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Saturday, January 24, 2015

HOW TITHE-TEACHERS STEAL TITHES


HOW TITHE-TEACHERS STEAL TITHES

by Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

January 25, 2015

 

Gospel ministers who receive the whole tithe and also own property are stealing from God in two ways when they compare themselves to Old Covenant priests.

 

The tithe teachers very often say “If you are not paying your tithes, you are stealing from God. You are wearing stolen clothes, driving stolen cars and are living in stolen houses.”

 

However, the Bible says 12 times (count them) that those who received the first whole tithe were not allowed to own property. The original tithe was in exchange for land ownership in Israel. (Numb 18:20-26; Deut 12:12; 14:27, 29; 18:1, 2; Josh 13:14, 33; 14:3; 18:7; Eze 44:28). Whatever happened to this tithing principle?

 

Numb 18:20 And the LORD spoke unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them [don’t accumulate wealth]: I am thy part [wealth] and thine inheritance among the children of Israel.

 

Only the Levites, the servants to the priests (skinners, guards, singers, musicians, janitors, bakers, builders, etc.) received the first Levitical tithe.

 

Numb 18:21 And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.

 

The priests, the ministers at the altar, only received 1%, a tenth of the tithe. This means that gospel ministers who receive more than 1% of the tithe they preach are stealing from God.

 

Numb 18:26 Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe.

 

This did not mean that Old Covenant Levites and priests must have been full time and could not work other jobs. It only meant that they could not own property inside Israel. In fact it was necessary for them to learn and work other trades in order to build and maintain the sanctuary or temple (Numbers 3; 1 Chronicles 23-26). Most church historians admit that even high priests in Jesus’ time also had and worked other vocations.

 

Therefore, gospel workers who receive “tithes” are stealing from God first, when they receive tithes and also own property and, second, when they receive more than 1%. Even if tithes were New Covenant they would first go to the ordinary workers who assist the preachers and maintain the buildings.

 

Your comments and discussion are welcome.

Friday, January 23, 2015

TONY EVANS' TITHING ERRORS


A Rebuttal of Tony Evans’, No More Excuses, pages 215-231, by Russell Earl Kelly, PHD; January 21. 2015

 

Evans: (216) “God’s will and plan for His people. … God has set up creation to act as a stewardship. Now He’s not going to revamp His eternal plan …”

 

Kelly: Tony Evans lists a Th. M. and Th. D. from Dallas Theological Seminary. Dallas is a pioneer in conservative theology. A key hermeneutic (principle of interpretation) is “To whom is the text addressed?” “His people” before Calvary was clearly national Israel (Ex. 19:5-6). After Calvary God’s “new covenant” was “revamped” to include Gentiles and the Church which were never under the Old Covenant Law.

 

The founders of DTS include Lewis Sperry Chafer and John Walvoord. DTS does not teach tithing. My book, Should the Church Teach Tithing?, quotes from their book to agree with my viewpoint. Tony Evans knows better.

 

Evans: (218) Ps. 24:1 “The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it.” The Bible declares that God owns it all.

 

Kelly: Every tithe-teacher quotes Psalm 24:1! Why? The words “tithe, tithes, tithing” do not occur even once in the Psalms! This text does not somehow magically prove tithing. While it is a true statement, tithes in the Old Testament and during the time Psalm 24:1 was inspired were still only food from inside God’s HOLY land of Israel which He had miraculously increased and they could only come from Hebrews living inside that land. Gold, silver, money and income are never included in 16 texts which describe the contents of the HOLY tithe. Not even Jesus, Peter or Paul qualified as tithe payers; nobody living outside the HOLY land qualified, especially Gentiles. Therefore Psalm 24:1 cannot support tithing of non-food items by Gentiles.

 

Evans: (220) “If you are the Creator and you have created something for a purpose, you have a right to demand that it fulfill your purpose and nothing else. … If God owns everything how does that relate to the concept of tithing?”

 

Kelly: Evans never mentions the biblical purpose for the tithe found in Numbers 18 and Deuteronomy. He replaces God’s stated purpose with his own opinion.

 

According to Numbers 18 (the exact wording of the tithing statute/ordinance) the purpose of the first Levitical tithe was to reimburse the Levites for their (part time) service in the sanctuary/temple in exchange for their loss of land inheritance inside Israel. This real purpose is almost totally ignored by gospel preachers who also own property. “Part time” refers to the many professions and trades of both Levites and priests found in 1 Chronicles 23 to 26; they served the king and the LORD often as government employees. See my chapter on Kings, Tithes and Taxes from Should the Church Teach Tithing?

 

The total tithe was actually around 23%. Tithe-advocates like Tony Evans dare not point out this fact as it would be awkward asking for 23%. A second tithe of 10% was required to feed the masses at the seasonal feasts. A third tithe of 10% every third year was kept in the towns to feed the poor and Levites (who were expected to be among the poor). See my chapter, How Many Tithes? (www.tithing-russkelly.com).

 

Evans’ most fundamental error is in failing to define the biblical HOLY tithe as the word is used by Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi and Jesus in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42.  There is no biblical authority to define the holy tithe as income from Gentiles and the Church.

 

The Bible does not tell us why uncircumcised Abram gave a tithe from spoils of war to Melchizedek in Genesis 14. It neither says he was commanded to do so nor does it record that he freely chose to do so. Yet tithe-teachers usually assign one of these two reasons. Abram was most likely merely obeying the common demonstrable tradition of giving his local king-priest a tithe from the spoils of war. On the other hand, Jacob’s tithe was a freewill vow. Both were from defiled pagan sources; neither would qualify as a holy tithe under the law or by Malachi or Jesus.

 

The HOLY tithe (as the word is used by Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi, Matthew and Luke) was always only food from inside God’s HOLY land of Israel. It could not come from non-Hebrews. It could not come from non-food sources. It could not come from outside Israel. It could not come from what man made; it must come from the miraculous hand of God. There are 16 verses which validate this claim. Even Malachi 3:10 and Jesus in Matthew 23:23 still limit it to food.

 

Evans and all other tithe-teachers simply will not be honest and define the HOLY tithe according to God’s Word. They say that food was barter and used as money. In doing so, they fail to perform a simple word search in an exhaustive concordance such as Strong’s. The words “money, silver, gold” are common and required for temple worship but are never included in any description of the tithe or firstfruits. Check it out for yourself.

 

Evans: (220) God established the tithe with Israel in the Old Testament.

 

Kelly: Yes, yes, yes – and only with Israel in the Old Testament. Even then He severely limited it to food producers who lived inside His HOLY land. The tithe never did apply to occupations and trades beyond food production. The tithe was never used to build mission stations and proselytize Gentiles (so there is no precedent there). O. T. Gentiles could not tithe. Jesus, Peter and Paul could not tithe. Not even crops grown outside Israel by Hebrews could be tithed.

 

Evans: He told the people that he wanted the first ten per cent of everything they produced, whether the crops in the fields or the animals born to the flocks and herds (see Lev. 27:30-33).

 

Kelly: Evans omits Leviticus 2:34 which limits the instructions to national Israel.

 

Evans uses Leviticus 27:30-33 to prove that the tithe was to be given first when the text limits the tithe to the tenth! Incredible! Any casual reading of the texts makes it clear that the tithe was the last tenth. Plus the texts do not include money, gold, silver or income among tithed items.

 

Evans: Now the tithe was not designed to allow the Israelites to say “O.K. God here’s your ten percent. No, the tithe was a way of saying “God, this tithe is my way of saying that you own it all and gave it all to me. I realize that the 90% is yours too.”

 

Kelly: These are nice sounding words heard very often but they are not biblical and they ignore the real purpose of the three tithes as previously discussed. It is dishonest to teach on tithing and totally ignore Numbers 18. Again, “God owned it all” in the Old Testament times also, but only allowed the holy tithe to come from what He had miraculously increased from inside His holy land.

 

Evans: (221) The tithe was also to be given first, to remind the Israelites that God would meet their needs if they honored him.

 

Kelly: This is a lie; it has no validation from God’s Word. The tithe is not the same as the firstfruits! The firstfruits was a very small token offering which could be carried in a small basket; it was a handful of grapes or olives; it was several apples or a handful of grain; it was not the tenth of the total harvest which could only be counted after the harvest was finished. Think straight; look us “firstfruits” in a concordance.

 

Evans: This is a view of stewardship most of us aren’t used to.

 

Kelly: It is unbiblical to use the principle of God’s ownership to teach that believers must give the first tenth of their income to the church.

 

Evans: The Israelites of Malachi’s day dishonored the Lord by giving Him the worst of their flock for sacrifice (Mal. 1:7-8). The people would …. (1:9)

 

Kelly: Stop what you are doing for a moment, pick up a Bible for yourself, and open to Malachi, chapter one. It begins with an address to Israel in 1:1. At 1:6 the writer/speaker begins addressing “you,” the priests. From 1:6 to the remainder of Malachi, the word “you” refers to priests and not to the people of Judah as a whole.

 

Evans has skipped Malachi 1:6 and begins at 1:7. This is dishonest because he changes the focus from dishonest priests to the people. It is the dishonest priests who have taken the worst (of the best tenth, Num. 18:25-28) from their flocks (Num. 35; Josh. 21)

 

Evans: (222) Look how seriously God took this insult, “O that one of you would shut the temple doors that you would not light useless fires on my altar. I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands” (Mal. 1:10).

 

Kelly: Anybody who honestly reads the Bible in context will realize that Malachi 1:10 is still speaking to the priests (the “you”) from 1:6.  Even more so, the text itself (1:10) limits the context to only priests who are responsible for “shutting the doors” to the Temple and for “lighting fires at the altar.” This is not a condemnation of the people for not tithing. Rather, it is a condemnation of dishonest priests for substituting unqualified sacrificial animals.

 

Evans: God says shut the temple, close down the church if that is all we are going to give him.

 

Kelly: The New Covenant Church is never called a “storehouse” in the Bible. In fact, church buildings were illegal until after A.D. 313.

 

Evans: He wants to be first in everything.

 

Kelly: Evans again uses the magic trick of equating tithes with firstfruits. In the Old Covenant neither were non-food items; neither could come from outside Israel; neither could come from non-food-producing occupations. Sacrificial freewill offerings is another thing though.

 

Evans: When we give God lesser any

priority in our lives, we are relegating the Owner to the demeaning position below that of his steward of manager.

 

Kelly: Sounds good, but this is not biblical. Consider 1 Timothy 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” Modern tithe-teachers want the tithe first. They want the poor and needy to buy their medicine, food, shelter and other necessities after the tithe is paid.

 

Paul said to take care of one’s own essential family needs first! Yet many sincere “tithe-payers” are cutting pulls in half and doing without proper food and shelter for their family in order to avoid an Old Covenant curse for Israel and escape their preacher’s wrath.

 

Evans: (God) would not be satisfied with your leftover time, energy and skills.

 

Kelly:  If there is nothing “leftover” after buying essential medicine, food and shelter, God will not be angry. Evans has placed his own words into God’s mouth.

 

Evans: That’s the principle of priority we need to understand.

 

Kelly: Evans’ “principle of priority” is based on two false assumptions: (1) that Psalms 24:1 includes tithes from non-food increase outside of Israel from Gentiles and (2) that firstfruits and tithes are the same thing.

……………………………………………………………

Having completed Evans’ arguments, let us look at a few facts.

(1) Evans failed to define the holy tithe as the word is used by Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi and Jesus.

(2) Evans fails to point out that those being cursed in Malachi 1:11-14 and 2:1 were clearly the priests and not the people.

(3) Evans fails to follow the pronoun “you” from 1:6. The priests’ question of 2:17 is answered in 3:1-5 as God’s promise to purify the priesthood. “This whole nation” of 3:8-10 only makes sense when understood as “this whole nation “of you priests” –every priest in the nation. In Nehemiah 13:5-10 the priests had removed the tithes from the small storeroom and forced the Levites to return to their cities for food. Also see Neh. 10:35-38.

(4) It makes no sense to teach that the temple in Jerusalem held the whole tithe of the whole nation.

a) It was too small (compare 1 Kings 6:6);

b) priests would have to travel to the temple every time they wanted food; c) there were no large storerooms for tithes in Solomon’s temple and a crisis was created in Second Chronicles 31:1-5. The crisis ended when most of the tithes were re-distributed back to the Levitical cities where they belonged. Again read Nehemiah 10:37b-38.

(5) It is absurd to imply that God owes believers “overflowing blessings” simply because they tithed. The O.T. Law was to be obeyed wholly and perfectly before blessings were dispensed (Gal 3:10; Deut 27:26). God did not bless tithe-payers who broke the law in other areas.

(6) The principle and doctrine of the priesthood of every believer abolishes tithing because every N.T. believer is a priest before God (1 Pet 2:9-10: Rev 5:10).

 

Mr. Evans, I invite you to enter an open dialog on this subject. It is far too important to ignore.

 

In Christ’s love

Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

316 Aonia Rd

Washington, Ga 30673


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Dialog with an SDA Scholar on the Law (3)


Dialog with an SDA Scholar on the Law (3)

 

Andreas: What is the New Covenant?

 

Russ: The New Covenant is described in Jeremiah 31: 31-34 and repeated in Hebrews 8:8-13. Jeremiah 31 also includes 31:35-37.

(1) It is “a better covenant established upon better promises” (Heb 8:6). It is not the Old Covenant reworded.

(2) Again, it is “the second” covenant and not the first reworded” (Heb 8:7).

(3) Like the first covenant, it is primarily made with the “house of Israel” and the “house of Judah” (Heb 8:8). It was not made primarily with the Gentiles but they were later included when Israel rejected its Messiah and the Gentile dogs ate the crumbs which fell from their table. How do you explain this text?

(4) The new covenant is “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt” (Heb 8:9). Again we are told that even the new covenant was primarily for Israel but it was DIFFERENT from the first as we discover that Gentiles have much more access to it.

(5) For the third time, it is “with the house of Israel” (Heb 8:10a).

(6)  God will place His new covenant “laws into their mind and write them in their hearts” (Heb 8:10b). In essence this is a full manifestation or revelation of God’s will as opposed to the law written on stones (2 Cor 3:1-18).

(7) Like God’s original plan for Israel in Exodus 19:5-6, there will be a priesthood of every believer – no hierarchy of priests and no need for laws to support priests (Heb 8:11).  “And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.”

(8) The moment one accepts Christ as his/her personal Savior, he/she is eternally saved and adopted into the household of God. The guilt of every sin which separated from a relationship with God is gone  -- God cannot remember them (Heb 8:12). SDAs have a serious problem with 8:12.

(9) The Old Covenant ended (8:13).

(10) The New Covenant and Israel will both survive as a nation as long as there are stars in the sky (Jer 31:35-37). This must not be in your Bible because you totally ignore it.

 

Andreas: And till when was it in effect?

 

Russ: Earth and time as we know it will survive until Revelation 21 after the 1000 year reign of Messiah on Earth.

 

Andreas: What does it mean to be under the New Covenant?

 

Russ: Its principles will guide the lives of believers as they are indwelt, guided and taught by the Holy Spirit. They will know God’s will.

 

Andreas: No rules, no commands?

 

Russ: Plenty of rules and commands – all written in the heart by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

 

Andreas: Sermon on the Mount "rules" - which were also said BEFORE Calvary, hence not for Gentiles?

 

Russ: Only those which were repeated to the Church after Calvary in terms of the New Covenant apply. What is your hermeneutic? What principle do you apply to bring material over from the Old to the New Covenant?

 

Andreas: You also see that the law will be written in our hearts. My question, what law did the writer refer to?

 

Russ: How do you answer your question? You discard most of the judgments and ordinances and then throw Mt 5:18-19 at me which you ignore.

Which parts of WWII Nazi law have been repeated in Austria’s present constitution? Does that mean Nazi Law still exists? Of course not.

Andreas:
My point of view is the following: Everything that was a shadow of Christ, e.g., the feasts, sacrifices, is not valid anymore (Colossians 2,16). It's that simple. Therefore food laws still exist.

 

Russ: What about killing your children and killing Sabbath breakers? Were these shadows of Christ? Do you destroy houses with mild? Do yo make your wife eat dirt from the sanctuary to prove she is pure? Do you pay tithes to deacons, choir and musicians as they did in the Bible? Do you give a third tithe to the poor? Do you cause others to work on the Sabbath? // How does your principle explain Mt 5:18-19? Colossians 2:16 is not the only text in the Bible! Read Exodus 21 through Deuteronomy and you will discover how very weak your answer is: literally hundreds would still exist that was not a shadow of Christ!

Andreas: Mt 28:9+35 does not contain "fulfilled". It is found in chapter 27.


Russ: O.K. So I made a typo, but you missed the point – Jesus totally fulfilled the righteousness of the Old Covenant Law with Israel. Where do you get the idea that God included the Gentiles in that Law?


Andreas: Mt 24,20  If the Sabbath is not valid anymore, why does Jesus ask them to pray this way?

 

Russ: Matthew 24 takes place in the future Great Tribulation when the Antichrist will break his 7 year covenant with Israel. It is Daniel 9’s 70 week in which returning Jews who are not Christians will place themselves once again under Law contrary to the will of God.

Russ: At no time did God command Israel to proselytize Gentiles.

Andreas: What purpose then did the Jews have? Are you saying that Gentiles were never really meant to be saved?


Russ: If Israel had obeyed God and accepted its Messiah, it would have been so blessed that Gentiles would flow into Jerusalem and be saved. It will still happen as the last literal unconditional chapters of Zechariah are yet unfulfilled.

 

Andreas: In Acts we read several times that Paul went to the synagogues/temples to teach the people on a Sabbath. Why?

 

Russ: As a Jewish man, and, especially as a Jewish rabbi, Paul had an open pulpit in the synagogues until they cast him out. It would have been foolish not to take advantage of an open pulpit.

       However after being cast out of the synagogues Pau eventually taught the Gentiles on days other than Saturday. This is covered in detail in my book.


Andreas: (Concerning your BEFORE / AFTER Calvary hermeneutic) For example, the words Jesus said at the sermon on the Mount in Mt 5 are not applied to Gentiles, but to Jews. But, AFTER Calvary, they are also not applied to Jews anymore in case they are not mentioned AFTER Calvary.

 

Russ: Blessing are generic and is not a command. Much of what Jesus taught was generic and not covenant-related. How do you explain all the events in which Jesus commanded Temple worship. He even commanded Samaritan lepers to show themselves to the (Samaritan) priests. Jesus would have sinned if he had taught contrary to any part of the whole Law. Jesus could not possibly have taught his Jewish or Gentile disciples to tithe either to himself or to his apostles.
……………………………………………

Enough said about the law.

Now, let’s get to the real difference between SDAs and the remainder of the Christian world – the Investigative Judgment

 

How does Daniel 8:14 answer the question asked in 8:13 in the context of 8:8-12?

 

What “defiled” the Most Holy Place in the heavenly sanctuary:

the deeds of the little horn?

Or

the confessed and forgiven sins of God’s saints?

 

What gives you the right to change to question from “How long before the sanctuary will stop being defiled?

To

When will its cleansing begin?

 

The temple in 8:8-13 and chapter 9 is the one on earth. What gives you the right to change it

To

The one in heaven?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dialog with an SDA Scholar on the Law (2nd)


Dialog with an SDA Scholar on the Law (2nd edited to remove duplication) 9-12-2014

 



Me, Dr. Andreas Starzacher

Your opinion 2 Some comments and questions to your last email: Russ: Matt 15:4 “For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother (Ex 20:12) AND, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death” (E

Sep 6

new messages!

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:
Russ: Matt 15:4 “For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother (Ex 20:12) AND,
He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death” (Exodus 21:15).

Andreas: Actually 4b is found in Exodus 21:17.

Russ: Is that all you have to say. Many of the judgments were the PENALTIES for presumptuously violating the moral laws. Have you ever read Exodus through Deuteronomy?; have you ever read “the Law”?  A law does not exist without the PENALTY for violating it. Do you kill your children who hit or curse you? Of course not! Because the whole law ended as a covenant – including the penalty part of it beginning in Exodus 21.

 

Andreas: I agree, but, however, Jesus paid it all, so he freed us NOT from the law, but
from the curse of the law (meaning death penalty), as found in Galatians 3,13.

 

Russ: You say that the penalty for violating the law has ended but the whole law still exists. That makes no sense.

The law also commanded women to stay outside the camp while in menstruation. Did Calvary end that? The Law also commanded killing Sabbath-breakers. Did Calvary end that?

 

Russ: According to the amount of sacrificial animals required, the 7th day Sabbath was the LEAST important Sabbath day.

Andreas: I did not get it, can you please explain that in more details why you think in that way?

 

Russ: This is proof that you have not read the law you protect so hard. Read my free online book, chapter 20, Greater and Lesser Sabbaths (www.tithing-russkelly.com/sda).

 

Russ: Matthew 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments …” 

Andreas: … Jesus did not abolish the whole law, indeed. But, however, Jesus made such things as sacrifices obsolete …


Russ: Matthew 5:18 says “not one jot or tittle (dot or stroke).” Yet you just said that he “made such things as sacrifices obsolete.” That, my friend, is a contradiction. Again in Matt 5:19 Jesus said “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” This also goes strongly against your “Jesus made such things as sacrifice obsolete.”

You want it both ways. You quote Mt 5:18-19 to me to prove that the whole law is still in effect and then ignore the plain clear fact that those 2 verses condemn your interpretation. Either the whole Old Covenant law of commandments, judgments and ordinances is still in full force, or else none of it is. Make up your mind.

 

Andreas: At least those (commandments) mentioned in Matthew 5:20-48 are still valid, in my opinion, at the same level as the 10 commandments.

 

Russ: Including 5:23-24???

Since Jesus’ righteousness is at least equal to that required by Law (Mt 5:20) Jesus was then already CHANGING “dots and tittles” in the Law He gave. He upgrades “murder” to “hate”; He upgraded “adultery” to “lust”; He ended “eye for an eye” with “forgiveness”; He upgrades “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18) to the highest level of commandments.

Andreas: Jesus fulfilled the law perfectly. But that does not imply that the law is therefore obsolete.

 

Russ: The Old Covenant Law is obsolete; the New Covenant “law of the Spirit of life in Christ” has replaced it (Rom 8:3).

Remember you just said “Jesus made such things as sacrifices obsolete …” If He made sacrifices obsolete, then He made the whole Law obsolete as required in a literal understanding of Matthew 5:18-19.

 

Andreas: But, wouldn't you say that love neighbor is not obsolete? Jesus mentioned that one of the highest commandments is love your neighbor?

 

Russ: “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is repeated in the New Covenant after Calvary; therefore it still applies, not as  the Old but as part of the New law.

My hermeneutic is: “If it is repeated in the New Covenant after Calvary, it applies in terms of grace and faith.” – like the U.S. Constitution replacing British Law.

On the other hand, SDAs have no consistent principle to apply when bringing things over from the Old into the New Covenant.

 

Andreas: Hence, Jesus redeemed us from the law in that sense that he paid the price for our transgressions.

 

Russ: That logic leaves the whole law intact -- all 600-plus commandments, judgments and ordinances – including the commands to sacrifice and the entire book of Leviticus. Do you observe the 7 festivals? Do you forbid mixed marriages? Do you cause anybody to work on the Sabbath?

 

Andreas: Important: what is "sin"? Sin is lawlessness (or transgression of the law) [1 John 3:4].

 

Russ:

(1) Which law? The law of nature? The law of conscience? The Law of Moses? The Law of Grace? The Law of Christ? Did you know this is the only use of “law” in First John? Except for the KJV, other versions read “lawlessness.”

(2) If you use I John 3:4 to refer to the Ten Commandments and Sabbath, then you are legitimizing slave ownership and condemning yourself for causing others to work on the Sabbath.

(3) If you use I Jn 3:4 to refer to the entire law of commandments, judgments and ordinances, then you condemn yourself for discarding most of the judgments and ordinances and violate your own “not one jot or tittle” argument from Mt 5:18 and “the least of these commandments” argument from Mt 5:19.

(4) If you say that “commandments” only refers to the Ten Commandments, then you ignore I John 3:23, 24, 4:1 and 5:2. In First John “keeping the commandments” refers almost exclusively to “loving God” and “loving others.” This is the “new/old” commandment of John 13:34; 1 John 2:7, 8 and 2 John 5.

(5) The definition of “law” has changed from a) natural law and conscience to b) the codified Law of Moses to c) the law of Grace/Christ which that which is eternal and moral from the Old Covenant has been repeated in the New Covenant in terms of grace and faith.

(6) This is my chief argument with your theology. You will not or cannot consistently define either “law” or “commandments” and that is why you will not and cannot consistently define “sin.”

(7) Rom 5:13 “(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

a) Until the formal codified law

b) Sin was in the world because of the law of nature and conscience

c) Imputed refers to accountability

(8) Romans 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.”Death reigned because the law of nature and conscience still existed to condemn mankind

Andreas: Same as in James 2:10, if there is no law, why mention this comparison?


James 2:9 “But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.”

James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

James 2:11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

James 2:12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.”

Russ: Must you quote every text out of context?

(1) James 2:1-9 is a discussion of respecting persons, not the Ten Commandments.

(2) While the Ten Commandments do not call having respect of persons a sin, 2:9 adds yet another commandment.

(3) You dare to quote 2:10 and then dare to teach that the “whole law” does not include most of the judgments and ordinances.

(4) Important. The purpose of James 2:9-10 is to demonstrate the futility of pleasing God by good works.

(5) The answer to the dilemma of James 2:8-10 is found in 2:11. The “royal law” is neither the Law of Moses nor the Ten Commandments. The “royal law” is superior to regular law. In order to obey the “royal law” of “not respecting others,” one must obey the whole law of love. For example, one can kill without committing adultery or steal without killing – but one who respects another cannot kill, steal or commit adultery. Therefore, “not respecting others” is “royal” compared to “thou shalt not kill, steal, and commit adultery ”or“ dis-honoring parents.”

 

Andreas: Jesus was the foreseen Messiah and fulfilled a lot of commandments.

 

Russ: Yes, but the text says that “not one dot or dash of the whole law will pass away until all be fulfilled” (Mt 5:18). Therefore your answer is inadequate, lacking and wrong. Either we are still under ALL of the Law (as the Old Covenant) or NONE of it. Again, my consistent hermeneutic is: “Only that which is repeated to the Church after Calvary in terms of the New Covenant applies today.” You lack a consistent principle for applying the Old Covenant Laws to the New Covenant. That is why your doctrines of tithing and Sabbath-keeping are wrong.

 

Andreas: Concerning judgments: what do you particularly mean?

 

Russ: That part of the Law which judges decided is generally called judgments, beginning in Exodus 21. They were civil as opposed to cultic ceremonial worship laws in which the priests managed. Priests only dealt with sins of omission and accident. Judges dealt with willful, presumptuous, high-handed, deliberate sins.

 

Andreas: In general, I agree with Romans 6:23. The wages of sin is death. This is still valid.

 

Russ: Of course it is. The primary definition of sin has not changed, but the definition of “law” has changed. Have you not studied Romans 5:11-21? Many died before the formal codified law was enacted through Moses.

How do you explain John 16:8-9? The definition of sin has changed drastically from nature’s law to Moses’ law to Christ’s law.

 

Andreas: Concerning ordinances: Here the question is (I) "why I teach that Jesus abolished e.g., the feasts". This was a shadow (Colossians 2:16-17) and
(ii) "why I teach that Jesus abolished the purity laws", but not the "food laws". To be honest, I cannot answer this.

 

Russ: Again, my concern is that you are taking apart the Law one piece at a time contrary to Matthew 5:18-19. At least I can re-instate many of those good laws because they are repeated after Calvary as part of the New Covenant (i.e. British to U.S. Law).

 

Andreas: Galatians 3:19: concerning "the law was added [had a beginning]" Sure it has a beginning. But this beginning must not be at Exodus 20.

 

Russ: Why not? You are confusing the eternal law of nature and conscience for all mankind with the temporary Law of Moses only for Old Covenant Israel (Ex 19:5-6).


Andreas: The word "till" is quite interesting and I need to think about it carefully. Cannot give you any answer on that issue.

 

Russ: Again, English Law, all of it, GOOD AND BAD, ended on July 4th, 1776 when my representatives signed the Declaration of Independence.

Andreas: Mt 5:17-18

 

Russ: You are rightly puzzled by Matthew 5:17-18 because you do not want to let go of the Old Covenant Law which never did apply to Gentiles or the whole earth. It was their unique covenant Ex 19:5-6). They were the only nation God redeemed from bondage in Egypt (Ex 20;
Deuteronomy 5 preambles to the Ten Commandments). Referring to Jesus fulfilling prophecy, Matthew alone contains the word “fulfilled” 14 times: 1:22; 2:15, 17, 23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:14, 35; 21:4; 26:54, 56; 28:9, 35. Jesus fulfilled the righteous requirements  of the Law.

 

Andreas: Jesus' words "it is finished" or after the new Jerusalem will reside on the new earth? I have no definite answer to that.


Russ: The ripping of the Temple veil signaled that the Old Covenant had ended and that all believers could view the Most Holy Place as believer-priests.  The New Covenant Law of God’s will written in the hearts by the Holy Spirit had begun (Heb 8:8-13).

Andreas: Galatians 3:24.
Well, our schoolmaster was the law. When? Does this apply also to Gentiles?

 

Russ: Paul was speaking as a Hebrew from the Hebrew point of view. In Romans he changes his address from “we” to “they” often.

       In meeting the righteous requirements of the formal codified Law to save Hebrews, Jesus also met the requirements of the law of nature and conscience to save Gentiles.

 

Andreas: Or do I have to be first under the law, then, sometime later, I will be brought to Jesus? This is absurd.

 

Russ: You have to first be convicted of sin by the Holy
Spirit either through nature and conscience, or through the Law of Moses as a Hebrew, or through th Law of Christ.

       The absurd thing is that you want to place Gentiles under the Old Covenant law and condemn them as lawbreakers and completely ignore Romans 2:14-16 which you admit you do not understand.
a)    Romans 1:16-18 says that both Jews and Gentiles deserve the wrath of God.

b) Gentiles deserve the wrath of God because they have sinned against revealed truth of nature and conscience (1:19 to 2:26).

c) Hebrews deserve the wrath of God because they have sinned against the direct revelation of the Old Covenant Law.

d) Romans 3 quotes Isaiah and Psalms and concludes that both Jess and Gentiles are guilty before God as lawbreakers (3:19-20).

 

Andreas: Gal 3:25 implies that we once were under a schoolmaster. Consequently, this means that also Gentiles were under the law? Or is Paul speaking to Jews?

 

Russ: Again, to Jews per 4:4-5. At no time did God command Israel to proselytize Gentiles.

(3) May I clarify your statement to read: “Jesus Christ has not come to redeem us from the whole law, but only from the "curse of the whole law". Now do you see your error?
You would have us believe that the law forbidding leaving a person handing on a tree is still in effect and still defiles the land. Is that correct?


Andreas:
(3) To be consistent, yes that would be the case. Does anyone say that this is not true anymore? Why is such a thing a "sin" in God's eye "yesterday", but not "today" anymore?

Russ: In order to be consistent you would have to incorporate hundreds of other judgment-laws into your everyday life.  For example, women would have to stay out of town while on menstrual periods; houses with mildew would be destroyed and children who strike or curse parents would be killed.

Russ: (Concerning Matthew 5)
(1) The commands in Mathew 5 are before Calvary.

Andreas:
(1) Do you mean that everything Jesus said BEFORE Calvary is not "valid" for Gentiles?

 

Russ: No. The commands Jesus gave before Calvary in their Old Covenant context do not apply unless repeated after Calvary in terms of the New Covenant. That is how the U.S. treated English Law after our rebellion.


Andreas: Is adultery ok now? Or why should I not commit it? (Because Paul told the Corinthians?)

 

Russ: Of course not.

a) adultery is wrong because nature and conscience tell us it is wrong.

b) it is wrong because the sin of adultery is repeated after Calvary in the New Covenant.

c) it is wrong because the “Thou shalt not commit adultery” has been re-written in the hearts of New Covenant/new creation as “You will not commit adultery” (Heb 8:10-11). The New Covenant is not the Old Covenant re-stated. Rather it is “Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers” (Heb 8:9).

d) In Galatians 5:19 adultery is called a “work of the flesh.”

Andreas: Well, what about the signs "people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus" (Rev. 14:12)? What commands are meant here?


Russ:

a) I know your theology; I was an SDA pastor. SDAs teach that the 144,000 of Revelation 14:12 have become sinlessly perfect and can stand before God without a mediator.

b) Again you need a set of consistent hermeneutics (principles of interpretation). The first must be “to whom is the text speaking.”

c) Revelation 14:12 is speaking to and about 144,000 Hebrews of the last days (from chapter 7)). They are sealed and kept from harm during the Great Tribulation.

d) They obey what Jesus taught in the New Covenant; they have kept His commands/commandments.

e) This is not a description of the SDA church.

Andreas: Are there many plans of salvation?

 

Russ:

a) There is one plan of salvation -- by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ as one’s personal Lord and Savior.

b) Although most pre-Calvary man never hears the name of Jesus, they saw His righteousness by faith.

c) God is not a respecter of persons (Romans 2 all). He judges each person in the context of his/her knowledge and covenant.

Andreas: If we are no longer under the schoolmaster, we, however, needed to have been under it (even Gentiles?). Otherwise we cannot be "no longer under it".


Russ:

(1) As I said before, “we” is Paul speaking as a Hebrew.

(2) You sequence is illogical. If Gentiles were ever under any part of the Old Covenant Law, then they would have been under all of it. Nowhere, absolutely nowhere does the Bible say that God commanded the Gentiles to keep the Old Covenant Law, the Sabbath or tithing, etc.

(3) Gentiles have gone from being under the law/principle of nature and conscience TO being under “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:3).

 

Andreas: Rom 1:20.How can a person know that there is a Father, a Son, a Holy Spirit (Godhead) purely from creation?


Russ: Common sense says there is a godhead. God is love and love cannot exist by itself. I cannot fully answer your question, but I could never worship a twinkle in the sky or an idol I know was carved.

 

Andreas: It is mentioned that the Sabbath is a sign between God and Israel. But, why is there a connection to the creation, i.e., 7th Day God rested ...?


Russ: Read Creation Sabbath in my SDA book. The first Creation Sabbath was not bordered by an “evening and a morning”; the perfect sinless rest of the first Sabbath lasted until sin entered. We do not know how long that was. Adam did not begin to die until he sinned.

On which day of the week did Adam sin? We do not know. Therefore God had to re-introduce the specific day of the week in Exodus 16 only to Israel! – at least 2500 years later.

The second giving of the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5 does not connect it to creation at all.

The Christian rests in the perfect sinless righteousness of Christ by faith (Heb 4:3). That is good enough for me. There are no holy days commanded in the New Covenant.


Andreas: Jesus said "keep MY commands". Are "his commands" the same as the commandments in the Law and the Prophets?

 

Russ:

(1) Jesus’ commands to Adam through Moses were not in the Law and Prophets. They were found in nature, conscience and direct revelation.

(2) Jesus’ commands from Moses to Jesus FOR OLD COVENANT ISRAEL were found in the Old Covenant Law.

(3) Jesus’ commands to Gentiles from sinful Adam to Jesus were found only in nature and conscience (Romans 1:18 to 2:16.

(4) Jesus’ commands to the post-Calvary Church are found in His Words which were REPEATED after Calvary to the Church in the context of the New Covenant.


Andreas: Rom 13:8-10
After reading the text again, I noticed that not only the commandments (listed from the 10 commandments) are summarized by "Love your neighbor", but also in the previous verses Paul lists several "commandments" (what to do), e.g., pay taxes, not owe. Thus, the term "law" in verse 10 does not necessarily refer to the listed commandments of verse 9, but also of verse 7 and 8.

 

Russ: Good observation. You have added to my knowledge.

 

Andreas: But, again, I come into troubles. If "do not murder" is not valid (even thinking badly of another is enough of being guilty of murderer), then to murder is not a problem in God's eyes? Because this command is given by Jesus BEFORE Calvary, isn't it?


Russ: You are still confused about the three uses of “law.”

(1) To the pagan Gentile in deepest Mongolia, Africa or South America – “it is sin to kill/murder.” Why? Because the LAW of nature and conscience convicts him/her (Romans 1:16 to 2:16).

(2) To the Old Covenant Hebrew “It is sin to kill/murder.” Why? Because the Old Covenant Law convicts him/her (Rom 2:17-28; Exodus 20 to Deuteronomy to Malachi). The Old Covenant Law against murder ORIGINATED in the Law of nature and conscience.

(3) To the Christian “It is sin to kill/murder.” Why? Because God has written His will in the hearts of believers by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Heb 8:8-13). The REVEALTED WILL OF GOD – i.e. “law” principle – has moved from nature and conscience TO the Old Covenant  TO the New Covenant.

 

Andreas: Paul said in Romans 7:7 that he would not have known coveting as sin, if the law had not said so.

 

Russ: As you know theologians argue over the context of Romans 7.

(1) Is it before or after Paul was saved”?

(2) Does it reflect a time in Paul’s life in which he also was struggling with the concept of law? After all, look at his conclusion in 8:1-3.

(3) Why did Paul say that he was “dead to the law” in 7:4? Can law tell a dead person what to do?

(4) Is not “law” beyond 7:7 merely a “principle”?

(5) In my opinion, since “thou shalt not covet” is repeated to the Church after Calvary in the New Covenant era, then it has been brought over into the New Covenant “law of Christ”.

       (5) If all of the TC still Exists merely because Paul quoted 5 in Romans 13:9, then do all of the worship ordinances/statutes also exist because Paul also
quoted from Leviticus 19:18 “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”?


Andreas: that's a good point


Russ:
(6) Perhaps the best reason Paul quoted the second half of the Ten Commandments in Romans 13:9 is because he was using them in the strictly New Covenant sense as something eternal which should be repeated after Calvary in terms of grace and faith.

Andreas: yes, but also the 4th commandment must be viewed in a grace and faith perspective

 

Russ: Why? The Sabbath was never commanded to either Gentiles or to the Church after Calvary.

 

Andreas: By the way, what is your answer to John 8:51? What is Jesus' word? Before/After Calvary?

Russ: Have you read all of chapter 8? His “word” was what he was teaching. Sometimes it must be interpreted according to the Old Covenant context before Calvary (but not here).

 

Andreas: If there were no law, then sin could not exist (Romans 7:19 and similar verses).

 

Russ: If there were no Old Covenant Law Paul would not have been convicted by it –but-- that does not  mean the law of nature and conscience did not exist to convict him of the same sin (Rom 5:12-21; 1:18 to 2:16).

(3) The formal codified written law was “added” to the law of nature and conscience “until” the Messiah would fulfill it (Gal 3:19, 24-26; Heb 7:18).

Andreas:(3) True, but, actually, what sense does it make to add a law and after the Messiah has come (died and resurrected) it is again nullified?

 

Russ: ??? You confuse me here. The Old Covenant Law was added to the law of nature and conscience for Hebrews only. The New Covenant law replaced Old Covenant law for everybody.

 

Andreas:  1 John 3:4
(4) You said that "law" refers here to New Covenant terms as a "principle", in (4) you say it refers to everything God had revealed through the entire Old Testament. What is true?

 

Russ: Both. When applied to Jews before Calvary, it referred to everything in the Old Testament. Compare Romans 3:1-20).

Russ: Concerning Mark 2:27:
(4) In One who met the righteousness requirements of the formal Law (and the law of nature and conscience), Jesus was qualified to redeem both Israel (Rom 3:19) and Gentiles (Rom 3:20; check the lack of the definite article in 3:20).

Andreas: Romans 3:20 tells me … without law I cannot become conscious of sin as this verse implies.

Russ: “Without law as a principle.” From Adam to Moses sinners were aware that they had sinned against the principles of nature and conscience and even human government laws. A law principle – not necessarily the Law you refer to. The new law principle is seen in Romans 8:3.
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Dr. Andreas Starzacher
Margeritenstra├če 12 / D1
9500 Villach