Sabbatarians are constantly crying, “We must keep God’s commandments.” This is true. But where they err is in applying the term “commandments” exclusively to the ten written on stone. They quote such texts as 1 John 3:22; 2:4; Rev. 12:17; 22:14, and apply them to the old stone table law. But they assume the very thing that they cannot prove.
Do these texts show that the word “commandments” refers to the Ten Commandments? Not at all. Such a position is entirely erroneous. More than eight hundred times we have the term “commandments” in the Bible. After a careful examination, I find that it means more than the Ten in about ninety eight texts out of one hundred. In the former dispensation it was a general term for all the requirements of Moses’ law.
If Adventists mean to keep the commandments of the law, they will have to keep all the precepts of Moses; for there were many other precepts enjoined that were as much the commandments of God as the Ten. Circumcision, sacrifices, and all are summed up time and again and called “the commandments.” Jesus quoted two as the greatest “commandments of the law,” and neither is in the Decalog (Matt. 22:35 40).
But since the law dispensation has been superseded by the gospel, the precepts of Christ and his inspired apostles are the commandments of God that are binding upon Christians. The commandments referred to in the different Epistles and Revelation are not the ones on tables of stone, which Paul declares are abolished, but are the requirements of the new testament.
For three and one half years Jesus preached “the gospel of the kingdom of God” to this world. This was afterwards written and handed to us by inspired apostles. That gospel, which is the law of Christ, contains scores of precepts and commandments. They are the commandments of God, for he spoke them by his Son (Heb. 1:1, 2).
The Father gave Christ commandment what to say (John 12:49), and he spoke this to mankind. Therefore the precepts of the new testament are “the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” How dark and godless the leaven of Adventism, which prevents people from seeing any precepts binding as commandments other than those which were spoken on Sinai. Surely the vail is on their hearts.
Jesus taught men to repent, believe the gospel, forgive their fellow men, resist evil, love their enemies, be perfect, sin no more, pray in secret, be baptized, wash one another’s feet, observe the communion supper, and scores of other things. These are his commandments.
Now, he says: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me” (vs. 21). “If a man love me, he will keep my words” (vs. 23). “He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings” (vs. 24). “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14). The “words” or “sayings” of Jesus are his commandments.
To be a commandment keeper in this dispensation is to obey the sayings of Jesus. But where did Jesus ever command us to keep the seventh day? Nowhere. In his last commission Christ enjoined upon us to teach the people “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt 28:20).
If we obey that commission we shall never teach men to observe the seventh day Sabbath; for in all the four Gospels there is no record that Christ ever commanded its observance. I emphasize: Not once did Christ command the observance of the seventh day.
Paul says. “If a man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37). Then, the teachings of Paul are the commandments of the Lord. All true “prophets” (ministers) and “spiritual” people acknowledge this.
If the Adventists would admit this point, they would at once see what are the commandments now in force. All the teachings of Paul are “the comnnandments of the Lord.” Where, I ask, in all Paul’s Epistles does he command us to keep the seventh day Sabbath? Nowhere.
The only place where he mentions it by name is Col. 2 :14-16, and there he teaches that it was “nailed to the cross.” In Gal. 4:9-11 he reproved those who went back to its observance. The commandments of the Lord that Christians keep say not a word about sabbath days.
Again. says the apostle, “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you” (1 Cor. 11:23), and I have “kept back nothing that was profitable unto you” (Acts 20:20) Where in all Paul’s ministry, as recorded in the Acts and in his Epistles, did he deliver to the churches any instructions to keep the seventh day? Nowhere.
Not a single sentence or text can we find. Yet he kept back “nothing that was profitable.” “And ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus” (1 Thess. 4:2). “The commandments of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior” (2 Pet. 3:2).
All the precepts of the New Testament, then, are the commandments of the Lord that are binding upon Christians to observe. We are commandment keepers when we observe these. But since there is not a single command in the new covenant to keep the seventh day as a Sabbath, we are under no obligation to do so.
The Sabbath And The Lord’s Day by H.M. Riggle