The Sabbath, the "threefold Law" and theological escapology

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JonC δοῦλος, Mar 16, 2016.

  1. JonC

    JonC
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    There is another thread, “The Crux of Keeping the Sabbath Day Contention,” that I almost engaged with this topic. But in considering the subject I thought it off topic for that thread.

    I’ve been reading what to me is an interesting interview about the “threefold division of the Law” (a concept that I believe to be serious error and as being denied in the nature of the Law itself) and the fourth commandment (remembering the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy). In the interview Phillip Ross defends keeping the Sabbath as a part of God’s moral law. While the primary focus of the interview is the threefold division, I am interested here in the fourth commandment as moral law. That is the topic of the OP (not a supposed threefold division).

    The implication for Ross is that everything (to include Reformed theology itself) depends on this commandment being viewed as applicable moral law (despite the “sabbaphobia” that seems to plague many within many Reformed congregations). The reason is not actually the forth commandment itself, but rather that it is a moral law given (that it is a commandment and a moral part of the Law). “Foundational supports may be pulled out and everything sit in precarious suspense for a time, but as soon as someone moves or the structure faces stress—‘KerPlunk’—the church loses her marbles.”

    This made me wonder about the division of the Law (again, something that I believe is strongly denied in Scripture but as other disagree I am trying to understand a few points). Most, if not all, of what is considered ceremonial is something that points to a fulfillment (the sacrifice system, cleansing laws, sprinkling of blood, the veil, etc.). The Sabbath seems to be similar in this regard. It points to a greater rest.

    For those who do hold to a threefold division of the Law, is the fourth commandment a moral or ceremonial law, and why?





    (The interview I source: https://kevinfiske.wordpress.com/tag/philip-ross/)
     
  2. DHK

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    Romans 14:5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

    There is nothing "moral" about keeping the Sabbath or even the "Christian Sabbath."
    There is nothing "immoral" about not keeping it.
    Holding a service on the first day of the week has nothing to do with the Sabbath. It is done in remembrance of the resurrection of the Lord, and patterned after what the apostles did, not what they commanded.
     
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  3. JonC

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    So I take it you view the commandment as ceremonial?
     
  4. Martin Marprelate

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    I see it as Moral Law because it is in the midst of the Decalogue which is moral law.
    If I love the LORD my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, how can I place other gods before Him, worship Him as something I ( or a baker!) have created, take His Name in vain or go my own way on the day that He has commanded me to keep? The Sabbath Commandment comes under that first table of the law, though, like the other commandments, it predates the giving of the law (Gen. 2:2; Exodus 16:21-26. Also possibly Genesis 4:3).

    You might do worse than read Philip Ross' book, From the Finger of God (Mentor Books, ISBN 978-184550601-8). It is quite hard going; he interacts with all sorts of obscure theologians whom I've never heard of, but his conclusions are sound IMO.
     
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  5. JonC

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    Would you consider keeping the Sabbath, then, like tithing (both essentially denote, or have relevance to, God's provision. And the tithe predates the giving of the Law but was also commanded under the Law)?

    Sent from my TARDIS
     
    #5 JonC, Mar 17, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2016
  6. Martin Marprelate

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    The tithe is not a part of the Decalogue, and whilst we have the example of Abram paying a tithe to Melchizedek, I can't think of a positive command to tithe before the law. Certainly to give to God's work is a requirement of the Christian and a tenth is set before us as a positive example, yet I would be cautious of laying a tithe as absolutely the set amount.

    I believe the Decalogue is a special set of commandments written on the hearts of all men (Romans 2:14-15), by the finger of God Himself on stone tablets (Deuteronomy 5:22) and a second time in the hearts of Christians (Hebrews 8:10 etc.). I personally don't see any way of getting around these facts.

    I also believe that the decline in the observance of the Lord's Day has been an absolute disaster for the churches. Far too many professing Christians regard coming to church as entirely optional for them with the result that they are not benefitting from sequential expository preaching. God gives His commandments for a purpose.
     
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  7. JonC

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    While I understand Romans 2:14-15 to deal with a "deeper" law (based on God's nature rather than command), I absolutely agree with you in that the decline in maintaining a "Lord's day" marks a serious spiritual decline in our culture.

    One of Ross' statements about God's commands is that we are not afforded the luxury of altering their content (we can't, for example, take "thou shalt not steal" and twist it so that we in fact are justifying steeling). I am not sure how this comes into play when the Sabbath law becomes principle. The Apostles maintained the Sabbath while also observing assembling on the first day as a church. I think this was due at least in part to their custom and culture. Do you think the command is strictly to observe the Sabbath, or is it the principle of setting aside a day (or was it never meant as a literal seventh day)?

    Sent from my TARDIS
     
  8. kyredneck

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    ???? How so? What justifies you to 'cherry pick' 'the law' in vv. 14-15 to have a different meaning from 'the law' in the rest of the context?:

    11 for there is no respect of persons with God.
    12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without the law: and as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law;
    13 for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified:
    14 (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves;
    15 in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them);
    16 in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ.
    17 But if thou bearest the name of a Jew, and restest upon the law, and gloriest in God,
    18 and knowest his will, and approvest the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law,
    19 and art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them that are in darkness,
    20 a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having in the law the form of knowledge and of the truth;
    21 thou therefore that teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?
    22 thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou rob temples?
    23 thou who gloriest in the law, through thy transgression of the law dishonorest thou God?
    24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you, even as it is written.
    25 For circumcision indeed profiteth, if thou be a doer of the law: but if thou be a transgressor of the law, thy circumcision is become uncircumcision.
    26 If therefore the uncircumcision keep the ordinances of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be reckoned for circumcision?
    27 and shall not the uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who with the letter and circumcision art a transgressor of the law?
     
    #8 kyredneck, Mar 17, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2016
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  9. JonC

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    I'm not "cherry picking." Paul himself makes the distinction in verse 14-15:

    14 (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves;
    15 in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness

    We are not, nor have we ever been, under the Law. But that does not mean that the Law is unable to show us the law that we are under. The Law demonstrated God's own nature as the absolute and objective moral standard that we find so unattainable.

    As an illustration: Suppose I am a teacher and I enforce towards my class a specific rule of conduct. 1. They will be respectful to me and each other. 2. They will not steal. 3. They will not cheat on exams. 4. They will raise their hand if they have a question. 5. And they will all be seated five minutes before class. A student who fails to raise his hand is just as much a rule breaker as the one who steals.

    It is unreasonable to think that my class rules of conduct apply outside of my class. All of those rules are expressions of my nature, and my expectations. But I would hope that my children could look at those rules and think “yep…that sounds like Dad”, not think that I wrote it for them. They are not the class, but they should recognize my nature reflected in those rules. Is it against my rules to steal and cheat? Yes, regardless to whether it is my class, my child, or anyone else.

    The point is that the Law is not binding to anyone other than Israel for a specific time and purpose (Gal. 3:24-26; 1 Cor. 13:10). It was covenantal. But it reflects a deeper law based on God’s own nature. So I do see the 4th commandment as a moral law to who are under the Law. But to those not under the Law it presents itself as ceremonial and not moral as it will be fulfilled in time.
     
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  10. kyredneck

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    "....do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts...."

    I see no distinction made here. They are indeed doing "the things of the law". What are these "things of the law" that they're doing?
     
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  11. JonC

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    They are the same things, but not under the same convenatal Law. That's my point. The 10 Commandments reflect God's nature (it cannot be otherwise). While some take our obedience to be that we are "under the Law," Scripture presents the Law as a covenant between God and Israel. We sin against God, transgress His commandment. But we do not transgress the Law because it is not given to us to transgress. It is a matter of authority (and there is no mediating Law, there is the Mediator).
     
  12. kyredneck

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    I make the 'division' of the law from this stand point:

    3 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was hungry, and they that were with him;
    4 how he entered into the house of God, and ate the showbread, which it was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them that were with him, but only for the priests?
    5 Or have ye not read in the law, that on the sabbath day the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are guiltless?
    6 But I say unto you, that one greater than the temple is here.
    7 But if ye had known what this meaneth, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. Mt 12

    God stated more than once in the prophets that he derived no pleasure from the sacrificial/ceremonial portions of the law. It's those 'merciful' towards our fellow man as Paul outlined in Ro 13:8-10 and Christ condensed in Mt 7:12 that He has regard for.
     
    #12 kyredneck, Mar 17, 2016
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  13. DHK

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    I replied to this. I seems like the post went missing.
     
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  14. JonC

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    I read the reply. We agree to the extent that observing the Sabbath is not a moral obligation to us today. I think it was a moral issue for those under the Law.
     
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  15. JonC

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    I disagree that this divided the Law. They were bound to sacrifice, but not merely the act. The context, I believe, is not God telling them not to sacrifice because he does not what what he has commanded but that their sacrifice is not necessarily the object of God's desire. He desires a "broken and contrite heart," which is expressed in obedience (the sacrifices God commanded).

    This also, BTW, illustrates the nature of works and faith. God does not desire our works but our faith. This faith is expressed in obedience. Works accompany faith. God's desire did not change when Christ came.
     
  16. kyredneck

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    But you'll agree that David and his band that ate the showbread and the priests that profaned the Sabbath were guiltless, right?

    Works are NOT a by-product of our faith. Works AND faith are products of the regenerate heart.
     
  17. JonC

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    I do not mean that works are a by-product of our faith. They are the evidence of our faith. We are saved for good works, so to speak.
     
  18. kyredneck

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    Wrong. They are evidence of the heavenly birth:

    21 But he that doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought in God. Jn 21

    14 (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves;
    15 in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them); Ro 2
     
  19. JonC

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    Wrong, they are evidences of God's grace (Eph 2:8) :)

    I am not denying that works and faith evidence the new birth. I am simply stating that I did not mean to imply that works were byproducts of faith. Works are manifestations/evidences of faith (James 2:14-26). Of course these are evidence of the heavenly birth - I took for granted we were on the same page on that part.
     
  20. kyredneck

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    Yes, God's grace:

    7 `Thou mayest not wonder that I said to thee, It behoveth you to be born from above;
    8 the Spirit where he willeth doth blow, and his voice thou dost hear, but thou hast not known whence he cometh, and whither he goeth; thus is every one who hath been born of the Spirit.` Jn 3

    13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Jn 1
     
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