an unmerited gift. And, thirdly, because its benefits are secured and applied not in the course of nature, or in the exercise of the natural powers of the sinner, but by the supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit, granted to him as an unmerited gift.

3. Parties to the Covenant

At first view there appears to be some confusion in the statements of the Scriptures as to the parties to this covenant. Sometimes Christ is presented as one of the parties; at others He is represented not as a party, but as the mediator and surety of the covenant; while the parties are represented to be God and his people. As the old covenant was made between God and the Hebrews, and Moses acted as mediator, so the new covenant is commonly represented in the Bible as formed between God and his people, Christ acting as mediator. He is, therefore, called the mediator of a better covenant founded on better promises.

Some theologians propose to reconcile these modes of representation by saying that as the covenant of works was formed with Adam as the representative of his race, and therefore in him with all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation; so the covenant of grace was formed with Christ as the head and representative of his people, and in Him with all those given to Him by the Father. This simplifies the matter, and agrees with the parallel which the Apostle traces between Adam and Christ in Romans 5:12-21, and 1Corinthians 15:21, 22, 47-49. Still it does not remove the incongruity of Christ’s being represented as at once a party and a mediator of the same covenant. There are in fact two covenants relating to the salvation of fallen man, the one between God and Christ, the other between God and his people. These covenants differ not only in their parties, but also in their promises and conditions. Both are so clearly presented in the Bible that they should not be confounded. The latter, the covenant of grace, is founded on the former, the covenant of redemption. Of the one Christ is the mediator and surety; of the other He is one of the contracting parties.

This is a matter, which concerns only perspicuity of statement. There is no doctrinal difference between those who prefer the one statement and those who prefer the other; between those who comprise all the facts of Scripture relating to the subject under one covenant between God and Christ as the representative of his people, and those who distribute them under two. The Westminster standards seem to adopt sometimes the one and sometimes the other mode of representation. In the Confession of Faith it is said,

‘Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant [i.e., by the covenant of works], the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein He freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto life, his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.’

Here the implication is that God and his people are the parties; for in a covenant the promises are made to one of the parties, and here it is said that life and salvation are promised to sinners, and that faith is demanded of them. The same view is presented in the Shorter Catechism, according to the natural interpretation of the answer to the twentieth question. It is there said,

‘God having out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer.’

In the Larger Catechism, however, the other view is expressly adopted. In the answer to the question,

‘With whom was the covenant of grace made?’ it is said, ‘The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in Him with all the elect as his seed.’

Two Covenants to be distinguished

This confusion is avoided by distinguishing between the covenant of redemption between the Father and the Son, and the covenant of grace between God and his people. The latter supposes the former, and is founded upon it. The two, however, ought not to be confounded, as both are clearly revealed in Scripture, and moreover they differ as to the parties, as to the promises, and as to the conditions. On this subject Turrettin says, 299 “Atque hic superfluum videtur quærere, An fœdus hoc contractum fuerit cum Christo, tanquam altera parte contrahente, et in ipso cum toto ejus semine, ut primum fœdus cum Adamo pactum fuerat, et in Adamo cum tota ejus posteritate: quod non paucis placet, quia promissiones ipsi dicuntur factæ, Gal. iii. 16, et quia, ut Caput et Princeps populi sui, in omnibus primas tenet, ut nihil nisi in ipso et ab ipso obtineri possit: An vero fœdus contractum sit in Christo cum toto semine, ut non tam habeat rationem partis contrahentis, quam partis mediæ, quæ inter dissidentes stat ad eos reconciliandos, ut aliis satius videtur. Superfiuum, inquam, est de eo disceptare, quia res eodem redit; et certum est duplex hic pactum necessario attendendum esse, vel unius ejusdem pacti duas partes et gradus. Prius pactum est, quod inter Patrem et Filium intercedit, ad opus redemptionis exequendum. Posterius est, quod Deus cum electis in Christo contrahit, de illis per et propter Christum salvandis sub conditione fidei et resipiscentiæ. Prius fit cum Sponsore et capite ad salutem membrorum: Posterius fit cum membris in capite et sponsore.”

The same view is taken by Witsius: 300 “Ut Fœderis gratiæ natura penitius perspecta sit, duo imprimis distincte consideranda sunt. (1.) Pactum, quod inter Deum Patrem et mediatorem Christum intercedit. (2.) Testamentaria illa dispositio, qua Deus electis salutem æternam, et omnia eo pertinentia, immutabili fœdere addicit. Prior conventio Dei cum mediatore est: posterior Dei cum electis. Hæc illam supponit, et in illa fundatur.”

See Chapter 4. Covenant of Redemption, p. 359-362. – Chapter 5. The Covenant of Grace, 362-366 – Chapter 6. The Identity of the Covenant of Grace under all Dispensations, p. 366-373” (5)

Louis Berkhof’s observations on the Biblical definition of the Covenant will supplement the above lengthy quote by Hodge and will be of additional importance:

“1. IN THE OLD TESTAMENT. The Hebrew word for covenant is always berith, a word of uncertain derivation. The most general opinion is that it is derived from the Hebrew verb barah, to cut, and therefore contains a reminder of the ceremony mentioned in Gen. 15:17. Some, however, prefer to think that it is derived from the Assyrian word beritu, meaning “to bind.” This would at once point to the covenant as a bond. The question of the derivation is of no great importance for the construction of the doctrine. The word berith may denote a mutual voluntary agreement (dipleuric), but also a disposition or arrangement imposed by one party on another (monopleuric). Its exact meaning does not depend on the etymology of the word, nor on the historical development of the concept, but simply on the parties concerned. In the measure in which one of the parties is subordinate and has less to say, the covenant acquires the character of a disposition or arrangement imposed by one party on the other. Berith then becomes synonymous with choq (appointed statute or ordinance), Ex. 34:10; Isa. 59:21; Jer. 31:36; 33:20; 34:13. Hence we also find that karath berith (to cut a covenant) is construed not only with the prepositions ’am and ben (with), but also with lamedh (to), Jos. 9:6; Isa. 55:3; 61:8; Jer. 32:40. Naturally, when God establishes a covenant with man, this monopleuric character is very much in evidence, for God and man are not equal parties. God is the Sovereign who imposes His ordinances upon His creatures.

2. IN THE NEW TESTAMENT. In the Septuagint the word berith is rendered diatheke in every passage where it occurs with the exception of Deut. 9:15 (marturion) and I Kings 11:11 (entole). The word diatheke is confined to this usage, except in four passages. This use of the word seems rather peculiar in view of the fact that it is not the usual Greek word for covenant, but really denotes a disposition, and consequently also a testament. The ordinary word for covenant is suntheke. Did the translators intend to substitute another idea for the covenant idea? Evidently not, for in Isa. 28:15 they use the two words synonymously, and there diatheke evidently means a pact or an agreement. Hence there is no doubt about it that they ascribe this meaning to diatheke. But the question remains, Why did they so generally avoid the use of suntheke and substitute for it a word which denotes a disposition rather than an agreement? In all probability, the reason lies in the fact that in the Greek world the covenant idea expressed by suntheke was based to such an extent on the legal equality of the parties, that it could not, without considerable modification, be incorporated in the Scriptural system of thought. The idea that the priority belongs to God in the establishment of the covenant, and that He sovereignly imposes His covenant on man was absent from the usual Greek word. Hence, the substitution of the word in which this was very prominent. The word diatheke thus, like many other words, received a new meaning, when it became the vehicle of divine thought. This change is important in connection with the New Testament use of the word. There has been considerable difference of opinion respecting the proper translation of the word. In about half of the passages in which it occurs the Holland and the Authorized Versions render the word “covenant,” while in the other half they render it “testament.”

The American Revised Version, however, renders it “covenant” throughout, except in Heb. 9:16, 17. It is but natural, therefore, that the question should be raised, what is the New Testament meaning of the word? Some claim that it has its classical meaning of disposition or testament, wherever it is found in the New Testament, while others maintain that it means testament in some places, but that in the great majority of passages the covenant idea is prominently in the foreground. This is undoubtedly the correct view. We would expect a priorily that the New Testament usage would be in general agreement with that of the Septuagint; and a careful study of the relevant passages shows that the American Revised Version is undoubtedly on the right track, when it translates diatheke by “testament” only in Heb. 9:16,17. In all probability there is not a single other passage where this rendering would be correct, not even II Cor. 3:6, 14. The fact that several translations of the New Testament substituted “testament” for “covenant” in so many places is probably due to three causes: (a) the desire to emphasize the priority of God in the transaction; (b) the assumption that the word had to be rendered as much as possible in harmony with Heb. 9:16, 17; and (c) the influence of the Latin translation, which uniformly rendered diatheke by “testamentum.” (6)

Herman Ridderbos is considered one of the twentieth century’s most influential New Testament theologians. His views of the covenant will likewise be of significance:

“In the Septuagint διαθηκη is regularly used as the translation of the covenant of God (berith), rather than the apparently more available word συνθηκη. In this, there is already an expression of the fact that the covenant of God does not have the character of a contract between two parties, but rather that of a one-sided grant. This corresponds with the covenant-idea in the Old Testament, in which berith, even in human relations, sometimes refers to a one-party guarantee which a more favored person gives a less favored one (cf. Josh. 9:6, 15; 1 Sam. 11:1; Ezek. 17:13). And it is most peculiarly true of the divine covenantal deed that it is a one-party guarantee. It comes not from man at all, but from God alone. This does not rule out the fact, of course, that it involves religious and ethical obligation, namely that of faith and obedience (Gen. 17:9-10), and that thus the reciprocal element is taken up in the covenant. Still, such an obligation is not always named, and there is no room to speak at all of a correlation, in the sense that each determines and holds in balance the terms of the other, between the promise of God and the human appropriation of it. It is not the idea of parity, or even that of reciprocity, but that of validity, which determines the essence of the covenant-idea.

God’s covenant with Noah, for example, lays down no stipulations, and it has the character of a one-party guarantee. It does of course require the faith of man, but is in its fulfillment in no respect dependent on the faith, and it is validly in force for all coming generations, believing and unbelieving (cf. Gen. 9:9). And in the making of the covenant with Abraham, too, in Gen. 15, the fulfillment of the law is in symbolical form made to depend wholly upon the divine deed. Abraham is deliberately excluded — he is the astonished spectator (cf. Gen. 15:12, 17).

True, in the Sinaitic covenant, the stipulations which God lays down for his people sometimes take the form of actual conditions, so that the realization of the promise is conditioned by them (cf. Lev. 26:15 ff. and Deut. 31:20), but this structural change in the covenant-revelation can be explained in connection with the wider promulgation — it is to extend to the whole nation of Israel — of the covenant, by means of which the covenant-relationship takes on a wider and more external meaning.

It comprises not merely the unconditional guarantee of God to those who walk in the faith and obedience of their father Abraham: it also lays down a special bond constituted by the offer of salvation, on the one side, and by responsibility, on the other side, for those who will not appear to manifest a oneness with their spiritual ancestor. Meanwhile, of course, the fact remains that in all the different dispensations of the covenant of grace, God’s unconditional promise to Abraham constitutes its heart and kernel. Consequently, when the “new covenant” (Jer. 31:33) is announced, one thing is expressly made clear: namely, that the disposition, which is indispensable for the human reception of the covenant-benefits, will itself be granted as the gift of God Himself. In other words, that very thing which in the Sinaitic covenant was so plainly set down as a condition, belongs in the new covenant to the benefits promised by God in the covenant itself. The New Testament concept of διαθηκη lies quite in the line of that development, particularly as Paul thinks of it, as is evident in [Galatians 3 and 4], and in such a place as Rom. 9. That New Testament concept points to a salvation whose benefits are guaranteed by God and as a matter of fact are actually given, because in Christ and through Him the conditions of the covenant are fulfilled.” (7)

Biographical information:

Charles Hodge and Louis Berkhof were systematic theologians, and Herman Ridderbos was a critical New Testament theologian, having worked extensively on the history of salvation and biblical theology.

The goal of the above lengthy citations by Hodge, Berkhof, and Ridderbos is that something will stick out in one of the quotes, thus aiding the understanding of God’s covenants for the reader.

The significance of the Abrahamic Covenant and salvation:

As seen, the third appearance of the covenant in history is with Abraham. This covenant is after the earlier Adamic, and Noahic covenants. The covenant with Abraham is crucial since the later covenants, the Mosaic, and the Davidic covenants build upon the covenant with Abraham.

Like the Adamic covenant, God made a covenant with Abraham that was binding upon him and his posterity.

The importance of the Abrahamic Covenant seen in Genesis 15:17 from the Lutheran theologians Keil and Delitzsch:

“When the sun had gone down, and thick darkness had come on (היה impersonal), “behold a smoking furnace, and (with) a fiery torch, which passed between those pieces,” – a description of what Abram saw in his deep prophetic sleep, corresponding to the mysterious character of the whole proceeding. תּנּוּר, a stove, is a cylindrical fire-pot, such as is used in the dwelling-houses of the East. The phenomenon, which passed through the pieces as they lay opposite to one another, resembled such a smoking stove, from which a fiery torch, i.e., a brilliant flame, was streaming forth. In this symbol, Jehovah manifested Himself to Abram, just as He afterwards did to the people of Israel in the pillar of cloud and fire. Passing through the pieces, He ratified the covenant, which He made with Abram. His glory was enveloped in fire and smoke, the produce of the consuming fire, – both symbols of the wrath of God (cf. Psalm 18:9, and Hengstenberg in loc.), whose fiery zeal consumes whatever opposes it (vid. Exodus 3:2). – To establish and give reality to the covenant to be concluded with Abram, Jehovah would have to pass through the seed of Abram when oppressed by the Egyptians and threatened with destruction, and to execute judgment upon their oppressors (Exodus 7:4; Exodus 12:12). In this symbol, the passing of the Lord between the pieces meant something altogether different from the oath of the Lord by Himself in Genesis 22:16, or by His life in Deuteronomy 32:40, or by His soul in Amos 6:8 and Jeremiah 51:14. It set before Abram the condescension of the Lord to his seed, in the fearful glory of His majesty as the judge of their foes. Hence the pieces were not consumed by the fire; for the transaction had reference not to a sacrifice, which God accepted, and in which the soul of the offerer was to ascend in the smoke to God, but to a covenant in which God came down to man. From the nature of this covenant, it followed, however, that God alone went through the pieces in a symbolical representation of Himself, and not Abram also. For although a covenant always establishes a reciprocal relation between two individuals, yet in that covenant which God concluded with a man, the man did not stand on an equality with God, but God established the relation of fellowship by His promise and His gracious condescension to the man, who was at first purely a recipient, and was only qualified and bound to fulfil the obligations consequent upon the covenant by the reception of gifts of grace.” (8)

Puritan, John Gill explains the Abrahamic Covenant in easy to understand language:

“God made a covenant with Abram, as appears from Genesis 15:18; and, as a confirmation of it, passed between the pieces in a lamp of fire, showing that he was and would be the light and salvation of his people, Abram’s seed, and an avenger of their enemies; only God passed between the pieces, not Abram, this covenant being as others God makes with men, only on one side; God, in covenanting with men, promises and gives something unto them, but men give nothing to him, but receive from him, as was the case between God and Abram: however, it is very probable, that this lamp of fire consumed the pieces, in like manner as fire from heaven used to fall upon and consume the sacrifices, in token of God’s acceptance of them.” (9)

Covenants are not unique to the Bible. Other Near Eastern cultures had treaties and covenants that are similar to biblical covenants.

For example:

Suzerain Treaties & The Covenant Documents the Bible by Dr. Meredith Kline from the Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA:

“Brief Summary of Suzerain Treaties:

In the Ancient Near East, treaties between kings was common. These were treaties drawn up among equals and mostly outlined agreements to honor each other’s boundaries, to maintain trade relations, and return run-away slaves. These treaties are preserved in the Mari Tablets and in the Amarna texts. Also preserved in these collections are treaties drafted between a superior and his inferior. If the relationship was familial or friendly, the parties are referred to as “father” and “son.” If the relationship is bereft of kindness and intimacy, the parties are referred to as “lord” and “servant,” or “king” and “vassal,” or “greater king” and “lesser king.” The greater king is the suzerain and the lesser king is a prince, or a lesser lord in the service of the greater king. The lesser lord is a representative of all the common people who are under the protection of the greater king. He enforces the treaty among the masses.

These Suzerain/Vassal treaties open with two sections: 1) The identification of the Suzerain by his name and titles; 2) The historical survey of the Suzerain’s dealings with the vassal. The purpose is to illustrate to the vassal how much the Suzerain has done to protect and establish the vassal who therefore owes submission and allegiance to the Suzerain. These two sections are referred to as the “Preamble.”

The next section of these treaties list the “stipulations.” What the vassal is required to do is spelled out in principal and detail. This section is often concluded with the requirement that the vassal deposit his copy of the treaty in his temple, where he is to occasionally read and study it to refresh his memory concerning his duties.

The last section of these treaties contains the blessings and curses of the Suzerain. If the stipulations are met by the vassal, he will receive the Suzerain’s blessings, which are listed. If the vassal fails to meet the stipulations, he will receive the Suzerain’s curses, which are also listed.

The Suzerain would keep one copy of the treaty and the vassal would keep one copy of the treaty. A number of ratifying ceremonies were used depending upon the era and culture. But the most widely used rite was that of cutting the bodies of animals in halves and placing them in two rows with enough space between for the two parties of the treaty to walk side by side. As they walked between the pieces, they were vowing to each other, “May what has happened to these animals, happen to me if I break this covenant with you.”

Covenant Documents of the Bible Patterned After Suzerain Treaties:

Exodus 20

(1-2)”Yahweh” is the Suzerain who delivered this Preamble to Moses, the vassal-lord who represents the people under the authority of the Suzerain.

names & titles = “I am the Lord, your God.”

historical prologue = “Who brought you out of Egypt…”

(3-17) Stipulations with selected blessings and curses.

stipulations = the 10 commandments;

blessings and curses = (5b-6); (7b); (12b).

Deuteronomy

(This entire book of Moses is saturated with Suzerain Treaty language and structure. It is not properly the treaty document itself, but it is based upon such a treaty, making reference to it often. Below are some examples.)

(4:32-40) Historical Prologue language and structure;

(4:44 – 5:21) Stipulations;

(6:4-25) Blessings and Curses;

(8) Reflects all the sections of a suzerain treaty,

(11)” ““

(17:14-20) Reflects the relationship of a vassal king to the Suzerain;

(20) Reflects the language and structure of war-time arrangements between a Suzerain and his people;

(27-28) Curses and Blessings;

(29) Covenant Renewal;

(30:11-19) Classic presentation of Ancient Near East Treaties!

(A question along the lines of “what came first, the chicken or the egg?” Did God see fit to present his covenant to his people in a cultural form developed by Near Eastern empires, or did God’s original pattern for his covenant in Eden inform and form the cultural pattern of the Ancient Near East?)” (10)

Kline’s question can be answered. God’s covenant came first, and God’s original pattern for His covenant in Eden was used to inform and form the cultural pattern of the Ancient Near Eastern treaties. Therefore, biblical covenants were not dependent upon non-Christian sources. Likewise, this is similar to the biblical teaching on the flood and the numerous flood stories in ancient history. The Bible is not dependent upon pagan stories of the flood. The Bible sets forth the true account; the other stories are corrupted remnants of the biblical account.

In conclusion, from the Westminster Confession on the Covenants:

“Chapter VII. Of God’s Covenant with Man

I. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto Him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of Him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, which He hath been pleased to express by way of covenant, (Isa 40:13-17; Job 9:32-33; 1Sa 2:25; Psalm 113:5-6; Psalm 100:2-3; Job 22:2-3; Job 35:7-8; Luke 17:10; Act 17:24-25).

II. The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, (Gal 3:12); wherein life was promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity, (Rom 10:5; Rom 5:12-20); upon condition of perfect and personal obedience, (Gen 2:17; Gal 3:10).

III. Man, by his fall, having made himself uncapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, (Gal 3:21; Rom 8:3; Rom 3:20-21; Gen 3:15; Isa 42:6); commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein He freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved, (Mar 16:15-16; John 3:16; Rom 10:6, 9; Gal 3:11); and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life His Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe, (Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 6:44-45).

IV. This covenant of grace is frequently set forth in Scripture by the name of a testament, in reference to the death of Jesus Christ the Testator, and to the everlasting inheritance, with all things belonging to it, therein bequeathed, (Hebrews 9:15-17; Hebrews 7:22; Luke 22:20; 1Co 11:25).

V. This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel, (2Co 3:6-9): under the law, it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all fore-signifying Christ to come, (Hebrews 8-10; Rom 4:11; Col 2:11-12; 1Co 5:7); which were, for that time, sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, (1Co 10:1-4; Hebrews 11:13; John 8:56); by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation; and is called the old Testament, (Gal 3:7-9, 14).

VI. Under the gospel, when Christ, the substance, (Col 2:17); was exhibited, the ordinances in which this covenant is dispensed are the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, (Mat 28:19-20; 1Co 11:23-25): which, though fewer in number, and administered with more simplicity, and less outward glory, yet, in them, it is held forth in more fulness, evidence, and spiritual efficacy, (Hebrews 12:22-27; Jerimiah 31:33-34); to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles, (Mat 28:19; Ephesians 2:15-19); and is called the new Testament, (Luke 22:20). There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations, (Gal 3:14, 16; Act 15:11; Rom 3:21-23, 30; Psalm 32:1; Rom 4:3, 6, 16-17, 23-24; Hebrews 13:8).”

Covenantal theology is inescapable. Have you submitted to God’s covenant in Christ? Alternatively, are you in rebellion?

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)

Notes:

1. The Blood of the Everlasting Covenant, A Sermon (No. 273) Delivered on Sabbath Morning, September 4th, 1859, by the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon-Sermons

2. Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, (Phillipsburg New Jersey, Presbyterian and Reformed, 1992), p.574.

3. Herman Witsius, The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man, Vol. 1, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Reformation Heritage Books, reprinted 2010), p. 45.

4. References from Wikipedia, God’s covenants is online at: Wikipedia/Covenant theology

5. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. 2, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1982), pp. 354-359.

6. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, 1949), pp. 262, 263.

7. Herman Ridderbos, The Epistle of Paul to the Churches of Galatia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, 1953), p. 130-31.

8. Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans), Reprinted 1986, p. 216, 217.

9. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments 9 Volumes, John, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 286, 287.

10. Dr. Meredith Kline, Notes from lectures of, presented at Westminster Theological Seminary in Escondido, California, Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: http://www.thereligionthatstartedinahat.com/

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What does the Bible say about Spiritism and the Occult?

What does the Bible say about Spiritism and the Occult? By Jack Kettler

As in previous studies, we will look at definitions, scriptures, lexical, and commentary evidence for the purpose to glorify God in how we live. In this study, we will look at two closely related topics, Spiritism and the Occult the Scriptural warnings to avoid such practices.

What is Spiritism?

The Bible clearly forbids Spiritism. God’s people are to make no attempt to contact spirits. Séances and necromancy are occult activities forbidden by God (Leviticus 19:31; 20:6; Galatians 5:20; 2Chronicles 33:6). The fact that Spiritism places the occult under a veil of “science” makes no difference. The Bible tells us that the spirit world is off-limits to us, for our own protection. The spirits with which Spiritism has to do are not human; the Bible says that the spirits of men face judgment after death (Hebrews 9:27), and there is nothing in Scripture to suggest that spirits return to the land of the living for any reason or in any form. We know that Satan is a deceiver (John 8:44). *

What is the Occult?

Occult means, “hidden.” It covers practices that are not approved of by God e.g., astrology (Isaiah 47:13), casting spells (Deuteronomy 18:11), consulting with spirits (Deuteronomy 18:11), magic (Genesis 41:8), sorcery (Exodus 22:8), witchcraft (Deuteronomy 18:10), and Spiritism (Deuteronomy 18:11). Occult practices such as Ouija boards, tarot cards, astrology charts, contacting the dead, séances, etc. are to be avoided by the Christian and Jews alike. **

A selected list of Scriptures relevant to both subjects:

“You shall not permit a sorceress to live.” (Exodus 22:18 ESV)

“If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.” (Leviticus 20:6 ESV)

“A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit [a medium or a necromancer], or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:27)

“There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-11)

“And he [Manasseh] caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.” (2Chronicles 33:6)

“And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.” (Isaiah 8:19-20 ESV)

“That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish.” (Isaiah 44:25)

“And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver.’ (Acts 19:19 ESV)

“Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies.” (Galatians 5:20)

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1Peter 5:8)

Comments:

C. S. Lewis wrote, “The Screwtape Letters,” which contain the dialogues between the demons “Wormwood” the nephew of “Screwtape” his uncle demon. In the preface, we learn there are two equal and opposite errors, and we can fall into concerning devils and demons. One is to doubt their existence, which is what usually happens in the modern world influenced by rationalism. The other is to have an unnecessary interest in them influenced by the New Age movement. The devil made me do it is a cop-out. In contrast, to deny the reality of Satan and his minions is dangerous in light of 1Peter 5:8.

In conclusion:

Consulting with spirit mediums, spiritists, practicing witchcraft, astrology, and magic are sinful rejections of God. Oprah Winfrey says to “find your own spirit.” Oprah’s idea is a contemporary example of a dangerous call to find a spirit medium. In the modern world, these so-called dark arts come in seemingly respectable scientific settings. They are to be avoided nonetheless.

Moreover, these above practices warranted the death penalty in the Older Covenant economy of Israel. Today the church does not wield the power of the sword. However, the church can excommunicate members found practicing these dark arts.

“Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit* that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.” (1Samuel 28:7)

* Brown-Driver-Briggs on familiar spirit:

אוֺב noun masculine Job 32:19 skin-bottle, necromancer, etc. — absolute ׳א Leviticus 20:27 8t.; plural אֹבוֺת Leviticus 19:31 7t. —

1 skin-bottle, only plural אֹבוֺת חֲדָשִׁים new (wine-) skins Job 32:19.

2 necromancer, in phrase אוֺב אוֺ יִדְּעֹנִי necromancer or wizard Leviticus 20:27 (H; usually translated ‘a man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit or that is a wizard’ RV; but better a man or a woman, if there should be among them, a necromancer or wizard; no sufficient reason for exceptional use of phrase here); וְיִדְּעֹנִי ׳א Deuteronomy 18:11; 2Chronicles 33:6 = 2 Kings 21:6 (where וידענים ׳א); הָאֹבוֺת וְהַיִּדְּעֹנִים Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6 (H) 1 Samuel 28:3,9; 2 Kings 23:24; Isaiah 8:19 (where repres. as chirping & muttering, in practice of their art of seeking dead for instruction, probably ventriloquism, & so ᵐ5) Isaiah 19:3.

3 ghost, Isaiah 29:4 וְהָיָה כְּאוֺב מֵאֶרֶץ קוֺלֵח וּמֵעָפָר אִמְרָתֵח תְּצַפְצֵף and thy voice shall be as a ghost from the ground and from the dust thy speech shall chirp (so Ge MV Ew De Che and others, but chirping might be of necromancer, as Isaiah 8:19).

4 necromancy אֵשֶׁת בַּעֲלַתאֿוֺב a woman who was mistress of necromancy 1Samuel 28:7 (twice in verse); (> RSJPh xiv, 127 f makes אוֺב primarily a subterranean spirit, and significant. 2 only an abbreviation of ׳בעלתא etc.); קסם בּאוֺב divine by necromancy 1Samuel 28:8, which seems to be interpretation of 1Chronicles 10:13 ׳שׁאל בא inquire by necromancy. (In these three examples אוֺב is usually interpreted as ghost or familiar spirit conceived as dwelling in necromancer; but this apparently not the ancient conception.)

The result of Saul’s sin:

“Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?” (1Samuel 28:16)

Saul and the Witch of Endor by R. Bickersteth, D. D.

1Samuel 28:7-25

Then said Saul to his servants, Seek me a woman that has a familiar spirit that I may go to her, and inquire of her…

At this period to which the text relates Saul was in great perplexity, owing to the want of someone through whom to obtain counsel from God. The affairs of Israel were at this time in a critical state. Their ancient adversaries, the Philistines, were mustering their forces. The moral degeneracy of Israel served to embolden the enemy. Let us now endeavour to point out some of the practical lessons, which this remarkable narrative suggests.

1. The history forcibly teaches the solemn truth, that a man’s day of grace is by no means invariably co-extensive with his life on earth. It is evident that at least for a time before Saul perished he was left to eat of the fruit of his own way, and to be filled with his own devices. The Spirit departed from him, and at the same time, the Spirit of evil entered in and took full possession of him. After this, there were no further means to be tried for his conversion. The king had outlived his time of opportunity, and God was departed from him. Saul’s day of grace had then terminated; and, whilst you notice this, observe also the steps which led to this consummation: they were a progressive series of resistances offered to God’s Spirit — repeated acts of provocation, the repetition of refusals to hearken and to obey. There are numbers who are emboldened in a course of irreligion from the impression that it will be easy at some future time to turn and repent, and undergo the indispensable change, without which they cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. On this account, it becomes more necessary to repeat the warning that the season for turning to the Lord may pass away, never to return, even before the stroke of death ushers the soul to its everlasting portion.

2. Again, the history before us is instructive as pointing out what act it was on the part of Saul, which challenged his final and immediate punishment. From the narrative, it appears it was the sin of witchcraft. But the peculiarity lies in this, that it was a sin which Saul had professedly abandoned, and against which he had proclaimed open war. Can we err in concluding from hence that sin is then more especially hateful to God when practised by one who knows its nature and has once deliberately purposed to forsake it? To fall back to the indulgence of a sin, which you have once resolved to renounce is a sure way to provoke the heavy displeasure of God.

3. The narrative is full of instruction as to the folly of expecting conversion by miracle when it is not effected by ordinary means. The reappearance of Samuel availed nothing for Saul’s conversion. The reanimated Prophet could not guide the man who had abandoned the guidance of God’s own Spirit. Be not deceived to suppose that if unconverted by what God is doing for you now, you would be converted by any supernatural agency. Your conversion is possible now. It is the province of the Holy Ghost to effect it. Use the means you have. God will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask. (R. Bickersteth, D. D. The Biblical Illustrator, Electronic Database).

In closing:

“So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the LORD in that he did not keep the command of the LORD, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance.” (1Chronicles 10:13 ESV)

“Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:31 ESV)

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: http://www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

For more study:

* Got Questions https://www.gotquestions.org/
** CARM Theological Dictionary https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/ctd.html

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Are you Woke? What is the Woke movement? A fact sheet.

Are you Woke? What is the Woke movement? A fact sheet. By Jack Kettler

An exercise in “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” (Proverbs 27:17 NKJV)

From Barnes’ Notes on the Bible on Proverbs 27:17:

“The proverb expresses the gain of mutual counsel as found in clear, well-defined thoughts. Two minds, thus acting on each other, become more acute.” (1)

What is a definition of Woke?

Woke is a term that has come into the mainstream from what can be called African American English. It is a term, which refers to an awareness of social justice and in particular racial issues. The “woke” movement began in the African American community and the acceptance of black liberation theology, another name for Marxism. The movement has expanded into other perceived social justice areas. In brief, “woke” is the term used to explain an awakening to issues of race, gender, and sexual injustice.

Supposedly historic Christians have been ignorant and in the dark about these issues. In reality, traditional Christians have dealt with these issues as individual sins rather than group rights or identity politics.

Is woke-ism a new fad like the Emergent Church Movement? Promoters of woke-ism are progressively theologically liberal on issues like LGBTQ rights, the environment, and racial inequality, and see themselves as social justice warriors. From the inroads this movement has made into evangelicalism, woke-ism has the hallmarks of faddism.

If you read the Christian contemporary woke leaders it becomes quickly apparent they only have a superficial knowledge of the Bible. Proponents of woke-ism and historic traditional Christian apologetics have substantial differences as proof. Woke-ism operates on assumptions, which are not too be questioned they are supposedly self-evident. If you do not agree with the assumption, you are not “woke.” How convenient and how circular.

Woke-ism made possible by Post-Modern thought:

Up until the mid-twentieth century post, enlightenment or modernist thinking was still dominant. As evident from the ministries like that of Francis A. Schaeffer and L’abri in Switzerland. Christians during this time were concerned with the intellectual validation and defense of the Christian faith.

Postmodernism cannot be better explained than by Gene Edward Veith, Jr.:

“In postmodernism, the intellect is replaced by will, reason by emotion, and morality by relativism. Reality is nothing more than a social construct; truth equals power. Your identity comes from a group. Postmodernism is characterized by fragmentation, indeterminacy, and a distrust of all universalizing (worldviews) and power structures (the establishment). It is a worldview that denies all worldviews (“stories”). In a nutshell, postmodernism says there are no universal truths valid for all people. Instead, individuals are locked into the limited perspective of their own race, gender or ethnic group. It is Nietzsche in full bloom.

Although postmodernists tend to reject traditional morality, they can still be very moralistic. They will defend their “rights” to do what they want with puritanical zeal. Furthermore, they seem to feel that they have a right not to be criticized for what they are doing. They want not only license but approval. Thus, tolerance becomes the cardinal virtue. Under the postmodernist way of thinking, the principle of cultural diversity means that every like-minded group constitutes a culture that must be considered as good as any other culture. The postmodernist sins are being judgmental, being narrow-minded, thinking that you have the only truth, and trying to enforce your values on anyone else. Those who question the postmodernist dogma that “there are no absolutes” are excluded from the canons of tolerance. The only wrong idea is to believe in truth; the only sin is to believe in sin.” (2)

Post-Modern thought gave up on these pursuits, abandoning theological and intellectual precision. The adherents of woke-ism have abandoned historic church confessions and the biblical theology of sin and the need for redemption.

There is nothing in woke-ism literature about repenting from individual sins unless you are white, conservative, a capitalist, and heterosexual. Woke-ism is progressive, a movement of the political and theological left.

Instead, the investigator finds assertions about social injustice that are based upon nothing more than unproven assumptions and appeals to selective data, which are not to be questioned.

As said earlier, if the assumptions are questioned, the critic is dismissed as not being “woke.” The “woke-er” argues in a circle, themselves, being the standard of interpretation. With this spectacular intellectual decline, the stage is set for a massive rise in new cultic groups forming on nothing more than following a slick lip artist leader who can arouse the emotions.

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)

Notes:

1. Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Proverbs, Vol. 6 p.103.

2. Gene Edward Veith, Jr., Postmodern Times, p. 195-196.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: http://www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

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Who changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday Worship?

Who changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday Worship? By Jack Kettler

Did the Roman Catholic Pope change the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday worship? In this study, we will seek to answer that question and why the day of worship changed for a majority of Christians to Sunday. If it was not the Pope, are there Scriptural arguments for this day change? If the day of worship changed, are there Sabbath requirements attached to Sunday?

When did Christians start meeting on Sunday? A cursory look at the New Testament.

“On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.” (Acts 20:7 ESV)

“On the first day of the week” along with the direction given in Corinthians by Paul, “On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come” (1Corinthians 16:2 ESV). Act 20:7 and 1Corinthians 16:2 is Scriptural evidence that the Church had begun to observe the weekly celebration of the Resurrection on the first day of the week.

Let us consider the claims of two Roman Catholic leaders:

What does the Roman church say is the sign of its authority? On January 18, 1563, “the Archbishop of Reggio made a speech in which he openly declared that tradition stood above the Scriptures because the church had changed the Sabbath into Sunday—not by a command of Christ, but by its own authority” (Canon and Tradition, p. 263). http://biblelight.net/bssb-1443-1444.htm

Additionally, the Catholic Mirror of Baltimore, Maryland, published a series of 4 editorials, which appeared in that paper September 2, 9, 16, and 23, 1893 as the expression of the Papacy to Protestantism, and the demand of the Papacy that Protestants shall render to the Papacy an account of why they keep Sunday and also of how they keep it. (Rome’s Challenge: Why Do Protestants Keep Sunday?) http://biblelight.net/chalng.htm

It should be noted that; just because the Roman Catholics claim they changed the Sabbath to Sunday does not prove anything. This claim has to be evaluated scripturally and historically.

Are these two claims valid? Did the Roman Papacy change the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday? First off, not only is this claim dubious, it is a historical impossibility because of the fact that the Papacy did not exist until sometime after the First Council of Nicaea, which convened in AD 325.

The Roman Church may dispute this, but appeals to historical evidence become increasingly flimsy prior to this council for an established and recognized papal system. The Eastern Churches and Coptic Churches show no acceptance of a papal system during the first three centuries of Church history.

The Seventh Day Adventists also take issue with Sunday worship, connecting it with the Roman Church or to Emperor Constantine.

Contrary to this claim that Sunday worship was a Roman Catholic invention, the early church in the East met on Sunday as the day of worship. The Eastern Orthodox Churches have observed Sunday worship from the 1st century.

For example, consider the Eastern Orthodox Worship by Rev. Alciviadis C. Calivas, Th.D.

Rev. Alciviadis says the following:

“The most important day for the Christian community was and continues to be the First day of the Jewish week. For the people of the Old Covenant the First Day was a memorial of the first day of creation, when God separated the light from the darkness. For the people of the New Covenant the first day includes this and much more. The first was the day when the empty tomb was first discovered and the risen Lord made His first appearances to His followers. The first was the day of the Resurrection of Christ and the beginning of the new creation brought about by His victory over death. By the end of the first century the Church gave to this special day of Christ’s resurrection a distinctly Christian name: the Lord’s Day (Kyriake hemera) (Rev. 1: 10).

The Lord’s Day (Sunday) is a Christian institution. It is the Christian festival, founded upon Christ’s resurrection. It is “the day which the Lord has made” (Ps. 117:24). It is a day of rejoicing and holy convocation, when no one is permitted to fast or kneel in sorrow or in penance. In 321 A.D. St. Constantine, the first Christian Emperor, declared it a day of rest. Long before him, however, Christians were already known to observe the day with special solemnity, treating it as a holy day devoted to spiritual things. As a day of rest, the Lord’s Day is not to be abused as a day of idleness and inactivity. For the faithful, it is always a day for participation in the communal worship of the Church, for Christian fellowship, for the service of God through works of charity, for personal quiet and meditation, and for the discovery and enjoyment of God’s presence in us, and in the people and the world that surround and touch our lives.” (1) (Underlining emphasis mine)

Not only do the Eastern Orthodox Christians worship on Sunday, the Syriac, Armenian, and Coptic Christians also worship on Sunday. The Roman Church has never had much influence in the East. The Eastern Churches have always opposed the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome. Thus, it is doubtful that Sunday worship in the East was because of the dictates of a Roman Pope.

According to Wikipedia, It was not until the 4th century, the Roman Church started officially worshipping on Sunday. Historically, the Roman Church was a Johnny come lately to the day change for church worship.

Justin Martyr (ca. 100-ca. 165), who lived at approximately 100 to 165 AD, wrote on the issue of Sunday worship enlightens us historically:

“And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succors the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.” (2)

The writings of the early church Father Justin Martyr point to the celebration of the Lord’s Day on the first day of the week, Sunday; Revelation 1:10.

This flies in the face of the Roman Church’s assertions.

There are other indications of Sunday worship early in Church history. For example:

The Didache:

“1. But every Lord’s Day do ye gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure.” (3)

According to the Didache, Sunday worship started early in church history.

The Didascalia:

“The apostles further appointed: On the first day of the week let there be service, and the reading of the Holy Scriptures, and the oblation, because on the first day of the week our Lord rose from the place of the dead, and on the first day of the week he arose upon the world, and on the first day of the week he ascended up to heaven, and on the first day of the week he will appear at last with the angels of heaven.” (4)

According to the Didascalia, Sunday worship started with the apostles.

St. Ignatius, AD 1491 1556:

“If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death.” (5)

Note: The Didache or The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles is a brief Christian thesis, dated by scholars to the late first or early 2nd century

Note: Didascalia Apostolorum (or just Didascalia) is a Christian treatise. The Didascalia introduces itself as written by the Twelve Apostles at the time of the Council of Jerusalem. However, scholars agree that it was a composition of the 3rd century,

As an aside, what about Emperor Constantine? Did he change the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday as some Seventh Day Adventists claim? This claim does not hold up since Christians were already meeting on Sunday, since the time of the Apostles. Constantine did make a decree regarding worship on Sunday, thus making it easier for Christians to worship on Sunday, which they were already doing.

As noted, Constantine’s decree recognized the three hundred years Christian practice and expanded Christian freedom by allowing them to keep their shops closed:

“On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed.” (6)

This decree by Constantine protected and guaranteed the civil freedom of Christians for their already ongoing practice.

Where did the Protestant Reformers stand on the Saturday Sabbath and Sunday worship?

To start, the burden of proof is on those who maintain the Lord’s Day is the Christian Sabbath Day, and the day was moved from Saturday to Sunday.

The burden of proof for this will now be met:

During the Reformation, the Protestant theologians did not blindly import theology and practices from the Roman Church. They reformed the church by looking at Scripture and binding themselves to the Scriptures as the final court of appeal. During the counter-reformation Counsil of Trent, the Roman Church made many false assertions attempting to undermine Protestant theology. This undermining happened when Roman leaders, as seen above, claimed that the Papacy changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday.

The Scriptural proof of the day change:

The Older Covenant delineated Saturday as the Sabbath, and it was to be eternal.

How did the Protestant Reformers deal with the eternal covenants in the Old Testament?

The Scriptural basis for discontinuity, continuity, and its relevance to the issue at hand:

In the Old Testament, we have specific ordinances and covenants that are to be everlasting. For example, “the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.” Why did the Protestant Reformers call the faithful to worship on Sunday instead of Saturday, when the Scriptures seem to make Saturday the permanent day?

To start, we should note that the Hebrew word “forever,” “olam” can be translated in different ways. Some examples being: forever, perpetual, everlasting, eternal, permanent. The word “forever” does not necessarily mean never-ending in scripture, but can also be understood to mean as lasting only as long as a time or age.

Upon closer examination of the Hebrew word ‘olam, we can raise the question; does this mean that a practice commanded in Scripture will last forever? First, we can admit that it is possible when dealing with the usage of ‘olam, that a practice mentioned may last forever. However, the context of a passage is important when making this determination.

Admitting that ‘olam may mean forever does not invalidate the fact the there are numerous indicators that ‘olam can also be used to describe a practice that will end or change forms going from the Older Covenant into the New.

In particular, ‘olam is used regarding ordinances in the Older Covenant which were to be kept by the people of Israel and not carried over into the New Covenant Church practice in their Older Covenant forms.

It should be noted that there are significant discontinuities and continuities in redemptive history when moving from the Older Covenant into the New Covenant era. In addition, the typological significance of Christ in the Old Testament is where types are prefigured or symbolized. This Christological typology is an interpretive factor in some of the following verses.

Examples of the time limitations of ‘olam:

“Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the doorpost, and; his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.” (Exodus 21:6)

In this passage, ‘olam stresses permanence and that the man would be a servant forever. This verse is explicit in conveying the idea of a limitation of time. The prima facie limitation in this verse is the life span of the servant.

Another example is the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was typological:

“So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore, you shall observe this day throughout your generations, as an everlasting ordinance.” (Exodus 12:17)

The discontinuity is that the New Covenant Church no longer celebrates the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The continuity is that this Feast is fulfilled in Christ.

Consider the Passover:

“Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.” (Exodus 12:14)

The discontinuity is that the New Covenant Church no longer celebrates the Passover feast. The continuity is that all of the Older Covenant feasts, including the Passover, find fulfillment in the Lord’s Supper.

Then there is the example of circumcision:

“And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; every man child among you shall be circumcised.” (Genesis 17:7-10)

The discontinuity is that circumcision is no longer required in the New Covenant. The continuity is that circumcision is replaced by baptism in the New Covenant era as the mark of the covenant.

Now to the Key text in this argument.

The Sabbath Day was to be kept on the seventh day:

“Therefore, the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.” (Exodus 31:16-17)

“ἄρα apoleipetai ἀπολείπεται (sabbatismos, a Sabbath rest) τῷ λαῷ λαῷ Θεοῦ.” (Hebrews 4:9)

“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9 ESV)

The discontinuity is that the day has been changed to the First Day of the week in celebration of the resurrection of Christ. The continuity is that God’s people are to still honor Him by resting for our labors after six days of work Hebrews 4:9. In the Greek text, the word for “rest” in Hebrews 4:9 is sabbatismos, which means “a Sabbath rest.”

Young’s Literal Translation captures the text from Hebrew 4:9 perfectly:

“There doth remain, then, a sabbatic rest to the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9)

Consider Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary entry on (Hebrews 4:9), and the sabbatic rest:

“9. Therefore—because God “speaks of another day (see on [2548] Heb. 4:8).

Remaineth—still to be realized hereafter by the “some (who) must enter therein” (Heb. 4:6), that is, “the people of God,” the true Israel who shall enter into God’s rest (“My rest,” Heb. 4:3). God’s rest was a Sabbatism, so also will ours be.

A rest—Greek, “Sabbatism.” In time, there are many Sabbaths, but then there shall be the enjoyment and keeping of a Sabbath-rest: one perfect and eternal. The “rest” in Heb. 4:8 is Greek, “catapausis;” Hebrew, “Noah”; rest from weariness, as the ark rested on Ararat after its tossings to and fro; and as Israel, under Joshua, enjoyed at last rest from war in Canaan. But the “rest” in this Heb. 4:9 is the nobler and more exalted (Hebrew) “Sabbath” rest; literally, “cessation”: rest from work when finished (Heb. 4:4), as God rested (Re 16:17). The two ideas of “rest” combined, give the perfect view of the heavenly Sabbath. Rest from weariness, sorrow, and sin; and rest in the completion of God’s new creation (Re 21:5). The whole renovated creation shall share in it; nothing will there be to break the Sabbath of eternity; and the Triune God shall rejoice in the work of His hands (Zep 3:17). Moses, the representative of the law, could not lead Israel into Canaan: the law leads us to Christ, and there its office ceases, as that of Moses on the borders of Canaan: it is Jesus, the antitype of Joshua, who leads us into the heavenly rest. This verse indirectly establishes the obligation of the Sabbath still; for the type continues until the antitype supersedes it: so legal sacrifices continued till the great antitypical Sacrifice superseded it, As then the antitypical heavenly Sabbath-rest will not be till Christ, our Gospel Joshua, comes, to usher us into it, the typical earthly Sabbath must continue till then. The Jews call the future rest “the day which is all Sabbath.’” (7)

Preliminary Conclusions:

As seen in these examples of the translation of ‘olam as forever, perceptual, everlasting, eternal, and permanent, we can conclude that there are qualifiers attached that guide our understanding of these passages. In each of these passages, the substance remained, yet the outward form changed, moving from the Older Covenant into the New Covenant. The Sabbath Day is eternal, yet the day of observance changed to Sunday.

The Reformers, on the other hand, looked at continuities and discontinuities in Scripture and concluded that the practice of the early Christians meeting on the first day of the week (Sunday) was a case of a real discontinuity in Scripture.

The Reformed hermeneutic presumes that unless the New Testament sets aside an Old Testament practice as in the case of the dietary laws, we presume the Scriptural command to still be in force, taking into consideration legitimate discontinuities as seen above. If the continuity discontinuity motif is not maintained, it can be alleged that there are contradictions in Scripture.

A Scriptural deduction from the Reformed argument:

1. In light of what has been said above, the first day of the week came to be known as the “Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1:10), and has been the day on which the church gathered with the blessing of the Apostles (Acts 20:7).

2. On the day in which Jesus had been raised from the dead, the risen Lord Himself, chose the first day of the week on which to manifest himself to his disciples when they were gathered together (John 20:19, 26).

Supplemental evidence:

From Sabbath to Lord’s Day: A Biblical, Historical and Theological Investigation by D. A. Carson.

In this work, Carson notes:

“1. The early church met on the Lord’s Day to commemorate Jesus’ Resurrection (Bauckham, 232-245): All four gospels emphasize Jesus’ resurrection on the first day of the week. Though it cannot be proven that this was the reason established for Sunday worship, early Christians did connect gathering on the first day of the week with the Lord’s resurrection (Bauckham, 236, 240).

2. By the end of the first century, “Lord’s Day” is seen to be a technical term already in use about the first day of the week/Sunday, the Christian gathering day (Revelation 1:10; see Bauckham, “Lord’s Day,” 222-232).

3. By the middle of the second century, Lord’s Day worship gatherings are the universal practice of the church (Bauckham, “Lord’s Day,” 230).” (8)

A Reformed exposition of the day change by Professor John Murray on The Pattern of the Lord’s Day:

“The Sabbath as a creation ordinance for all time.

If we accept, the witness of Scripture there can be no question that the weekly Sabbath finds its basis in and derives its sanction from the example of God himself. He created the heavens and the earth in six days and “on the seventh God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it” (Gen. 2:2, 3). The fourth commandment in the Decalogue sets forth the obligation resting upon man and it makes express appeal to this sanction. “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exod. 20:11).

Many regard this Sabbath institution as a shadow of things to come and, therefore, as an ordinance to be observed, has passed away because that of which it was a shadow has been realized in the full light of the new and better covenant. At this point, suffice it to ask the question: has the pattern of God’s work and rest in creation ceased to be relevant? Is this pattern a shadow in the sense of those who espouse this position? The realm of our existence is that established by creation and maintained by God’s providence. The new covenant has in no respect abrogated creation nor has it diminished its relevance. Creation both as action and product is as significant for us as it was for Israel under the old covenant. The refrain of Scripture in both Testaments is that the God of creation is the God of redemption in all stages of covenantal disclosure and realization. This consideration is invested with greater significance when we bear in mind that the ultimate standard for us is likeness to God (cf. Matt. 5:48; 1John 3:2, 3). And it is this likeness, in the sphere of our behaviour, that undergirds the demand for Sabbath observance (Exod. 20:11; 31:17).

The Redemptive Pattern

It is noteworthy that the Sabbath commandment as given in Deuteronomy (Deut. 5:12-15) does not appeal to God’s rest in creation as the reason for keeping the Sabbath day. In this instance, mention is made of something else. “And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and an out-streched arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day” (Deut. 5:15). This cannot be understood as in any way annulling the sanction of Exodus 20:11; 31:17. Deuteronomy comprises what was the reiteration of the covenant made at Sinai. When the Sabbath commandment is introduced, Israel is reminded of the earlier promulgation: “Keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee” (Deut. 5:12). And we should observe that all the commandments have their redemptive sanction. The preface to all is: “I am the Lord thy God which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exod. 20:2; cf. Deut. 5:6). So what we find in Deut. 5; 15 in connection with the Sabbath is but the application of the preface to the specific duty enunciated in the fourth command. It is supplement to Exodus 20:11, not suspension. We have now added reason for observing the Sabbath. This is full of meaning and we must linger to analyze and appreciate.

The deliverance from Egypt was redemption. “Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed” (Exod. 15:13). It is more than any other event the redemption of the Old Testament. It is the analogue of the greater redemption accomplished by Christ. The Sabbath commandment derives its sanction not only from God’s rest in creation but also from redemption out of Egypt’s bondage. This fact that the Sabbath in Israel had a redemptive reference and sanction bears directly upon the question of its relevance in the New Testament. The redemption from Egypt cannot be properly viewed except as the anticipation of the greater redemption wrought in the fullness of time. Hence, if redemption from Egypt accorded sanction to the Sabbath institution and provided reason for its observance the same must apply to the greater redemption and apply in a way commensurate with the greater fullness and dimensions of the redemption secured by the death and resurrection of Christ. In other words, it is the fullness and richness of the new covenant that accord to the Sabbath ordinance increased relevance, sanction, and blessing.

This redemptive reference explains and confirms three features of the New Testament.

1. The Retrospective Reference

Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week (cf. Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). For our present interest the important feature of the New Testament witness is that the first day of the week continued to have _distinctive religious significance_ (cf. Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2). The only explanation of this fact is that the first day was the day of Jesus’ resurrection and for that reason John calls it “the Lord’s day” (Rev. 1:10). The first day took on a memorial significance appropriate to the place the resurrection of Christ occupies in the accomplishment of redemption and in Jesus’ finished work (cf. John 17:4) as also appropriate to the seal imparted by the repeated appearance to his disciples on that day (cf. Matt. 28:9; Luke 24:15-31, 26; John 20:19,26). When Christ rose from the dead he was loosed from the pangs of death (cf. Acts 2:24), he entered upon life indestructible (cf. Rom. 5:10; 6:9, 10), became a “life-giving Spirit” (1Cor. 15:45), and brought “life and immortality to light” (2Tim. 1:10). In a word, he entered upon the rest of his redeeming work. All of this and much more resides in the emphasis, which falls upon the resurrection as a pivotal event in the accomplishment of redemption. The other pivot is the death upon the cross. The sanctity belonging to the first day of the week as the Lord’s Day is the constant reminder of all that Jesus’ resurrection involves. It is the memorial of the resurrection as the Lord’s Supper is the memorial of Jesus’ death upon the tree. Inescapable, therefore, is the conclusion that the resurrection in its redemptive character yields its sanction to the sacredness of the first day of the week just as deliverance from Egypt’s bondage accorded its sanction to the Sabbath institution of the old covenant. This is the rationale for regarding the Lord’s Day as the Christian Sabbath. It follows the line of thought, which the Old Testament itself prescribes for us when it appeals to redemption as the reason for Sabbath observance. The principle enunciated in Deuteronomy 5:15 receives its verification and application in the new covenant in the memorial of finalized redemption, the Lord’s Day.

2. The Manward Reference

Under this caption, we have in mind our Lord’ saying: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27, 28).

The title our Lord uses to designate himself is one that belongs to him in his messianic identity, commission, and office. The lordship he claims is, therefore, redemptively conditioned; it is his lordship as Mediator and Saviour. As such, in accord with his own testimony, he is given all authority in heaven and earth (cf. John 3:36; Matt. 28:18). So every institution is brought within the scope of his lordship. Since he exercises this lordship in the interests of God’s redemptive purpose, it is particularly true that institutions given for the good of man are brought within the scope of his lordship and made to serve the interests of the supreme good which redemption designs and guarantees. It is this governing thought that is applied in the text to the institution of the Sabbath. The accent falls upon the beneficent design of the Sabbath – it was made for man. “Therefore the Son of man is Lord” of it.

When Jesus speaks of the Sabbath, he is specifying the institution defined by the fourth commandment, and he asserts his lordship over it in precisely this character. There is not the slightest intimation of abrogation. For it is the Sabbath in that identity over which he claims to be Lord. Too frequently this text is adduced in support of an alleged relaxation of the requirements set forth in the commandment as if Jesus on this ground were, in the exercise of his authority, defending his disciples for behaviour that went counter to Old Testament requirements. This totally misconstrues the situation in which the words were spoken. Jesus is defending his disciples against the charge of desecration brought by the Pharisees (cf. Mark 2:24). But in doing so he shows by appeal to the Old Testament itself (cf. Matt. 12:4, 5; Mark 2:25, 26) that the behaviour of his disciples was in accord with what the Old Testament sanctioned. It was not deviation from Old Testament requirements that our Lord was condoning but deviation from pharisaical distortion. He was condemning the tyranny by which the Sabbath institution had been made an instrument of oppression. And he did this by appeal to the true intent of the Sabbath as verified by Scripture itself. Of special interest is the relation of the redemptive sanction of the fourth commandment to the claim of Jesus on this occasion. The lordship over the Sabbath is, as observed, redemptively conditioned and thus only within a redemptive design can his lordship of the Sabbath be understood. This is to say that the Sabbath ordinance in its beneficent character comes to full expression within the realm of our Lord’s mediatorial lordship. The Sabbath is not alien to redemption at the zenith of its realization and blessing. As made for man it continues to serve its great purpose in that administration that achieves the acme of covenant grace. This Jesus’ word seals to us – “the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath”.

3. The Prospective Reference

“There remains therefore a Sabbath keeping for the people of God” (Heb. 4:9)

The context of this passage is all-important for its interpretation and for appreciation of its implications. At verse 4 there is quotation of Genesis 2:2: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” This, of course, refers to God’s – own – rest. At verse 5 there is allusion to the rest of Canaan and quotation of Psalm 95:11 (cf. also vs. 3 and 3:11) in reference to the failure of too many to enter into it (cf. Psalm 95:10). The remarkable feature of verse 5 as of Psalm 95:11 is that this rest of Canaan is called God’s rest (“my rest”). Why this characterization? It is not sufficient to say that it was the rest God provided. The proximity of reference to God’s own rest in verse 4 requires more than the thoughts of mere provision by God. We cannot say less than that God calls it his rest because the rest of Canaan was patterned after God’s rest – it partook of the character of God’s rest. The same kind of identification appears in verse 10 with reference to the rest that remains for the people of God. “For he that has entered into his rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from his.” So the rest of Canaan and the rest that remains for the people of God are called God’s rest because both partake of the character of God’s own rest in resting from his creative work on the seventh day. Here is something highly germane to the present topic.

It is clear that the rest of Canaan and the rest that remains for the people of God are redemptive in character. Since they are patterned after God’s rest in creation, this means that the redemptive takes on the character of that rest of God upon which the Sabbath institution for man originally rested and from which it derived its sanction. We cannot but discover in this again the close relation between the creative and the redemptive in the Sabbath ordinance and the coherence of Exodus 20:11 and Deuteronomy 5:15. We are reminded again that likeness to God governs man’s obligation and is brought to its realization in the provisions of redemption. In the consummation of redemption, the Sabbath rest of God’s people achieves conformity to the fullest extent. “For he who has entered into his rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from his” (cf. Rev. 14:13). The Sabbath institution in all its aspects and applications has this prospective reference; the whole movement of redemption will find its finale in the Sabbath rest that remains. The weekly Sabbath is the promise, token, and foretaste of the consummated rest; it is also the earnest. The biblical philosophy of the Sabbath is such that to deny its perpetuity is to deprive the movement of redemption of one of its most precious strands.

Redemption has a past, a present, and a future. In the Sabbath as “the Lord’s Day,” all three are focused. In retrospect, it is the memorial of our Lord’s resurrection. In the present with resurrection joy, it fulfils its beneficent design by the lordship of the Son of man. As prospect, it is the promise of the inheritance of the saints. With varying degrees of understanding and application, it is this perspective that dictated the observance of the Lord’s Day in catholic, protestant and reformed tradition. Shall we forfeit in institution so embedded in redemptive revelation and recognized as such in the history of the church of Christ? In the faith and for the honour of the Sabbath’s Lord may we answer with a decisive, no! In devotion to him may we increasingly know the joy and blessing of the recurring day of rest and worship.” (9)

John Murray answers the argument that Romans 14:5 ends the fourth commandment in the New Covenant era:

“APPENDIX D

ROMANS 14:5 AND THE WEEKLY SABBATH

The question is whether the weekly Sabbath comes within the scope of the distinction respecting days on which the apostle reflects in Romans 14:5. If so then we have to reckon with the following implications.

1. This would mean that the Sabbath commandment in the decalogue does not continue to have any binding obligation upon believers in the New Testament economy. The observance of one day in seven as holy and invested with the sanctity enunciated in the fourth commandment would be abrogated and would be in the same category in respect of observance as the ceremonial rites of the Mosaic institution. On the assumption posited, insistence upon the continued sanctity of each recurring seventh day would be as Judaizing as to demand the perpetuation of the Levitical feasts.

2. The first day of the week would have no prescribed religious significance. It would not be distinguished from any other day as the memorial of Christ’s resurrection and could not properly be regarded as the Lord’s day in distinction from the way in which every day is to be lived in devotion to and the service of the Lord Christ. Neither might any other day, weekly or otherwise, be regarded as set apart with this religious significance.

3. Observance of a weekly Sabbath or of a day commemorating our Lord’s resurrection would be a feature of the person weak in faith and in this case he would be weak in faith because he had not yet attained to the understanding that in the Christian institution all days are in the same category. Just as one weak Christian fails to recognize that all kinds of food are clean, so another, or perchance the same person, would fail to esteem every day alike.

These implications of the thesis in question cannot be avoided. We may now proceed to examine them in the light of the considerations which Scripture as a whole provides.

1. The Sabbath institution is a creation ordinance. It did not begin to have relevance at Sinai when the ten commandments were given to Moses on two tables (cf. Gen. 2:2, 3; Exod. 16:21–23). It was, however, incorporated in the law promulgated at Sinai and this we would expect in view of its significance and purpose as enunciated in Genesis 2:2, 3. It is so embedded in this covenant law that to regard it as of different character from its context in respect of abiding relevance goes counter to the unity and basic significance of what was inscribed on the two tables. Our Lord himself tells us of its purpose and claims it for his messianic Lordship (Mark 2:28). The thesis we are now considering would have to assume that the pattern provided by God himself (Gen. 2:2, 3) in the work of creation (cf. also Exod. 20:11; 31:17) has no longer any relevance for the regulation of man’s life on earth, that only nine of the ten words of the decalogue have authority for Christians, that the beneficent design contemplated in the original institution (Mark 2:28) has no application under the gospel, and that the lordship Christ exercised over the Sabbath was for the purpose of abolishing it as an institution to be observed. These are the necessary conclusions to be drawn from the assumption in question. There is no evidence to support any of these conclusions, and, when they are combined and their cumulative force frankly weighed, it is then that the whole analogy of Scripture is shown to be contradicted by the assumption concerned.

2. The first day of the week as the day on which Jesus rose from the dead (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19) is recognized in the New Testament as having a significance derived from this fact of Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2) and this is the reason why John speaks of it as the Lord’s day (Rev. 1:10). It is the one day of the week to which belongs this distinctive religious significance. Since it occurs every seventh day, it is a perpetually recurring memorial with religious intent and character proportionate to the place which Jesus’ resurrection occupies in the accomplishment of redemption. The two pivotal events in this accomplishment are the death and resurrection of Christ and the two memorial ordinances of the New Testament institution are the Lord’s supper and the Lord’s day, the one memorializing Jesus’ death and the other his resurrection. If Paul in Romans 14:5 implies that all distinctions of days have been obliterated, then there is no room for the distinctive significance of the first day of the week as the Lord’s day. The evidence supporting the memorial character of the first day is not to be controverted and, consequently, in this respect also the assumption in question cannot be entertained, namely, that all religious distinction of days is completely abrogated in the Christian economy.

3. In accord with the analogy of Scripture and particularly the teaching of Paul, Romans 14:5 can properly be regarded as referring to the ceremonial holy days of the Levitical institution. The obligation to observe these is clearly abrogated in the New Testament. They have no longer relevance or sanction and the situation described in Romans 14:5 perfectly accords with what Paul would say with reference to religious scrupulosity or the absence of such anent these days. Paul was not insistent upon the discontinuance of ritual observances of the Levitical ordinances as long as the observance was merely one of religious custom and not compromising the gospel (cf. Acts 18:18, 21; 21:20–27). He himself circumcised Timothy from considerations of expediency. But in a different situation he could write: “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing” (Gal. 5:2). Ceremonial feast days fall into the category of which the apostle could say: “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike”. Many Jews would not yet have understood all the implications of the gospel and had still a scrupulous regard for these Mosaic ordinances. Of such scruples we know Paul to have been thoroughly tolerant and they fit the precise terms of the text in question. There is no need to posit anything that goes beyond such observances. To place the Lord’s day and the weekly Sabbath in the same category is not only beyond the warrant of exegetical requirements but brings us into conflict with principles that are embedded in the total witness of Scripture. An interpretation that involves such contradiction cannot be adopted. Thus the abiding sanctity of each recurring seventh day as the memorial of God’s rest in creation and of Christ’s exaltation in his resurrection is not to be regarded as in any way impaired by Romans 14:5.” (10)

Reformed Confessional support for the Sunday is the Christian Sabbath:

The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks which day of the seven has God appointed. The Shorter Catechism in Q.59 puts it this way:

“Q.59. Which day of the seven has God appointed to be the weekly Sabbath?

A. From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly Sabbath; and the first day of the week ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian Sabbath.”

Westminster Confession of 1646: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day

“Chapter XXI. Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day with Scriptural proofs

I. The light of nature showeth that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and doth good unto all, and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart and with all the soul, and with all the might, (Rom 1:20; Act 17:24; Psa 119:68; Jer 10:7; Psa 31:23; Psa 18:3; Rom 10:12; Psa 62:8; Jos 24:14; Mar 12:33). But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture, (Deu 12:32; Mat 15:9; Act 17:25; Mat 4:9-10; Deu 15:1-20; Exd 20:4-6; Col 2:23).

II. Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to Him alone, (Mat 4:10; Jhn 5:23; 2Co 13:14); not to angels, saints, or any other creature, (Col 2:18; Rev 19:10; Rom 1:25): and, since the fall, not without a Mediator; nor in the mediation of any other but of Christ alone, (Jhn 14:6; 1Ti 2:5; Eph 2:18; Col 3:17).

III. Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship, (Phl 4:6); is by God required of all men, (Psa 65:2): and, that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son, (Jhn 14:13-14; 1Pe 2:5); by the help of His Spirit, (Rom 8:26); according to His will, (1Jo 5:14); with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance, (Psa 47:7; Ecc 5:1-2; Hbr 12:28; Gen 18:27; Jam 5:16; Jam 1:6-7; Mar 11:24; Mat 6:12, 14-15; Col 4:2; Eph 6:18); and, if vocal, in a, known tongue, (1Co 14:14).

IV. Prayer is to be made for things lawful, (1Jo 5:14); and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter, (1Ti 2:1-2; Jhn 17:20; 2Sa 7:29; Rth 4:12): but not for the dead, (2Sa 12:21-23; Luk 16:25-26; Rev 14:13); nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death, (1Jo 5:16).

V. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear, (Act 15:21; Rev 1:3); the sound preaching, (2Ti 4:2); and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence, (Jam 1:22; Act 10:33; Mat 13:19; Hbr 4:2; Isa 66:2); singing of psalms with grace in the heart, (Col 3:16; Eph 5:19; Jam 5:13); as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God, (Mat 28:19; 1Co 11:23-29; Act 2:42): beside religious oaths, (Deu 6:13; Neh 10:29); vows, (Isa 19:21; Ecc 5:4-5); solemn fastings, (Joe 2:12; Est 4:16; Mat 9:15; 1Co 7:5); and thanksgivings upon special occasions, (Psa 107; Est 9:22); which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner, (Hbr 12:28).

VI. Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious worship, is now, under the Gospel, either tied unto, or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed, (Jhn 4:21): but God is to be worshipped everywhere, (Mal 1:11; 1Ti 2:8); in spirit and truth, (Jhn 4:23-24); as, in private families, (Jer 10:25; Deu 6:6-7; Job 1:5; 2Sa 6:18, 20; 1Pe 3:7, Act 10:2); daily, (Mat 6:11); and in secret, each one by himself, (Mat 6:6; Eph 6:18); so, more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly or wilfully to be neglected, or forsaken, when God, by His Word or providence, calleth thereunto, (Isa 56:6-7; Hbr 10:25; Pro 1:20-21, 24; Pro 8:34; Act 13:42; Luk 4:16; Act 2:42).

VII. As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, He hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto Him, (Exd 20:8, 10-11; Isa 56:2, 4, 6-7): which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week, (Gen 2:2-3; 1Co 16:1-2; Act 20:7); and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord’s Day, (Rev 1:10); and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath, (Exd 20:8, 10; Mat 5:17-18).

VIII. This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest, all the day, from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, (Exd 20:8; Exd 16:23, 25-26, 29-30; Exd 31:15-17; Isa 58:13; Neh 13:15-19, 21-22); but also are taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy, (Isa 58:13; Mat 12:1-13).”

The Westminster Catechism and Confession one of Protestantism’ greatest confessions understand the Saturday Sabbath changed to Sunday along with its Sabbath significance.

Conclusion with a summary of Scriptural reasons for the day change:

1. The Lord rose from the dead on the first day of the week, Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 25:1; and John 20:1, 19, 26.

2. In the book of Acts, we learn more about Sunday, the day of Christ’s resurrection. “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” (Acts 20:7)

3. In 1Corinthians 16:1-2, Paul tells us that not only in Corinth but all the churches of Galatia met upon the first day of the week. Moreover, the apostles commanded the observation of this day rather than any other day for Sabbath services.

4. Regarding Sunday, the first day of the week, it can be said: this day is sanctified to be holy to the Lord above any other day, and therefore it has the Lord’s name upon it and consequently is called the Lord’s day, as is manifest from Revelation1:10.

In answer to the opening questions, the Roman Catholic assertion that the Papacy changed the Saturday Sabbath to Sunday worship does not hold up historically, nor most importantly, biblically.

Quotes from Protestant theologians:

“And we may boldly say that a man does not love the Lord Jesus Christ who does not love the entire Lord’s Day.” – Robert Murray M’Cheyne

“It is not too much to say that the prosperity or decay of organized Christianity depends on the maintenance of the Christian Sabbath.” – J.C. Ryle

“To profane the Sabbath is a great sin; it is a willful contempt of God … This is to despise God, to hang out the flag of defiance, to throw down the gauntlet, and challenge God himself.” – Thomas Watson

“If we possess any measure of the true spirit of devotion, this sacred day will be most welcome to our hearts.” – A.A. Alexander

“Every decree of God is eternal; therefore it cannot depend upon a condition which takes place only in time. (2) God’s decrees depend on his good pleasure (eudokia) (Mt. 11:26; Eph. 1:5; Rom. 9:11. Therefore, they are not suspended upon any condition outside of God. (3) Every decree of God is immutable (Is. 46); Rom. 9:11).” – Francis Turretin (1623-1687)

“Christ took the Sabbath into the grave with him and brought the Lord’s Day out of the grave with him on the resurrection morn” – B. B. Warfield, (“The Sabbath in the Word of God,” Selected Shorter Writings Vol. 1, (Nutley, NJ:

Presbyterian and Reformed, 1970), p. 319.

To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)

Notes:

1. Rev. Alciviadis C. Calivas, Th.D., Encountering Christ in Worship, https://www.goarch.org/-/orthodox-worship

2. Justin Martyr, The First Apology of Justin, Chap. 67, pp. 354, 355.

3. Didache Chapter XIV.11, Christian Assembly on the Lord’s Day, 14 [A.D. 70]).

4. Didascalia Apostolorum, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1929), 2.

5. Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians, Chapter IX.

6. (Constantine, March 7, 321. Codex Justinianus lib. 3, tit. 12, 3; translated in Philip Schaff’s, History of the Christian Church), Vol. 3, p. 380, note 1.

7. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1977) p. 1405-1406.

8. R. J. Bauckham, “Lord’s Day,” in From Sabbath to Lord’s Day, ed. D. A. Carson, pages 221-250.

9. John Murray, The Sabbath, The Pattern of the Lord’s Day, (United Kingdom, Lord’s Day Observance Society), out of print.

10. John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans, vol. 2, The New International Commentary on the Old and New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1968), 257–259.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: http://www.thereligionthatstartedinahat.com/

Additional Resources on the change of the day from Saturday to Sunday:

Honoring Jesus as Sabbath King: Historical-redemptive arguments for a Sunday-Sabbath
by Richard A. Ostella

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What does the Bible say about Homosexuality?

What does the Bible say about Homosexuality? By Jack Kettler

As in previous studies, we will look at definitions, scriptures, lexical, and commentary evidence for the purpose to glorify God in how we live. Today many so-called evangelistic churches are open to marrying people of the same sex. In the name of tolerance and love, age-old biblical standards are being swept aside. Being open and asking questions has taken the place of doctrinal certainty.

Doctrinal uncertainty about homosexuality is shocking in light of the numerous warnings in the Scriptures about homosexuality. How many of those that are taking a new tolerant view of homosexuality have read the Bible in its entirety? The problem is not with biblical clarity on this issue but with willful biblical illiteracy. Biblical ignorance is not an excuse that will work on judgment day.

What does the Bible say about homosexuality? Is homosexuality a sin?

Answer: In some people’s minds, being homosexual is as much outside one’s control as the color of your skin and your height. On the other hand, the Bible clearly and consistently declares that homosexual activity is a sin (Genesis 19:1–13; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26–27; 1Corinthians 6:9). *

The Scriptures:

“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22)

From Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on the passage from Leviticus:

“Thou shall not lie with mankind as with womankind, By carnal knowledge of them, and carnal copulation with them, and mixing bodies in like manner: this is the sin commonly called sodomy, from the inhabitants of Sodom, greatly addicted to it, for which their city was destroyed by fire: those that are guilty of this sin, are, by the apostle, called “abusers of themselves with mankind”, 1 Corinthians 6:9, it is abomination; it is so to God, as the above instance of his vengeance shows, and ought to be abominable to men, as being not only contrary to the law of God, but even contrary to nature itself, and what is never to be observed among brute creatures.” (1)

Moses continues:

“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13)

The next entries are from the Apostle Paul:

“And the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” (Romans 1:27 ESV)

From the Pulpit Commentary on Romans 1:27:

“Verse 27. – And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. By the “recompense” (ἀντιμισθίαν) is meant here, not any further result, such as disease or physical prostration, but the very fact of their being given up to a state in which they can crave and delight in such odious gratifications of unnatural lust. It is the ἀντιμισθία τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν, the final judgment on them for going astray from God. And surely to the pure-minded there is no more evident token of Divine judgment than the spectacle of the unnatural cravings and indulgence of the sated sensualist.” (2)

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality.” (1Corinthians 6:9 ESV)

Matthew Poole’s Commentary on 1Corinthians 6:9:

“That by the kingdom of God is here meant the kingdom of glory, the happiness of another life, is plain, because he speaketh in the future tense; this kingdom, he saith, the unrighteous, that is, those who so live and die, shall not inherit.

If we take the term unrighteous here to be a generical term, the species, or some of the principal species, of which are afterwards enumerated, it signifieth here the same with notoriously wicked men. But if we take it to signify persons guilty of acts of injustice towards themselves or others, it cannot be here understood as a general term, relating to all those species of sinners after enumerated; for so idolaters cannot properly be called unrighteous, but ungodly men.

Be not deceived, (saith the apostle), either by any false teachers, or by the many ill examples of such sinners that you daily have, nor by magistrates’ connivance at these sins.

Neither fornicators; neither such as, being single persons, commit uncleanness with others (for here the apostle distinguisheth these sinners from adulterers, whom he mentioneth afterward).

Nor idolaters, nor such as either worship the creature instead of God, or worship the true God before images.

Nor adulterers, nor such as, being married persons, break their marriage covenant, and commit uncleanness with such as are not their yokefellows.

Nor effeminate persons, nor persons that give up themselves to lasciviousness, burning continually in lusts.

Nor abusers of themselves with mankind; nor such as are guilty of the sin of Sodom, a sin not to be named amongst Christians or men.” (3)

“The sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.” (1Timothy 1:10 ESV)

Again from Matthew Poole’s Commentary on 1Timothy 1:10:

“The two next terms express violaters of the seventh commandment, whether by fornication, adultery, incest, sodomy, or any beastly lusts.

Men-stealers; the word signifieth such as carry men into captivity, or make slaves of them in the first place; it signifies also any stealing of men. It is probable the first of these is the man-stealing principally intended, being the most common sin by pirates at sea, and soldiers at land; yet not excluding any other stealing of men from their relations, which he instanceth in, as one of the highest violations of the eighth commandment. By liars, he meaneth such as knowingly speak what is false, especially to the prejudice of others.

By perjured persons he means such as swear falsely. And cause it would be too long to reckon up all kinds of sinners, he comprehends them all in a general phrase, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, that is, the holy and pure truth of God, that is not corrupted, but judges aright of good and evil:

for these he saith the law is made, that is, to deter from such crimes, or to condemn for them; but not to terrify such who either never were guilty of such flagitious crimes, or if they have been guilty, yet are now washed, and sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of God, as the apostle speaks, 1Corinthians 6:11. The law (as the apostle here saith) was never made to terrify, or to condemn and affright, these, for, Romans 8:1: There is no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (4)

Jude the brother of James declares:

“Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” (Jude 1:7)

Comments:

The New Testament passages along with the Levitical passages considered thus far, if taken at face value are overwhelming in answering the question of our study. What we have seen to this point on homosexuality seems irrefutable. The Bible states that homosexual activity is a sin.

In hermeneutics, the literal interpretation or face value reading of a text is usually correct. It is also similar to an approach known as Occam’s razor. This principle says a simpler solution is more likely to be correct. If the reader has read pro-homosexual interpretations of the Scriptures, the simpler face value interpretation is discarded. See the link below for interaction with pro-homosexual interpretations of biblical texts with theologian Greg Bahnsen.

From Strong’s Lexicon:

From a previous, study the definition of sexual immorality comes from the Greek word porneia. Porneia can also be translated as “whoredom,” “fornication,” and “idolatry.” It can include adultery, prostitution, sexual relations between unmarried individuals, and homosexuality.

Sexual immorality Πορνεία (Porneia) Strong’s Greek 4202: Fornication, whoredom, met: idolatry. From porneuo; harlotry; figuratively, idolatry.

The reader is encouraged to obtain the following book.

Selections from Homosexuality A Biblical View by Greg Bahnsen:

From the preface

“Historically Christians have taught that people do not have an unlimited right to do with their bodies as they please. Such a view is undermined today by defenders of three discernible and outspoken factions in our culture: feminists, abortionists, and homosexuals. Ethical questions pertaining to this last group are examined in the present study. While specific variations within sexual identity and orientation are recognized, the general term homosexual will be used here for any person, male or female (thus including lesbians), who engages in sexual relations with members of the same sex or who desires to do so. Homosexuality is an affectional attraction to or active sexual relation with a person of the same sex.

The ironic problem with the modern discussion of homosexuality is its virtually uncritical perpetuation of cultural prejudices — despite its espoused open mindedness and neutralized bias. Certain questionable assumptions in ethics, the human sciences, and political thought have misled our society toward tolerance for homosexuality in personal, ecclesiastical, and civil spheres. Study of the Scriptures should bring one to contest those popular assumptions and has convinced me that homosexuality ought to be challenged in all three of these areas. Individuals should disapprove of and oppose homosexuality rather than making it a civil right. We must equally insist that individuals not take a holier-than-thou attitude toward homosexual sin, that churches faithfully proclaim the goodness of deliverance to homosexuals, and that the state not persecute them by entrapment, invasion of privacy, or intentionally selective and uneven attention.”

From Chapter Two

“God’s verdict on homosexuality is inescapably clear. His law is a precise interpretation of the sexual order of creation for fallen man, rendering again His intention and direction for sexual relations. When members of the same sex (homo-sexual) practice intercourse with each other (expressed by the idiom “to lie with,” shakar eth), they violate God’s basic creation order in a vile or abominable fashion. Throughout Leviticus we see God’s absolute standards for purity; in the sexual realm one may not profanely use the creation of God, “uncovering the nakedness” of man, woman, or beast indiscriminately. Sexual relations must be conducted within God-given boundaries.

What was revealed in the creation account and the history of Sodom has been confirmed in statutory form. The Lord will not tolerate homosexuality. However, it is not surprising that those who suppress the implications of sexual differentiation at creation and who reinterpret the sin of Sodom have also attempted to mitigate the condemnation of God’s law regarding homosexuality.

Some attempts are hardly worth refuting. We are told that love is the only issue in any sexual relationship, and therefore it would be submitting to a double standard of morality for the Christian to condone heterosexual love-making and condemn homosexual love-making. As their argument goes, God surely would not expect the manner of attaining sexual gratification to be made important, setting down a standard that commends one sexual preference while condemning another. Such a rationale not only ignores the specific revelation of God in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, where it is clear that God does indeed regard the specific manner of one’s sexual gratification to be morally important, but also it easily can be reduced to absurdity (e.g., “surely God would not have a double standard regarding the attainment of money, distinguishing between work and theft”).

New Testament confirmation of the Old Testament ethic regarding homosexuality.

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire towards one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error . . . And although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things [the sins listed in verses 28-31] are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

In this context, Paul was teaching that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against those who turn from their proper relationship to the Creator; suppressing the truth of God, they resort to various forms of idolatry, serving the creature with darkened minds and foolish reasoning. In response, God gives them over to impure lusts and the dishonoring of their bodies specifically, to homosexuality, which in turn stimulates further depravities. Men who give up God and His law are eventually given up by God to wander in morally polluted practices that become a way of life. Specifically, the penalty for man’s rebellion against the true service to God is homosexuality, which Paul described with reinforcing disapprobation as “impurity,” “dishonoring of the body,” “degrading passions,” “indecent acts” (or “shameless deeds”), “error,” the “improper” activity of a “depraved mind.” Homosexuality exchanges the natural use of sex for unnatural sexual practices, thereby evidencing immoral perversion in the most intimate of human relations and being “worthy of death.” The best commentary on this teaching is found in the Old Testament, upon which Paul drew heavily.

Scripture’s most obvious condemnation of homosexuality as intrinsically immoral is found in this Romans passage. Nevertheless, there are those who seek to evade its straightforward indictment. In the first place there are those who maintain that Paul did not single out homosexuality as especially offensive among sins; it is not taken up as a subject in its own right but merely dealt with incidentally among the results of a perverted relationship to God presented simply as part of a broader pattern of pagan excesses.”

From Chapter Four

“An ever-increasing flow of rhetoric from unorthodox churchmen maintains that homosexuality should be normalized and that the church should side with homosexuals as an oppressed minority. The propaganda can get quite heavy in this regard: “homosexuals are the scapegoats for fears felt by the majority in the church,” “homosexuality is at base a heterosexual problem (inability to cope with one’s own inverted feelings),” “a condemning church and society are to blame for the promiscuity among homosexuals,” “homosexual marriage should not be precluded simply because there is no possibility of conception,” “it is a pitiful irony that the agency for proclaiming God’s gracious and loving activity should behave so ungraciously and unlovingly toward people who simply have a different sexual orientation,” and so on. These and similar charges are part of a campaign launched on the persuasive force of emotion rather than substantial exegesis, ethical reasoning, and good arguments. The aim of such accusations is, as many authors admit, to convince opponents of homosexuality that they are in fact the guilty party, persecutors of healthy and brave people who want only the normal rights of any human beings and acceptance in the church.

In contrast to such delusive personal opinions, Paul clearly and authoritatively placed homosexuals outside the kingdom of God. In 1Corinthians 6:9, 10 he wrote: “Do not be led astray; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” Paul was very specific. Whereas all the other sins on this list are simply repeated from 1Corinthians 5:9-11 (a similar catalogue of sins), the sins of sexual immorality are amplified into specific forms: fornication, adultery, and homosexuality. And the latter category of sexual immorality is further detailed: Paul excluded from God’s kingdom both malakoi and arsenokoitai. The former (literally meaning “soft, gentle,” and in moral contexts “yielding, or remiss”) refers to those who allow themselves to be homosexually misused, taking the passive role; the latter is in the masculine gender and is a compound from the words for “male” and “bed” (English transliteration, “coitus,” from its Greek euphemism), thereby referring to men who have intercourse with men; it is analogous to the Old Testament reference to men who go to bed with (“lie with”) other males — i.e., those who take the active role in a homosexual relation.

Paul introduced this list of those who are excluded from God’s kingdom with the phrase, “do not be led astray.” This seems to have been a technical expression used by Paul to charge Christians not to participate in the sins of pagans. It parallels Old Testament passages such as Leviticus 18:24-30, where God’s people were instructed not to practice the abominations that characterized reprobate nations. “Do not be led astray,” indicates that it is precisely in such matters, as this that men deceive themselves, rationalizing that God cannot mean His moral demands seriously. This fundamental error is encountered increasingly today in the form of ingenious but wayward defenses of homosexuality.

It must be concluded that practicing homosexuals should not be admitted to the church and, even more certainly, to its ordained offices. Rather the church must declare with Paul, “The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord.” The bodies of those who belong to Christ are members of Christ, temples of the Holy Spirit, and they are bought with a redemptive price; therefore, Christians must flee immorality and glorify God in their bodies. Since homosexuals give manifest evidence that they are unsubmissive to these requirements and commit abominable sins against their own bodies, they cannot make a credible profession of faith in the Savior without repentance from and repudiation of this sin.

To those supporters of homosexuality who argue, contrary to Paul’s teaching in 1Corinthians 6, that homosexuals deserve to be accepted as such into the church and that Paul’s condemnation of them is not to be taken seriously today, we must point out Paul’s further warning in 1Corinthians 14:37-38. Anyone who does not recognize the things, which Paul wrote as the Lord’s commandment, is himself not recognized by the Lord, nor is he a spiritual man. By this, the church can know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error: the one who genuinely knows God will listen to the apostles, and the one who is not from God will not listen. As apostolic doctrine is a mark of the church of Christ, those modern assemblies that admit practicing homosexuals to membership and ordination jeopardize their Christian status — the very charge they level against churches that obey the apostolic instruction and “ungraciously” refuse admission to unrepentant homosexuals.

In conclusion, the response of the church to the homosexual must be that of Paul in Romans 12:1, 2, urging them by the mercies of God to present their bodies as living and holy sacrifices to God, not conformed to this world but transformed by the renewing of their minds, so that they may prove the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God. To that end, the church excludes unrepentant homosexuals and evangelizes them, showing the gospel to be the basis of forgiveness before God as well as the power of ethical renewal. When converted by God’s grace, the homosexual must be wholeheartedly received by the church as a person for whom Christ died, and the church must exercise the same care and admonition toward him as for all repentant sinners. Encouraging the converted homosexual in his new life includes instruction in the means of grace, active Christian fellowship, and informed and practical pastoral counsel.

In short, the church must both express strong disapproval of homosexuality as a vile sin and engage in an effort to bring God’s powerful and good news to bear on the lives of homosexuals. Here as always the Christian must strive in sincerity to speak Christ’s full Word as from God, manifesting the knowledge of Him in every place, and thus being either an aroma from death to death or an aroma from life to life.” (5)

In closing:

Jesus never directly addressed the subject of homosexuality. To use this silence as an argument in support of homosexuality is to use a fallacious argument, namely, an argument from silence.

Jesus did speak to a topic that has implications on a relevant lifestyle question, that of marriage:

“And he answered and said unto them, have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?” (Matthew 19:4-5)

In Matthew 19:4-5 Jesus is quoting from Genesis 1:27, 2:24.

Can someone genuinely repent from homosexuality and live life as a heterosexual or as a single person living chaste and struggling with acknowledged unwanted sexual desires? 1Corinthians 6:11 must be consulted for an answer to this question. In 1Corinthians 6:9 Paul mentions “the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality” inherit the kingdom of God.

Then Paul says:

“And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1Corinthians 6:11)

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible get right to the point on the phrase “And such were some of you:”

“And such were some of you, not all, but some of them; and of these everyone was not guilty of all these crimes; but some had been guilty of one, and others of another; so that they had been all committed by one or another of them. The Corinthians were a people very much given to uncleanness and luxury, without measure (i), which was the ruin of their state: and among these wicked people God had some chosen vessels of salvation; who are put in mind of their former state, partly for their present humiliation, when they considered what they once were, no better than others, but children of wrath, even as others; and partly to observe to them, and the more to illustrate and magnify the grace of God in their conversion, pardon, justification, and salvation; as also to point out to them the obligations that lay upon them to live otherwise now than they formerly did.” (6)

In conclusion, we believe that Paul is speaking the Word of God; and it is possible by the goodness of God, which leads men to repentance (Romans 2:4) that a sexually immoral person can be changed and live a pure life.

Notes:

1. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Leviticus, 9 Volumes, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 279.

2. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, Romans, Vol.18., (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 13.

3. Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 556.

4. Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 774-775.

5. Greg Bahnsen, Homosexuality A Biblical View, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing CO.), pp. 5-6; 36-37; 48-49; 87-89; 98-99.

6. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, 1Corinthians, 9 Volumes, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 117.

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: http://www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

For more study:

* Homosexuality https://www.gotquestions.org/homosexuality-Bible.html

Recommended Reading:

Greg Bahnsen, Homosexuality a Biblical View

Interaction with pro-homosexual interpretations with theologian Greg Bahnsen Use the following link to down load Homosexuality a Biblical View See; 4.The Response of the Church https://veritasdomain.files.wordpress.com/…/homosexuality-g…

Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, an English professor’s journey into the Christian faith

Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, Openness Unhindered

Rosaria Butterfield’s website is at https://rosariabutterfield.com/

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What does the Bible say about Fornication?

What does the Bible say about Fornication? By Jack Kettler

As in previous studies, we will look at definitions, scriptures, lexical, and commentary evidence for the purpose to glorify God in how we live. Unfortunately, among young people today in nondenominational evangelistic churches, biblical reasons from abstaining for sex before marriage are said to be unclear.

Doctrinal uncertainty like this is shocking in light of the numerous warnings in Scripture about sexual immorality. How many of those saying such a thing have read the New Testament in its entirety? The problem is not with biblical clarity on this issue but with willful biblical illiteracy. Biblical ignorance is not an excuse that will work on judgment day.

The Scriptures:

“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17)

“But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery (ἐμοίχευσεν emoicheusen) with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)

“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries (μοιχεῖαι moicheiai), sexual immorality (πορνεῖαι porneiai), thefts, false witness, and blasphemies.” (Matthew 15:19)

“Flee fornication (πορνείαν porneian). Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication (πορνεύων porneuōn) sinneth against his own body.” (1Corinthians 6:18)

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication (Πορνεία Porneia), uncleanness, lasciviousness.” (Galatians 5:19)

“But sexual immorality (Πορνεία Porneia), and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints.” (Ephesians 5:3)

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality (πορνείαν porneian), impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5)

Glossary of terms and entries from Strong’s Lexicon:

Definition of fornication: Fornication is voluntary sexual intercourse between two people not married to each other. In contemporary usage, the term is often replaced with extramarital sex.

Fornication πορνείαν (porneian) Strong’s Greek 4202: Fornication, whoredom, met: idolatry. From porneuo; harlotry; figuratively, idolatry.

Definition of adultery: Voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than that person’s current spouse.

Adultery ἐμοίχευσεν (emoicheusen) Strong’s Greek 3431: To commit adultery (of a man with a married woman, but also of a married man). From moichos, to commit adultery.

Definition of sexual immorality:

Sexual immorality comes from the Greek word porneia. Porneia can also be translated as “whoredom,” “fornication,” and “idolatry.” It is primarily used of premarital sex. It can include adultery, prostitution, sexual relations between unmarried individuals, and homosexuality

Sexual immorality Πορνεία (Porneia) Strong’s Greek 4202: Fornication, whoredom, met: idolatry. From porneuo; harlotry; figuratively, idolatry.

Synonyms for fornication:
Adultery, illicit intercourse, unlicensed intercourse, promiscuousness, extramarital sex, premarital sex, carnality, unchastely, lewdness, licentiousness, unfaithfulness, whoredom, harlotry, prostitution, and concubinage.

Clarifying comments:

Fornication refers to sexual relations outside of marriage whereas; the term sexual immorality is broader and covers many illicit sexual practices. Whenever the Scriptures call believers to flee from sexual immorality, it includes premarital sex.

The Scriptures tell believers to “flee,” to “put to death,” and speaking of sexual sins, “let it not be once named among you.” The apostle Paul calls sexual sins “the works of the flesh” in Galatians 5:19. Paul clearly says, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Romans 8:13).

Fornication, Fornicator – Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

Fornication, Fornicator

[A-1, Noun, G4202, porneia]

is used

(a) of illicit sexual intercourse, in John 8:41; Acts 15:20, Acts 15:29; Acts 21:25; 1Corinthians 5:1; 1Corinthians 6:13, 1Corinthians 6:18; 2Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Revelation 2:21; Revelation 9:21; in the plural in 1 Corinthians 7:2; in Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9 it stands for, or includes, adultery; it is distinguished from it in Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21;

(b) metaphorically, of “the association of pagan idolatry with doctrines of, and professed adherence to, the Christian faith,” Revelation 14:8; Revelation 17:2, Revelation 17:4; Revelation 18:3; Revelation 19:2; some suggest this as the sense in Revelation 2:21.

[A-2, Noun, G4205, pornos]

denotes “a man who indulges in fornication, a fornicator,” 1Corinthians 5:9-11; 1Corinthians 6:9; Ephesians 5:5, RV; 1Timothy 1:10, RV; Hebrews 12:16; Hebrews 13:4, RV; Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15, RV (AV, “whoremonger”).

[B-1, Verb, G4203, porneuo]

“to commit fornication,” is used

(a) literally, Mark 10:19; 1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Corinthians 10:8; Revelation 2:14, Revelation 2:20, See

(a) and

(b) above;

(b) metaphorically, Revelation 17:2; Revelation 18:3, Revelation 18:9.

[B-2, Verb, G1608, ekporneuo]

a strengthened form of No. 1 (ek, used intensively), “to give oneself up to fornication,” implying excessive indulgence, Jude 1:7. (1)

Now for an outstanding overview of sexual immorality!

Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology – Immorality, Sexual:

Immorality, Sexual

Interpersonal activity involving sex organs that does not conform to God’s revealed laws governing sexuality. The account of creation (Gen 1:1-28) includes reproductive activity as an essential part of the developmental scheme. This important function is given special prominence in the narrative describing the creation of woman (Gen 2:21-24). In a process cloaked in mystery, God takes an aspect (Heb. sela, improperly translated “rib” in many versions) of Adam and fashions it into a genetic counterpart that is specifically female, and which matches Adam’s maleness for purposes of reproducing the species. Adam and Eve are thus equal and complementary to one another, of the same physical and genetic composition apart from the slight difference that governs the characteristic nature of male and female fetuses. God tells them to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill all the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1:28).

In normal males, the sex drive is a powerful biological and emotional force that is often difficult to control satisfactorily, particularly when it expresses itself in aggressive terms. But in the early narratives dealing with human family life there are no specific regulations for sexual behavior apart from the statement that Eve’s husband will be the object of her carnal desires (Gen 3:16). As the world’s population grows, so do the human misdemeanors (Gen 6:5-6), which seem to include mixed marriages (Gen 6:2) and possible sexual perversions, although the latter are not mentioned explicitly. At the same time there are certain situations of a sexual nature that are to be avoided by followers of the Lord. The shame associated with the exposure of male genitalia and the penalties that might accrue to observers (Gen 19:22-25) illustrates one form of prohibited sex-related activity. This represents the beginning of later Jewish traditions that held that nakedness was shameful.

In the patriarchal age, homosexuality was a prominent part of Canaanite culture, as the incident involving Lot in Sodom illustrates (Gen 19:1-9). So rampant was sexual perversion in that place that in later times the name of the city became synonymous with homosexual behavior. God’s judgment upon such a perversion of sexuality was to destroy the city and its corrupt inhabitants.

When God entered into a covenant relationship with the Israelites on Mount Sinai (Exod. 24:1-11), his intent was to assemble and foster a select group of human beings who would be obedient to him, worship him as their one and only true God, and live under his direction in community as a priestly kingdom and a holy nation (Exod. 19:6). Holiness demands adherence to certain stringent rules regarding worship and general conduct, but also requires a complete commitment of will and motive to the Lord’s commandments.

Because of the gross promiscuity of surrounding nations, whose behavior the Israelites are warned periodically to avoid, the covenant Lord reveals through Moses a collection of strict regulations that are to govern Israelite sexuality and morality. If these directives are followed, the individual and the community alike can expect blessing. But if the Israelites lapse into the immoral ways of nations such as Egypt and Canaan, they will be punished. God’s keen interest in the sexuality of his chosen people has two objectives: to exhibit Israel to the world as a people fulfilling his standards of holiness, and to ensure that, in the process, they enjoy physical, mental, and moral health.

The pronouncements on sexuality given to Moses while the Israelites are encamped at Mount Sinai occur in two separate places in Leviticus (18:6-23; 20:10-21). It should be remembered that Leviticus (the “Levite” book) comprises a technical priestly manual dealing with regulations governing Israelite worship and the holiness of the covenant community. God had chosen the covenant nation to be an illustration to pagan society of how individuals can become as holy as God through implicit faith in him and continuous obedience to his commandments. By setting out guidelines for the priests to teach to the Israelites, God promulgates explicitly a catalog of what is, and is not, acceptable social, moral, and spiritual behavior. In the distinctions between clean and unclean that occur in various parts of the priestly handbook, the emphasis is on that purity of life that should characterize God’s people. Enactments of this kind are unique in the ancient world, and only serve to demonstrate the seriousness of God’s intent to foster a people that can indeed have spiritual fellowship with their Lord because they reflect his holy and pure nature as they walk in the way of his commandments.

A closer look must now be taken at the regulations governing sexuality. In Leviticus 18:6-23, the matter is approached by the use of denunciations to describe immoral behavior. These fall into two groups, one dealing with carnal associations among people closely related by blood (consanguinity), and the other governing the sexual behavior of persons related through marriage (affinity). Accordingly a man is prohibited from copulating with his mother or any other wife belonging to his father; a sister or half-sister, a daughter-in-law or a granddaughter, an aunt on either side of the family, a woman and her daughter or her son’s daughter or daughter’s daughter, a wife’s sister as a rival wife, a neighbor’s wife, and a woman during the menses. Homosexuality is castigated as reprehensible morally, and bestiality is condemned summarily. Everything forbidden had already led to the moral defilement of the nations surrounding Israel, and for these perversions they are to fall under divine judgment (v. 24).

Homosexuality is described in the Mosaic legislation in terms of a man lying with a man “as one lies with a woman” (Lev. 18:22; 20:13), that is, for purposes of sexual intercourse. The practice originated in humanity’s remote past, and appears to have formed part of Babylonian religious activities. The Canaanites regarded their male and female cultic prostitutes as “holy persons,” meaning that they were dedicated specifically to the service of a god or goddess, not that they were exemplars of moral purity in society. While general condemnations of homosexuality occur in Leviticus, none of the pagan Near Eastern religions thought it either necessary or desirable to enact comparable legislation, since for them such activities were all part of normal religious life in temples or other places of cultic worship.

In general, homosexuality in Mesopotamia is not documented to any extent in surviving tablets, but that it was a widespread problem in the Middle Assyrian period (1300-900b.c.) is indicated by the fact that legislation from that time stipulates that an offender, when caught, should be castrated. This judicial sentence, when compared with the Hebrew prescription of death (Lev 20:13), shows that in Mesopotamian society the offense was regarded as a secondary civic infraction. While homosexuality seems to have been a recognized part of Hittite life, their laws nevertheless prescribe execution for a man who sodomizes his son.

Hebrew tradition, in contrast, is emphatic in condemning homosexuality, even though some Israelites succumbed to it. In Deuteronomy 23:18, male cultic prostitutes, and perhaps homosexuals also, are castigated as “dogs,” which is most probably the significance of the term in Revelation 22:15. Since the dog was generally despised by the Hebrews as an unclean animal, serving much the same scavenging purpose as the vulture (1Kings 22:38), the disparaging nature of the allusion is evident.

Bestiality, defined in terms of a man or woman having sexual relations with an animal (Lev 18:23; 20:15-16), is stigmatized in the Mosaic enactments as a defilement for a man and a sexual perversion for a woman. It appears to have been fairly common in antiquity (Lev 18:24), being indulged in by the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, and Hittites.

The shorter list of prohibited relationships in Leviticus 20:10-21 deals with many of the same offenses, but also prescribes punishments for such violations of Israel’s moral code. Thus a man who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife is to be executed, along with his sexual partner. This is also the penalty for a man who defiles his father’s wife or his daughter-in-law, because such activity constitutes sexual perversion as defined by God’s laws. Homosexuality is once again condemned, and the sexual perverts sentenced to death. The marriage of a man, a woman, and her mother is deemed wicked, and the offenders sentenced to be burned with fire so as to expunge completely the wickedness of the act from the holy community. Bestiality, condemned already as a perversion, is regarded as a capital offense, which includes the animal also.

The marriage of a man with his sister from either side of the family is declared a highly immoral union, and the participants are to be put to death. The same is true of a man and a woman engaging in sexual activity during the woman’s menstrual period. Such blood is considered highly defiling, and a gross violation of the purity that God desires as the norm for Israel’s social behavior. The seriousness with which God assesses his holiness is reflected in the severe penalties prescribed for the infractions listed above. The phrase “their blood will be on their own heads” is a euphemism for capital punishment. Sexual relations between a man and his aunt, or between a man and his brother’s wife, are regarded as dishonoring the legal spouses, and are accorded the lesser sentence of childlessness. In some cases, however, this is tantamount to causing the death of the family, a prospect that few Hebrews could contemplate with equanimity. In Deuteronomy 25:5-10, the law allows a man to marry his deceased brother’s childless wife so as to rear a son for his brother’s family, but this is very different from a man marrying his brother’s wife while her legal husband is still alive.

There are important reasons why these enactments were part of ancient Hebrew law. Moral purity and spiritual dedication were fundamental requisites if the chosen people were to maintain their distinctive witness to God’s power and holiness in society. The prohibitions reinforced the traditional emphasis on family honor, since the family was the building block of society. It had to be maintained at all costs if society was to survive. Any marriage relationship that was too close would have exerted a devastating effect on community solidarity by provoking family feuds that could last for centuries.

Serious problems would also have arisen through inter marriage when the result of such unions was the concentration of lands and riches in the hands of a few Hebrew families. For modern observers, however, the greatest danger by far would have resulted from the pollution of the genetic pool because of inbreeding. The bulk of the relationships prohibited by the legislation involved first and second degrees of consanguinity, that is, parent-child and grandparent-grandchild incest. Coition within the forbidden degrees of family relationships generally results in genetic complications when offspring are produced. Recessive genes often become dominant and endow the fetus with various kinds of diseases or congenital malformations. This seems to have been the force of the Hebrew tebel [l, b, T], a word that occurs only in Leviticus 18:23 and 20:12. It comes from balal [l; l’ B], meaning “to confuse,” and conveys aptly the genetic upheaval that occurs in many cases of inbreeding, since God’s rules for procreation have been upset. Only in a few instances does close inbreeding produce beneficial effects by removing recessive lethal genes from the genetic pool. (This may have happened in the case of ancient Egyptian royalty.) Nevertheless, even in such instances, inbreeding diminishes the energy and vigor of species that are normally outbred, and reinforces the wisdom and authority of the Mosaic legislation.

When God entered into a covenant relationship with the Israelites he furnished them with certain fundamental regulations engraved in stone to symbolize their permanence. These “Ten Commandments,” as they are styled, contain certain injunctions of a moral character dealing with adultery, theft, false witness, and covetous behavior (Exod. 20:14-19).The last three offenses are social in character, involving the community of God to a greater or lesser degree. But the commandment prohibiting adultery deals with an act of a highly personal nature, occurring between normally consenting adults, which violates the “one flesh” character of marriage.

The fact that a commandment deals specifically with this form of behavior seems to indicate that adultery was common among the ancient Hebrews. At all events, adultery was understood as sexual intercourse between a man and another man’s wife or betrothed woman. Similarly, any act of coition between a married woman and a man who was not her husband was also regarded as adultery. Certain exceptions to these stringent rules were tolerated in Old Testament times, however. A man was not considered an adulterer if he engaged in sexual relations with a female slave (Gen 16:1-4), a prostitute (Gen 38:15-18), or his wife’s handmaid with the spouse’s permission (Gen 16:4). Nor was a man deemed to be in an adulterous relationship if he happened to be married to two wives.

The traditions banning adultery, made specific in the Decalog, were enshrined deeply in Israel’s national life. The prophets warn that divine judgment will descend upon those who practice it (Jer. 23:11-14; Ezek. 22:11; Mal 3:5). The Book of Proverbs, however, takes more of a social than a specifically moral view of adultery, ridiculing it as a stupid pattern of behavior that leads a man to self-destruction (6:25-35). The prophets use the term figuratively to describe the covenant people’s lack of fidelity to the high ideals of Mount Sinai. The prophets view the covenant as equivalent to a marriage relationship between God and Israel (Isa 54:5-8). Any breach of the covenant, therefore, is an act of spiritual adultery (Jer. 5:7-8; Ezek. 23:37).

In his teachings Jesus stands firmly in the traditions of the Mosaic law and prophecy by regarding adultery as sin. But he extends the definition to include any man who lust sin his mind after another woman, whether she is married or not. It is thus unnecessary for any physical contact to take place, since the intent is already present (Matt 5:28). By this teaching Jesus demonstrates that, under the new covenant, motivation is to be considered just as seriously as the mechanical act of breaking or keeping a particular law. The motivation of a believer should always be of the purest kind, enabling obedience to God’s will freely from the heart, and not just because the law makes certain demands.

Whereas the female is cast in an inferior, passive role in the Old Testament sexual legislation, Jesus considers the woman as equal to the man in his teachings about divorce and remarriage. In consequence the woman has to bear equal responsibility for adultery. Much discussion has taken place about Christ’s return to the strict marriage ideals of Genesis 2:24 (Mark 10:6) and the explanatory clause “except for marital unfaithfulness” (Matt 5:32; 19:9), which allows for remarriage after divorce and which does not occur in either Mark 10:11 or Luke 16:18.

Before New Testament technical terms are discussed, it is important to realize that Christ was directing his teaching at the new age of grace, which in his death was to render Old Testament legal traditions ineffective. The Mosaic Law was specific about the conditions under which divorce could occur. The wife had fallen into disfavor because her husband had found something unclean or indecent about her, and therefore he was entitled to divorce her. Jesus teaches that this procedure was allowed by God as a concession to human obduracy (Matt 19:8), even though the Creator hated divorce.

In New Testament times, only the man was able to institute divorce proceedings. It was in reality, however, a rare occurrence, and at that mostly the prerogative of the rich, since poor men could not afford another dowry or “bride price” for a subsequent marriage. The accused woman was protected under the law to the extent that her husband’s accusations had to be proved. Thus some scholars have seen the Matthean explanatory clause as indicating immorality as the sole ground for divorce, following the contemporary rabbinical school of Shammai, and not for some purely frivolous cause, as the school of Hillel taught. If this explanation is correct, Jesus was addressing a Jewish controversy that had no bearing on God’s marriage ideals in the age of grace, and which Mark and Luke consequently ignored because the exception did not apply to their audiences of Christian believers.

The most common term in the New Testament for sexual immorality is porneia [porneiva], and its related forms pornos [povrno] and porneuo [porneuvw]. An emphatic form of the verb, ekporneuo [ejkporneuvw], “indulging in sexual immorality, occurs in Jude 7. These words have been translated variously into English, some renderings for an immoral person being “who remonger,” “fornicator,” “loose liver,” and “sexually immoral.” The term pornos [povrno] refers to a man who engages in coition with a porne [povrnh], or female prostitute. The extended description of wanton immorality in Romans 1:24-32 discusses women spurning natural sexual relationships for unnatural ones, that is, indulging in lesbian activities of the kind practiced at Lesbos in pagan Greek religious ceremonies. The males are described as inflamed with lust for one another, and this leads to indecent and immoral behavior. In 1Corinthians, 6:9 the sexually immoral are classified as adulterers, male prostitutes, and homosexual offenders. In 1Timothy 1:10, sexually immoral people are described comprehensively as adulterers and perverts.

The New Testament contains far less teaching about sexual immorality than the Old Testament, on which Christian morals and ethics are based. The Mosaic Law condemned adultery, but placed less emphasis on prohibiting some other sexual offenses. In the end, disregard for the Mosaic enactments brought Israel to ruin and this made it important for the Christian church to distinguish carefully, among other matters, between adultery as a sin and porneia [porneiva], which was a fatal perversion.

The New Testament requires believers to deny physical and spiritual lusting after people and false gods, and to conduct their behavior at a high moral and spiritual level. Sexual activity is to be confined to the marriage relationship, and if a married man or woman has sexual intercourse with someone other than the spouse, that person has committed adultery. To be most satisfying for the Christian, sexual activity must reflect the values of self-sacrificing love and the unity of personality to which the Christian’s reconciliation to God by the atoning work of Jesus brings the believing couple. R. K. Harrison (2)

In closing:

There is no excuse for someone to plead ignorance of the biblical teaching on sex outside of marriage, i.e. fornication.

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)

Notes:

1. W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, (Iowa Falls, Iowa, Riverside Book and Bible House), p. 455.

2. Walter A. Elwell, Editor, Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House), p. 367-371.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: http://www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

For more study:

Counting the Cost of Sexual Immorality by Randy Alcorn https://www.epm.org/…/counting-the-cost-of-sexual-immorality
Paul Washer | 1 Thessalonians 4:1-3 | Abstain from Sexual Immorality | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQPRp2K8LjA

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