In Luke 24:44 Jesus expresses the three component parts of the Old Testament: the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms. By “the Law” Jesus meant the writings of Moses – the Pentateuch, or the first five books of the Old Testament. By “the Prophets” He meant the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, etc. (the Prophets being subdivided into the Major and the Minor prophets). And by “the Psalms” He meant the Psalms, The Book of Job, Proverbs, etc., the same being the more or less sentimental writings; and we believe that all of us will agree that there is much of sentiment in those writings.
To digress here just a little, we would offer the four component parts of the New Testament: the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John); the Acts of the Apostles; the Epistles (beginning with Romans and ending with the letter by Jude); and the Apocalypse – Revelation. Thus we have pointed out to us the seven parts of the Bible, the “seven” revealing the Divine origin of the inspired writings, which we designate as the Bible.
MORE SPECIFIC DETAIL
Many good Christian people regard “the Law” as a reference to the Ten Commandments given to Moses by God, as set out in the 20th Chapter of Exodus, vs. 2 through 17. This is definitely true, of course; but in Psa. 119:97 there is this: “O how I love thy law! It is my meditation all the day.” “The Law” here, however, embraces much more than the Ten Commandments: It refers to the entire Bible, which is indeed the “meditation” of all true believers. Next, it would refer to that part of the Bible as expressed by Jesus – the first five books of the Bible; then in the very narrow sense, the Ten Commandments. The revelatory and strictly religious features of the Law have their beginning in Exodus 12, where the Passover was instituted, and which definitely ends that period from the Covenant with Abraham to the Exodus – a period of four hundred and thirty years. (Gal. 3:17) The minute exactness of this period is stressed in Ex. 12:51: “It came to pass the selfsame day, that the Lord did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.” And here we have the beginning of the Law begun by the Passover and elaborated in great detail in the remainder of the Pentateuch. It is well we keep this in mind in all our studies of this subject.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
Many sincere people consider the Ten Commandments as the Law of Moses; but they are just the nucleus of that Law. The Ten Commandments are the mandatory feature of the Law of Moses – divided into parts, “Thou shalt” and “Thou shalt not.” The secondary part of the Law of Moses is the Ceremonial features – much more extensive, much more complicated, and much less understood – although we would stress here that the mandatory features of that Law are also greatly misunderstood by many sincere people.
In Lev. 18:5 the Lord said unto Moses: “Ye shall therefore keep my statutes: which if a man do, he shall live in them.” This was certainly welcome news to the Jews: they would continue to live if they kept that law, and that they promised to do. They did not realize that this was a perfect Law, which as imperfect beings, they were totally unable to keep. When Jesus began His ministry at the age of thirty, the Jews shortly began to accuse Him of ignoring, or setting aside, this Law which was so sacred to them. And in response, Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” (Matt. 5:17) And this He did “fulfill” (fill full that Law); but the Jews did not recognize that He was perfect, and could keep that perfect law, which they were unable to do. Thus, the best of them, those who very earnestly endeavored to keep that law, continued to die; and this is a vivid proof to the unbiased mind that they were unable to keep that Law.
The Law is set forth in the 20th Chapter of Exodus, vs. 2 through 17. In referring to this section of Scripture the word “commandment” is not strictly correct. In Hebrew it is properly given as “word”; thus, the first word, the second word, etc. As a brief summary, we would express the first “word” thus: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” And the second “word”: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.” The third “word”: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy god in vain.” The fourth: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
The second table of the Law begins with the fifth “word”: “Honor thy father and thy mother”; the sixth “word,” “Thou shalt not kill”; the seventh, “Thou shalt not commit adultery”; the eighth, “Thou shalt not steal”; the ninth, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor”; and the tenth, “Thou shalt not covet.” Much elaboration could be offered on the foregoing, but that is not primarily the purpose of this writing.
As most of our readers know, we often become involved in extensive controversy regarding our understanding of the interpretation of the Scriptures; and these ten “words” are no exception. Just recently we became involved with a Brother about these words, and especially so on the one concerning “The sabbath day.” And our main reason now for writing this article is to help our readers to a better understanding of this subject. Thus we reproduce some of the questions involved, with our answers, in the hope that our readers will profit thereby. But before proceeding, we would offer the opinion that the Ten Commandments (“words”) are a grand law of justice, since they embrace every duty of God’s creatures to Him and to one another – perfection from every standpoint – and this does indeed prove them to be the inspired word of God. And believing this, it should immediately become apparent that in nowise do we wish to abrogate – or even mitigate – any part of those ten “words.”
Now, for some of the questions: “Doesn’t your belief in the Creation Week help the evolutionists in their false teachings, since it does away with the Sabbath?”
Answer: “Regarding the Ten Commandments, it seems we have a little different understanding on that – although you believe in them, even as I do. But no man has been able to keep the Ten Commandments – neither the Jew nor the Christian. Only the perfect man Jesus was able to keep a perfect law. Paul says, ‘having blotted out what was written by hand (the two tables of the Law, the Ten Commandments) in ordinances which were against us, and removed it from our midst, having nailed it to the cross.’ (Col. 2:14, Dia.) We know the Jews were able to keep the ceremonial features, because the High Priest was told to do it all exactly as Moses gave it – that he die not. And there is no record that any of the High Priests died because of failure to perform the ceremonial features – regardless of their moral delinquencies. However, the Ten Commandments were the ‘written Law,’ but not the ceremonial features. The latter were all given orally to Moses.”
Moses told the Jews that they would live if they kept the Law (Lev. 18:5); but they soon learned that they could not keep the Ten Commandments, because they all continued to die. Jesus, being perfect, was able to keep the Law, and proved it by what He did; He knew that we could not keep it – thus He nailed it to His cross. St. Paul writes, “I was alive without the Law once (in the Abrahamic covenant); but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” (Rom. 7:9) St. Paul says, “We do not make void the law through faith.” (Rom. 3:31) In answer to this we quote from Rom. 10:4: “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” Also, “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Rom. 13:10) If our life is motivated by that love – love for God and love for man – we are fulfilling the law, which is the same for all who “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1)
We are in full agreement that we should keep the Law to the best of our ability, because it is a perfect law. All these moral laws are incorporated in the New Testament, however, but there is nothing said about keeping the Ten Commandments. Should we fall short on any of them through weakness of the flesh, we should immediately go to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need. (Heb. 4:16) At the same time we are fully convinced that none of us have the ability to keep a perfect law – although we can keep it in spirit. As Gentiles, we were never under the Mosaic law; therefore, when Jesus “nailed it to His cross” it was only for the Jews that He did that; and He did that only for those Jews that became Christians footstep followers of Him. All other believing Jews are still under that law, but none of them can keep it; that is why they all continue to die. “Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments; which if a man do he shall live in them: I am the Lord.” (Lev. 18:5) And those Jews who kept the Law as best they could were blessed.
Some of those Jewish heroes are mentioned in Chapter 11 of Hebrews, but there is nothing said about their having kept the Law. In fact, some of them lived many years before the law even appeared. It is clearly stressed that they were victors “by faith.” Also, some of them mentioned grossly violated the law, but later repented. Consider, for instance, the case of David. The Law was then here – and David knew it – yet he grievously violated it. But the Apostle Paul includes his name with the heroes of the Old Testament. David’s heart was always right before God, but not toward man. (1 Kgs. 11:4; 15:5; 1 Sam. 13:14) But there is no doubt that he had that “godly sorrow that worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of.” (2 Cor. 7:10) The same with Rahab, the harlot, whose life was a gross violation of the law, yet her faith in the God of the Hebrews places her in the select company of the Old Testament heroes. (Heb. 11:31) So they lived “above the Law” in many respects, and “by faith” and repentance because of their fleshly weakness in violating the perfect law, were reinstated in the “Household of Faith.”
In the third and fourth chapters of Galatians St. Paul treats of this subject in some detail; and in Gal. 3:22–24 he tells us that we are saved by faith, not by keeping the Law. “The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.... then (v. 25): “But after faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” Here is a very clear and plain statement by a onetime Jew, that “we are (the Jews who accept Christ by faith) no longer under a schoolmaster.” However, those faithful Jews who are mentioned in Hebrews Chapter 11 lived above the law: they lived by faith – although punished where they violated the Law they did not keep, as in the case of David.
Here we cite Martin Luther’s fundamental doctrine (by which he mutilated the Roman Church): “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” (Rom. 5:1) He had the same difference with the Roman Catholic Church that we have with those who believe they can be saved by works. That Church contended that we are saved by works; whereas, Luther correctly contended we are saved “by faith” and no longer under a schoolmaster (the Law).
Note also this very pertinent Scripture on this subject: “Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Rom. 6:13–18) And 1 Kgs. 8:6–9: “The priests brought in the ark of the Covenant unto his place... There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel.” And so it will be under the New Covenant when it is inaugurated in Christ’s Kingdom. (Jer. 31:31–33) This Scripture (1 gs. 8:6–9) relates to the dedication of Solomon’s Temple; and makes very clear what St. Paul meant when he stated what he did in Col. 2:14 – “the handwriting of ordinances.” He is referring clearly and specifically to the two tables of the Law that ONLY were in the Ark when the Temple was dedicated.
Today many sincere people believe they are saved by works for a good cause. And many unsavory characters are highly praised for their “works of charity.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses tell their dedicated devotees (many of whom have our good opinion) that if they are faithful in serving so many hours a day or week, they will be chiefs in the Kingdom. At one time they told them they will live right on through to the Kingdom, but have softened that somewhat, as many of their faithful followers have since died.
By the foregoing statements we would not have our readers believe that those who have faith are to sit idly down and do nothing but have faith in our Lord and in God. “I will shew thee my faith by my works.” (Jas. 2:18) And that is our position, as all who have true animated faith will do with their might what their hands find to do: They will demonstrate their faith by their works. But faith cometh first! Every man should be able to give every man that asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear (reverence). (1 Pet. 3:15)
During this Gospel Age it is a “narrow way” that leadeth unto life; and, as Jesus said, “Few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7:14) But, when the New Covenant is inaugurated (Jer. 31:31) – made with the Jews just as the Law Covenant was made – all will be given a chance to walk up the Highway (an easy way compared with the “narrow way” now operating). And all nations will be blessed by this Covenant as soon as they come under it and comply with its terms. The “narrow way” during the Gospel Age is a call: “But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor. 1:24 – also see verses 25–30) In the Kingdom it will not be a “call” but a command, if they get life.
Question: “When St. Paul told the Jews ‘we are free’ in Christ, is there anything here that says the Jews were not obligated to keep the Law – the Ten Commandments? Or was he referring to the Ceremonial Law?”
Answer: “By this question we would not infer that the Brother is not sincere in his query, but sincerity alone is not sufficient. When the nations went at each others’ throats – as they did in 1914 – there is no doubt at all in our mind that many were sincere on both sides. However, at least one side had to be wrong; and some prominent individuals have contended that both sides were wrong. But the latter point we do not argue. We now confine ourselves specifically to one expression by St. Paul in Col. 2:14: ‘Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that are against us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.’”
Now follows this same text from a more exact translation: “Having blotted out what was written by hand in ordinances which was against us, and has removed it from our midst, having nailed it to the cross.” Let us stress here that the ONLY part of the Law that was written by God’s hand was the Ten Commandments – contained on two tables of stone – and nothing else. The ceremonial law was all given orally to Moses; none of it was written by God’s hand. (Ex. 31:18; 24:12; Deut. 9:10)
As said above, when the ark was placed in Solomon’s Temple, the only thing it contained was the two tables of the Law – written by God’s hand. (1 Kgs. 8:6–9) Aaron’s rod that budded, and the golden pot of manna were no longer in the Ark. This is to tell us that God’s eternal law – the Ten Commandments – will be perfectly implanted into human hearts and minds “in due time.” (Jer. 31:33) Solomon’s Temple in this picture is a replica of what shall be when the “living temple” of God is established in the earth. But for the present – and because of our frailty – it is “removed from our midst.” Certainly this statement by St. Paul is plain enough and positive enough for a child to understand it.
When the lawyer wanted to know what he should do to inherit eternal life, Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” (Luke 10: 25,27) So it is love for God and man that will eventually give us eternal life. This applies now in this Age, and will apply toward all men in the next Age.
Question: “When the Commandment says, ‘Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.’ is not this a perpetual obligation?”
Answer: “Yes, to those who have put themselves under it; but Gentiles have never done that – have never been asked to do it – so there is no obligation on their part to try to keep it. However, that same Commandment says, “In it thou shalt not do any work, thou ... nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant.” Can any seventh Sabbath Day adherent honestly say he is keeping this commandment? Does their manservant leave them a newspaper on Saturday? Does their manservant leave them milk on Saturday? Does their manservant operate a bus that carries them to church on Saturday? Many years ago we lived next door to a very religious Jew, who scrupulously tried to keep the Sabbath; so, every Friday evening at six o’clock – when his Sabbath began – he gave us a penny to come into his kitchen, strike a match and light his stove fire. Seemingly, he did not realize that in hiring us for that penny he was having his “manservant” – or boyservant – do some work for him. This general thought of the Ten Commandments – handwriting of ordinances – is further emphasized in Ex. 31:18: “God gave to Moses ... two tables of testimony, tables of stone (the Ten Commandments are the only “tables of stone”), written with the finger of God.”
And to emphasize the superiority of the Ten Commandments (written by the finger of God), note now the record in Deut. 31:24–26: “When Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law (the ceremonial features, written by Moses – in contrast to the Ten Commandments written by God) upon a scroll (not on tables of stone) ... Moses commanded the Levites ... Take this scroll of the law, and put it at the side of the ark (not in the ark – as was done with the two tables of stone, written by the finger of God) of the covenant of Yahweh your God.” (Rotherham translation)
When Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another” (John 13:34), that terse statement embraced everything in the great addition problem set forth by St. Peter in 2 Pet. 1:5–7: “Add to your faith virtue (fortitude); and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance (self–control); and to temperance patience (stick–to–itiveness); and to patience godliness (piety); and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity (love). And this addition circumvents all the ethical, ceremonial and mandatory elements of the Christian religion. If any of us could keep the mandatory law of Moses, we could not improve on what St. Peter has instructed us. However, be it emphasized here that no one of the fallen human race has ever been able to do perfectly what St. Peter has prescribed. In not one of these seven character qualities have any of us been able to reach perfection – just as none of the Jews could reach perfection in keeping the law of Moses; but it is the ideal set before us – “that we should follow in his steps.” (1 Pet. 2:21)
In no place does Jesus insist that His followers should keep the law of Moses; on the contrary, He tells us, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me ... for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:29,30) Here He was making a clear distinction between the yoke of the Law – which no Jew had been able to keep – and His yoke (“follow in His steps”), which we keep imperfectly, but, if faithfully, satisfactory to God, because Jesus is with us in that yoke, bearing the heavier part of it – a help the Jews did not have in their attempt to keep the Law of Moses.
Solomon’s Temple should be considered here in connection with this discussion. It was an elegant structure – one of the finest then in existence. And in this it was typical of the grander Temple, the spiritual temple that will appear when the Kingdom is established. At the dedication of Solomon’s Temple we are told, “The priests brought in the ark of the covenant (the golden ark from the Most Holy of the Tabernacle) of the Lord unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place (which now supplanted the Most Holy of the Tabernacle), even under the wings of the cherubims. (1 Kgs. 8:6); then verse 9, “There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb (where the Jewish ritual was first established after they left Egypt), when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel.”
All during the Jews’ journey through the Wilderness of Sin, on their journey to Canaan, the golden ark in the Most Holy of the Tabernacle had contained the two tables of stone, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the golden pot of Manna that never decayed; but two of these items were no longer there when the golden ark was transferred to Solomon’s Temple – showing us very clearly that when the antitypical Temple appears in the Kingdom, there will no longer be need for the Rod or the Pot of Manna. Only the eternal law of God will be there – the “words” engraved on the two tables of stone by the finger of God, which Jesus temporarily suspended, “Nailing it to His cross,” because no one had been able to keep it; but its presence in the Temple tells us very clearly that in the Kingdom all the willing and obedient will then be able to keep that Law – just as Jesus Himself kept it when He was with us at His first Advent – being a perfect man could keep a perfect Law.
Question: “In Matt. 5:17 not one word is said about Jesus nailing the Law to His cross; why, then, do you quote it now?”
Answer: “He does not say anything in Matt. 5:17 about nailing the Ceremonial law to the cross either. He had disposed of that in Matt. 23:38 – as we pointed out foregoing. And, as for the mandatory feature of the Law (the Ten Commandments) certainly He did not nail that to His cross for Himself: He had no need to do that, because He Himself kept that Law perfectly – something we cannot do. Therefore, at His crucifixion He nailed it to His cross to remove that ‘schoolmaster’ that had afflicted the Jews for centuries. ‘For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.’ (Rom. 8:3,4) That statement about ‘nailing it to His cross’ applied only to those Jews who had agreed to keep that Law; but it does not apply to any Gentiles, because they never were under that Law – had made no covenant with God to keep it. This is no ‘private interpretation’ on our part: it is just simple logic applied to a very much circulated illogical interpretation that quite a few good people mistakenly try to place upon it.”
However, we would emphasize that both the Law Covenant and the New Covenant are regulated by the same eternal Law of God, the Ten Commandments; and these must eventually be kept perfectly by all who will gain eternal life under the New Covenant – when “Satan is bound, that he should deceive the nations no more.” (Rev. 20:2,3)
Question: “If we are caught stealing, and plead exemption from prosecution because the Law was nailed to the cross, would the judge accept that excuse?”
Answer: “No, of course he would not! There are some features of the Law Covenant that we can keep such as stealing, thou shalt not kill, commit adultery, etc., but that is a far cry from including the entire Law. The Gentiles who were not under the Law had enough light not to do those things, if they were motivated by right and wrong. ‘But glory, honour, and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.’ (Rom. 2:10)”
Question: “Why do you make so complicated the plain and simple statement of Jesus in Matt. 5:17,18?”
Answer: “We do not make it complicated; the question complicates it when it tries to put Gentiles in the same category with Jesus Himself. In that text Jesus says, ‘I come not to destroy the law.’ Neither do we come to destroy it. But He also said, ‘I am come to fulfill it’ – which we do not do because we lack the ability and the heredity to do that.”
THE CURSE: “As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse.” (Gal. 3:10) “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law ... for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” (Gal. 3:13) The whole human family is now under the curse of sin and death; but, when the Jews covenanted to keep the law, but were not able to do so, it put them under a double curse. Thus, Jesus had to “hang upon a tree” – the cross – to redeem the Jews from the double curse which rested upon them – the curse inherited from Adam, and the curse of the works of the Law.
Question: “What about Matt. 5:19 – ‘Whosoever shall break one of these least commandments shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven?”
Answer: “Jesus had said that if–any one break the least of the commandments, he is guilty of all. Yes, here He says that even the “least” will be in the Kingdom of heaven. Coupled with this, we have His statement about John the Baptist, a Jew who was scrupulously trying to keep the Law: ‘There hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.’ (Matt. 11:11) Here is a clear statement that John the Baptist will not be in the Kingdom of Heaven (the heavenly phase of the Kingdom), although he painstakingly tried to keep the Law to the best of his ability, which he could not do. By our Lord’s statement, we know that he will be included among the faithful, honored Ancients, mentioned by the Apostle Paul in the llth Chapter of Hebrews – his reward being the earthly phase of the Kingdom and not the Spiritual phase, which is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Also, according to the questioner’s reasoning, the Apostles Paul, Peter, James and others will also be least in the Kingdom of Heaven, because they taught that the followers of Jesus – Jews or Gentiles – were not under the Law, as noted by the following Scriptures: “By him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the Law of Moses.” (Acts 13:39) “By the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified..” (Gal. 2:16)
More now from Acts 15:5–20: “There rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. (v. 5) And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. (v. 6) And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the Gospel, and believe. (v.7)
“And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit (Gentile believers), even as he did unto us (v.8); And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. (v.9)
“Now, therefore, why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers or we were able to bear? (v. 11) (The fathers were able to bear the ceremonial: many of the fathers had very little to do with the ceremonial features, although they were faced daily with the mandatory yoke – the Ten Commandments—JJH) Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. (v. 12)
“And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me. (v. 13) Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them people for his name. (v. 14)
“And to this agree the words of the prophets, as it is written. (v. 15) After this (after selecting a people for His Name among the Gentiles), I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David (the earthly phase of the Kingdom), which is fallen down (since 70 A. D., when the Jews and their temple were devastated); and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up (v. 16): That the residue of men (the world during the Kingdom) might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.” (v. 17) (After selecting a “people for His name” among the Gentiles, these saints will bless the residue of mankind in the Kingdom: “Know ye not that the saints will judge the world?” – l Cor. 6:2—JJH)
“Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. (v. 18) Wherefore, my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God. (v. 19); But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.” (v.20)
Also Acts 15:24–26: “Forasmuch we have heard that certain which went from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying ye must be circumcised, and keep the law, to whom we gave no such commandment (v. 24); It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul (v.25), Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (v.26)
“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if you keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.” (Act 15:28,29)
Note there is not one word here about those converts keeping the Law of Moses. Nor do they criticize them for coming together on Sunday instead of Saturday. The Apostles were readily agreeable with the Sunday meetings, inasmuch as the Lord had risen from the dead on that day, which would cause those assembled to manifest a sober and a happy attitude in their worship.
It should also be noted that from all the foregoing Scriptures there is not one word of criticism against the Apostles for accepting and preaching Jesus; their whole contention is against the teaching that the Apostles were then relieving Jew and Gentile of the burden of the Law yoke – “which our fathers were not able to bear,” the Law of Moses.
Note now 1 John 5:3: “This is the love of God, that We keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” – not unbearable, as was the Law of Moses. “For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one (Jew and Gentile) that believeth.” (Ram. 10:4) “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is of God by faith.” (Phil. 3:9)
More will be given on The Law of Moses in Part Two, D.v. For now it would be well for us to follow the Apostle’s advice in 2 Tim. 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” “The fear (reverence) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.” (Psa. 111:10)
Sincerely your brother, John J. Hoefle, Pilgrim
LETTERS OF GENERAL INTEREST
Dear Sister Hoefle: Christian greetings in our dear Lord and Master Jesus’ Name!
Thanks for your friendly letter of February 23, 1992. I was thirty years in active service with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I left the Witnesses in 1990, together with my wife and daughter, of our own free will.
In the meantime, I value the wonderful literature of Brother Russell which I get from the Dawn in Germany, the six Studies in the Scriptures. It will be a pleasure to get the book by David Horowitz – “PASTOR CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL, An Early American Christian Zionist.” Thanks for the offer.
I was thankful to receive Nos. 430 and 431, the Epiphany publications, which I read with much interest. The light of truth always shines clearer. I am sending you two names for your mailing list.
Also, I would like to know the address of Brother Hermann Bezner in Israel. I want to write to him as he is also an Austrian the same as I.
I greet all the brethren in America with Christian love.
Your brother by His Grace, ------- (AUSTRIA)
Please continue sending your publications. I truly enjoy studying them. There is great depth to them.
I enclose a check to help with your postage cost. Thank you so very much!
Sincerely, In His Name, ------- (WISCONSIN)
Dear Sister Hoefle,
Please send me a list of the publications you distribute. Put me on the list for your monthly newsletter.
Thank you! ------- (WISCONSIN)