Tag Archives: New Covenant

ON KEEPING THE SABBATH

There are some believers, and these are not just Seventh Day Adventists, laying on others an obligation to keep a Saturday Sabbath.

This is to forget or ignore the apostle Paul, who was firm about any kind of regression into Moses or any enslaving religion: “. . . But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and destitute elemental powers? Do you want to be slaves to them all over again?  You are observing days, months, seasons, and years. I am afraid on your account that perhaps I have laboured for you in vain.” (Galatians 4, NASB). No. God loves us and saves us from enslaving religion.

And in Colossians 2: “Let no one, then, pass judgment on you in matters of food and drink or with regard to a festival or new moon or Sabbath.  These are shadows of things to come; the reality belongs to Christ.” (NASB)

The Letter to the Hebrews—written to believers who were formerly locked up in Judaism—shows how all has changed in the New Covenant and that the ordinances we read about in the Old Covenant were shadows of what was to come. Truly Jesus’ sacrifice for us and his resurrection has changed everything. The love of God for us all is now wonderfully portrayed!

Jesus took the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross affirms Paul (Colossians 2:14).  God’s amazing grace and love again!

The Sabbath was an ordinance given to the people of God in the Old Covenant under Moses. Exodus 31:12—18 shows us that the Sabbath was given as a gift to the people of Israel. It was a special sign of God’s covenant between Himself and Israel—there was a special relationship between national Israel and Sabbath keeping, as Exodus 31 shows (31:12—18), especially vss 16-17. The emphasis was on the whole nation keeping the seventh day holy, rather than merely a day of rest.

This issue was the major stumbling block for leaders of natural Israel because of the huge emphasis on Sabbath observance in their scriptures—an emphasis which is so noticeably absent from the New Testament. In the New Covenant we must follow Jesus and not Moses: “this is my beloved son—Listen to him” said the Father on the mountain.

By contrast, Abraham received no such special sign in the covenant which God made with him and which preceded the Law by 430 years! Abraham, Isaac and Jacob knew of no Sabbath. Now Paul insists the covenant blessing of Abraham extends to Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that we can receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Having begun in the Spirit do we finish in the flesh? No way. (Galatians 3)

The Sabbath ordinance like all the others, was nailed to the cross. Jesus has become our Sabbath, and in Him alone we rest in everything. We have been transported into the kingdom of Christ, the New Covenant made between Jesus and the Father, a covenant that can never be broken by us because we cannot break a covenant we did not make. Oh such love!

Jesus gave many commands to his disciples but not once did he mention the Sabbath to them. When he said “the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath” and “the the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” you will find the context was that of religious churchy leaders accusing Jesus of working on the Sabbath. They were out to get him even though he was doing the very works of the Father—working on the Sabbath! Loving everyone. He did not rest on the Sabbath but he certainly kept it holy.

In Acts 15, the apostolic leaders in Jerusalem appealed to Gentile believers merely to “avoid pollution from idols, unlawful marriage, the meat of strangled animals and blood.” Nothing else—nothing there about keeping the Sabbath. Now for Jews to say that could only come from the Holy Spirit!

There is nothing in Paul’s writings to support Sabbath-keeping, nor in any of the other apostolic writings. Examine Paul’s last letters, 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy and you find several lists of sins predicted ‘in the last days’ and there’s nothing about expectation of the sin of neglect of the Sabbath! Neither is there any hint of Sabbath-neglect among the lists of faults of people contemporaneous with Paul’s letters. None.

The bottom line is the New Covenant we have in Jesus—our lives are hidden in Christ with God. All has changed in the New Covenant. We are not Israel after the flesh, but we are the Israel after the Spirit. We come to Jesus weary, heavy laden for his rest to our souls and to learn from him (Matthew 11:28-29). Oh, what love!

Of course there is nothing in the New Testament to suggest that we should not meet on Saturdays! Or any other day of the week. Or how often, for that matter. There is such freedom for the people of God.

It does say that our being together should be frequent. We see this in Acts 2:46  . . .  “Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes.    . . . . . . And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”

And Hebrews 3:13 reminds us to constantly encourage one another daily while it is still “today,” so that none grow hardened by the deceit of sin.

Every day is the Lord’s Day in the New Covenant, “now is the accepted time—this is the day of salvation”. That’s because Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath—we follow him and not Moses who promised the coming of “that prophet” who turns out to be our Lord Jesus. So unexpected!

This is just another issue that we should not need to tackle–we who are partakers of the divine nature and upon whom the end of the ages–the new covenant in Jesus–has come! The devil loves to sideline the people of God into these sorts of things while people are dying around us and we trifle with doctrines which have long been rendered obselete. Let’s get on with making Jesus known, making disciples, healing the sick, proclaiming the nearness of the Kingdom of God.

ABOUT PERSONAL PROPHECY

Joel’s amazing prophecy in the Old Testament (Joel 2:28) was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and prophetic words became the experience of the many in the New Covenant, not just the special few as in the Old. The apostle Paul urged all in the Corinthian assembly to eagerly desire to prophesy (1 Cor 14:1—5). There’s no scriptural reason to believe prophecy has ceased and will continue when there is no longer any need for prophecy, that is, when the perfect comes, as Paul wrote . . .

“. . . . . we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. . . . . . . At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. 1 Cor 13:9—12 (NASB)

Because we see indistinctly, our prophesies need to be judged against God’s Word (1 Corinthians 12:10; 14:29; 1 John 4:1). Always ask : is what is being said consistent with the scriptures? The Holy Spirit, who inspired the scriptures, will never say anything in contradiction to them. The apostle Paul wrote, Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully. (1 Thes 5:20-22, NASB). And his words in 1 Cor 14:30-32 (NASB) are both encouraging and cautionary . . .

Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted . . .

Most instances of prophecy in the New Testament are found in the context of the assembly of Jesus’ people. Prophecy is distinctly different in the New Covenant compared to the Old. A prophecy just from one to another can be a great encouragement to a person. But there must be checks and balances. There are many voices in Christendom which are not holy. We are commanded to test the spirits.

It’s fine to desire giving a prophetic word or to receive one, but it is not healthy to chase after personal prophecy. That’s because the scriptures are our main guidance. We have great understanding and revelation by simply reading the scriptures with eager minds to know God’s will, the mind of Christ. Already we have inexhaustible riches given us in our new birth, God lavishing upon us his wisdom in abundance. Just read Paul’s letter to the Ephesians! Hey, mostly we don’t know what we already have in God’s promises. We must be passionate about renewing our minds and becoming conformed to Christ.

Knowing the scriptures, committing passages to memory, the words spoken by Jesus and the apostles, will protect us against deception and manipulation. When someone offers to give you ‘personal’ prophecy, take care. How can this be tested when this is offered as a service in the public arena? And care must be taken that it does not look like a Christian version of New Age guidance, even if offered by genuine believers. New Age practitioners regularly offer this and theirs are counterfeits of the true manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

Not only that, but we are a New Covenant people! Just read again what the apostle John wrote, warning against deception . . .

Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father.  And this is the promise that he made us: eternal life.  I write you these things about those who would deceive you.  As for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, so that you do not need anyone to teach you. But his anointing teaches you about everything and is true and not false; just as it taught you, remain in him. 1 John 2:24—27.

Genuine prophecy arises as the Holy Spirit ‘distributes . . . . according to his will’ (1 Cor 12:11). It is empowered by the Holy Spirit, no less. To declare a revelation from God is a serious and a fearful thing. Many people have been hurt by attempts to give private personal prophecy, so caution is needed.

Giving a prophecy carries with it enormous responsibility from us all—speaker, listeners and recipient— to be confident that the words are from God and not the speaker’s own ideas or doctrinal biases. On the other hand, people can be wonderfully encouraged by a brother or sister whether by an inspired word of encouragement from the scriptures or through the spiritual gifts of prophecy, a word of wisdom and a word of knowledge (see 1 Cor 12:8–10).

The apostle Peter warned that that no prophecy of Scripture is of one’s own interpretation (2 Peter 1:20). If we are solemnly warned not to interpret scripture privately, then it follows we must avoid any opportunity for private prophecy which escapes the scrutiny of others in the Body of Christ. At the very least, the recipient should be advised by the one communicating to seek confirmation of what was said with other mature believers.

Remember, if the Holy Spirit is the author, he will always point us to Jesus (John 14:26, 15:26, 16:13—15) . . . For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Rev 19:10, NASB).

Finally, we must love one another as Jesus loves us. That means in our prophesying and in all services to others we pursue love, we make love our aim and not to please ourselves. It’s not about you or me. . . .

Pursue love, but strive eagerly for the spiritual gifts, above all that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to human beings but to God, for no one listens; he utters mysteries in spirit. On the other hand, one who prophesies does speak to human beings, for their building up, encouragement, and solace. 1 Cor 14:1—3, NASB.

NOT HEALED? DOES GOD LIE TO US?

Michael I feel your pain. I am also tempted as you are. Jesus was tempted as we are. But to Messiah Jesus, Scripture never rang hollow. Perhaps we can say that there was one hour when scripture did seem hollow—when for our sakes, on the cross, he cried “My God why have you forsaken me?” Yet he trusted God and triumphed. So must we. The last thing we should do is to hold God responsible. Study Jesus.

Nobody’s experience . . . ? Really? Sometimes we can actually ignore the tremendous evidence of God at work in countless men and women. Their experience exceeds with what I have said here—I can refer to thousands, maybe tens of thousands. Almost daily I am informed by trustworthy sources of God’s saving and healing demonstrations throughout the world. It is extraordinary! Would you like me to lay it out for you?

We are without excuse. Absolutely.

Listen, even if we had NO such affirming evidence, God’s promises would stand firm. “Let God be true though ever man be a liar!”

We all who enter the Kingdom of God struggle sometimes to come to terms with a loving God who has graciously allowed us to choose to love him back. Yet his offer to us, his new covenant, is such a good deal. Amazing grace. Unbeatable. Where else can we find such salvation but from this ever-loving God?

Have you got a better deal?

It is the enemy who tells us we are empty, frustrated and joyless and that it is all God’s fault. We must hold the enemy responsible, not God. We have a formidable accuser who will not stop muttering to us that God cannot be trusted. Satan enlists others in his wretched project which is to destroy God’s kingdom of love, health, freedom and joy.

This enemy will do anything to stop our inheritance even to urging us into religious practices—‘exhausting prayers, fastings’ which can just end in emptiness and, God forbid, the shipwreck of our faith. We must turn from his lies to the clear word of God.

Satan began with our first ancestors and has continued ever since. He asked the woman “Has God really said don’t eat it?” She knew the word of God, “don’t touch that tree or you die.” Yet incredibly she believed the lie “No, you won’t die . . . . . in your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God . . . . .” (Gen 3).

The awful result is we begin to accuse God, to hold God responsible, if we listen to such filthy trash. Stop it!

You would think by now we would learn the lesson that we humans continually try to shift blame from ourselves to others and worst of all, on to the One who lovingly created us and has done the ultimate to show us his character of love. Study Jesus again. And again.

Our enemy is a liar from the beginning and continues. You know how the accuser has infiltrated the minds of many religious people to try to turn the glorious family of the New Covenant into a tangled mess of self-opinionated, self-righteous, self-justifying commercialised competing corporations.

As always, the way forward is to turn from unbelief to trust, despite any prevailing circumstances. Help is at hand from your many fellow-travellers.