|Vol. 12 No. 12 December 2010||
A fundamental biblical teaching that is essential to properly understanding Christianity is that the Old Testament has been replaced by the New Testament (Romans 7:6; 2 Corinthians 3:11-13; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 8:13). Since the inception of Christianity, it has been futile to appeal to the Old Testament (Judaism) for instruction in religion (2 Corinthians 3:6; Galatians 2:16; 3:10-11). Many prominent religious errors simply would evaporate upon acknowledgement that the New Testament alone is the law in religion by which everyone now living is bound (Romans 1:16; Galatians 1:6-9; Hebrews 9:15-20; Jude 3; Revelation 22:18-19).
Interestingly though erroneously, some sincere religious peoples today admit that most of Judaism has been replaced by the New Testament, but they contend that portions of the Old Testament are still in force today. Namely, more than one denomination claims that the Sabbath Day requirement under Judaism is still God’s law for Christians. Strikingly, however, especially the apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Colosse specifically dealt with such a contention. Examining Colossians 2:12-23 carefully should answer definitively whether Sabbath Day worship is authorized under Christianity.
Colossians 2:13 notes the transition the Colossian Christians had made from being lost to being saved in Christ; they had been dead in their sins, but they had been made alive in Christ by the forgiveness of their sins. The preceding verse (12) points to being buried (immersed) with Jesus Christ in baptism, symbolic of being buried in the death of Christ, as the point at which that transition from being lost to being saved occurred (Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21). Salvation through Jesus Christ was made possible, not by appealing to the Old Testament (Judaism), but by our Savior removing the Old Testament and establishing the New Testament. “Blotting out 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” (Colossians 2:14 KJV). Colossians 2:15 announces the victorious, death-defying authority of Jesus Christ (cf. Matthew 28:18) over rulers and laws, physical as well as, in this context, foregoing spiritual laws. “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Colossians 2:15 ESV).
Consequently, the apostle Paul warned the Christians at Colosse in Colossians 2:16-23 not to permit anyone to enjoin upon them religious doctrines that are not a part of Christianity. The specific warnings about doctrines that some would foist upon them that they were to refuse include: ceremonial “food and drink” from former covenants, religious festivals, new moon observances, keeping the Sabbath Day, asceticism, angel worship, religious ordinances, “commandments and doctrines of men,” human wisdom and willful worship. Among the prohibitions is Sabbath Day keeping or worship. It just cannot get much clearer and plainer than that. “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17 NKJV). Notice that verse 17 acknowledges the place the items in verse 16 once had in the law of God, but that they are no longer authorized for practice by Christians; those things, including “Sabbaths,” were merely shadows of something better that was to come, and that has come, and they are not part of “the substance of Christ.” They have been blotted out and nailed to the cross of Christ (Colossians 2:14).
Since the inception of Christianity nearly 2,000 years ago, mankind has been delivered from the Old Law (Old Testament, Judaism) according to numerous passages cited previously. Lest anyone should misunderstand, the apostle Paul indicated in Romans 7:6-7 that the Law of God from which we have been delivered includes the Ten Commandments. “But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet” (KJV). “Thou shalt not covet” was number 10 of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17). Hence, the Ten Commandments, indeed, are part of the Old Law from which we have been delivered. “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” is one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8) from which we have been delivered. Not only did the apostle Paul so instruct the Christians at Rome, but he likewise instructed the Christians at Colosse accordingly.
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
It is quite sobering to think that yet another year has passed into the annuls of history. How quickly life passes (cf. Job 7:7; Psalm 102:3; James 4:14; et al.)! As we look back on 2010, I am sure that we each can recall some good times and some difficult times this past year had to offer. In one sense, looking back can be disastrous (Genesis 19:26; Luke 9:62), but in another sense, it can teach us valuable lessons for the present as well as the future (cf. Romans 15:4). Looking back for just a moment can help us as we look forward to a new year.
Firstly, as I look back, I am reminded that ahead I must be cautious. Although at times it may seem like we, as sheep, are in a safe and secure haven with no threat of harm, such is not the case! We have a serious adversary (cf. 1 Peter 5:8), who is scheming (cf. Ephesians 6:11) of ways (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:11) to destroy you and me (cf. John 8:44). We must be cautious because Satan is walking around looking for his next victim (cf. Job 1:7; 1 Peter 5:8). We must be cautious because Satan is waiting around for weakened souls (Luke 22:31; James 1:14), and we must be cautious because Satan is wielding his fiery darts attempting to wound and obliterate those who go against him (cf. Ephesians 6:16; 2 Timothy 3:12). Brethren, let’s look back, but only long enough to be reminded that we must approach this New Year with caution!
Secondly, as I look back, I am reminded that ahead I must be committed. How committed were you to the Lord’s work in 2010? Some would surely have to answer, “Not very committed.” Others may say that they were faithfully committed. If you fall into the category of “not very committed” then you must repent. To a congregation that has lost its commitment, Jesus pleaded, “…repent, and do the first works…” (Revelation 2:5a). If you fall into the category of “faithfully committed,” then you must remember. In closing his first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul reminded these brethren, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). Even diligent, faithful soldiers of the cross sometimes become weary! It is especially during those spiritually exhausting times that we remember there is a crown at the end of this thing (cf. James 1:12; Revelation 2:10)! Brethren, let’s look back, but only long enough to be reminded that we must approach this New Year with commitment!
Thirdly, as I look back, I am reminded that ahead I must continue. Sadly, this past year has seen some among our ranks of fellowship stop their march toward that eternal reward. At one time, Jesus was more than willing to give them eternal life (cf. John 10:28), but now in their present state, God’s wrath is awaiting them (cf. John 3:36)! Sorrowfully, those who quit are among the ranks of Judas the fake (John 12:6; Acts 1:25); Demas the forsaker (2 Timothy 4:10) and others who have fallen (Hebrews 3:17; Jude 5). These are all examples and reminders for each of us that we must continue! It is not enough to start the race, but we must finish (1 Corinthians 9:24; Revelation 2:10)! Brethren, let’s look back, but only long enough to be reminded that we must approach this New Year with continuance!
Living in the past is certainly defeating (Philippians 3:13), but by briefly looking back, we can better prepare for the year ahead. As we prepare, let us be cautious of the enemy we fight, let us be committed to Christ and His church, and let us continue in that strait and narrow path that will ultimately lead to heaven above (Matthew 7:14)! Prepare for heaven in 2011!