Have you ever wondered what day Christians are to keep? Saturday? Sunday? Are we to keep the day as a Sabbath or as a Lord’s Day? Or maybe there is no day for Christians to keep. This might sound like a relatively minor issue. But this question, simple as it sounds, has divided Christianity into four camps, each supporting its own view.
A. I want to point out that I was not promoting the observance of Christmas in any religious way. Under the New Covenant, there are no days, whether commanded under the Old Covenant or practiced by pagans, that Christians must keep. Day keeping is one of the “weak and beggarly elements” and “rudiments of the world” (Galatians 4 and Colossians 2). Paul clearly taught against such observations. But he also said that even an idol is nothing, his point being that he knew he could even eat meat that had been offered to an idol (see 1 Corinthians 8). In other words, it’s not the thing but what is in our mind. Yet he would not do it if it offended his brother.
Readers are increasingly asking me questions about a set of doctrines called Hebraic Roots. In recent years, Hebraic Roots teachings have invaded many churches and even some seminaries. There are even Hebraic Roots Bibles and a Hebraic Roots Network. Because this trend appears to be growing in numbers and adherents, we should know something about it. It would be too much to explore all of the teachings of this movement in one article, and, to complicate matters, there are some variations in belief from one specific Hebraic Roots group to another. What I would like to do is briefly examine a few of the core beliefs of this movement and compare them to Scripture.
Many Christians suffer from various illnesses and injuries or have loved ones who do. Understandably, they wonder whether God still heals today. As we know, the Bible is full of accounts of healings. Many of them were spectacular, and the authorities of the day investigated some of them. In John 9 and in Acts 4:16, for example, the authorities never denied that the healing had occurred, they just took the stupid position of trying to cover it up. But does God still heal today? Or, to get right down to the heart of the controversy, does God promise physical healing to believers?
So that we know what we are talking about, let’s begin with a definition. A basic formulation of the Trinity doctrine is, God is a Trinity of three Persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory. Many who teach against the Trinity misunderstand this formula. They make a wrong assumption about what is meant by God being a Trinity of three Persons. They assume this to be tritheism, a belief in three gods. What is meant by “Person” in speaking of the Trinity is that which has the attributes of personality. It comes from the Latin word persona. In the ancient world, actors wore masks. The actor’s mask was his persona. It showed the role he was playing. In the discussion of the Trinity, “Person” never means “person” as we commonly use it today; that is, it never means a free and independent consciousness with his own will. Nevertheless, it does mean that the Persons have an I-you relationship: as I will point out in the Scriptures cited in this article, they communicate with each other.
I think that if you were to ask a representative sample of average churchgoers to name two apostles, they would most often name Peter and Paul. Today, we might call Peter and Paul the powerhouses of early Christianity. Peter was the apostle to the Jews, and Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:7). So, it was no small thing when these two men had a head-to-head confrontation in Antioch. Paul records it in Galatians 2. I want to go over those verses, explain what really happened, and point out why the outcome was crucial for the truth of the Gospel.
This article appeared in the Baptist publication, Signs of the Times, on October 15, 1869. Gilbert Beebe (1800 – 1881) was the editor and founder of that publication. With the exception of correcting minor typos, and breaking some paragraphs into two or more shorter ones for the sake of eye appeal, I have not edited the article. —PD
VERY DEAR AND MUCH ESTEEMED BROTHER BEEBE: – Will you please give your views, through the Signs of the Times, on Romans 7:2 and much oblige your brother in tribulation, if a brother at all.
William Brickey. Red Bud, Illinois. September 21, 1869.
William Gadsby was the pastor of the Strict Baptist church in Manchester, England, for 38 years. Today, he is best known for his hymnbook, A Selection of Hymns for Public Worship (better known as Gadsby's Hymns), which he describes as a "selection of hymns [written by Gadsby, Hart, and others] free from Arminianism and sound in the faith." In my opinion, it remains the best collection of sovereign grace hymns ever compiled. In his day, he was also known for his preaching. He preached nearly 12,000 sermons. He also traveled over 60,000 miles, often by foot and helped start forty congregations. The following article is excerpted from his work, The Present State of Religion. I think that anyone might profit from it, but if you happen to think that the Ten Commandments are the believer’s rule of life, you might try answering Gadsby’s questions. Can you?
Dear Sir, Friend G. informs me you wish me to write to you, and inform you what law it is that I say the believer is in no sense under. I therefore write to say (though I cannot help thinking you must know) that it is the law given to Moses on Mount Sinai, commonly called the moral law, or ten commandments, recorded in Exod 20, and hinted at, with its curses annexed to it, in Deut 27. This is the law I intend, and do venture to say that the believer in Christ is in no sense whatever under it; so that it is not a rule of life to that man who is led by the Spirit. As you promised to answer me if I should write to you, I will propose to you a few questions, and I hope I shall do it in the fear of God, and shall expect you to answer them in plainness of speech; and,
1st. If the law is the believer’s rule of life, I shall thank you to tell me what is intended by the letter written by the apostles and elders, and sent to the believing Gentiles, as recorded in Acts 15, and shall expect you to explain the chapter.
What do a patch of fabric, a leather bag, and wine have in common? They are all used by Jesus in three related parables—parables that Jesus used to tell us some very important truths about the kingdom of God. These parables deal with a subject that affects both the things we believe and the life we as Christians are to live. They are parables that, if rightly understood, will help us understand the Bible and help us grow and mature as Christians until we come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. But misunderstanding these parables can stunt our spiritual growth.
[This article was revised in January 2019: Further information.]
The distinction between law and grace is a Bible teaching that, if misunderstood, can put you in real danger of spiritual bondage. The apostle Paul gives us a very solemn warning that we should take very seriously: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1).