What is the Greatest Commandment?
By Let Us Reason Ministries
According to 7th day Adventism, The Sabbath: "...The divine institution of the Sabbath Is to be restored.... The delivering of this message will precipitate a conflict that Would involve the whole world. The central issue will be obedience to God's law and the observance of the Sabbath.... Those who reject it will eventually receive the mark of the beast' (What SDA's Believe pp. 262-63).
In one of her most respected works among 7th Day Adventists, their prophetess Ellen White wrote that Sabbath observance would be the "line of distinction" In the "final test" that will separate God's end-time people who .. receive the seal of God' and are saved, from those who "receive the mark of the beast" (The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan, p. 605).
Describing a supposed vision directly from God, Ellen G. White wrote, Holy Sabbath is, and will be, the separating wall ..." (Early Writings, p. 33;). She also wrote of some Adventists failing to understand that, "Sabbath... observance was of sufficient Importance to draw a line between the people of God and unbelievers' (Early Writings p. 85).
"Too late they see that the Sabbath of the fourth commandment is the seal of the living God." (The Great Controversy, p. 640 )
But the seal of the living God is placed upon those who conscientiously keep the Sabbath of the Lord .(RH July 13, 1897). S.D.A. Bible Commentary Vol. 7, page 980)
In their 27 fundamentals #18 The Law Of God"
The great principles of God's law are embodied in the Ten Commandments and exemplified in the life of Christ. They express God's love, will, and purposes concerning human conduct and relationships and are binding upon all people in every age. These precepts are the basis of God's covenant with His people and the standard in God's judgment. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit they point out sin and awaken a sense of need for a Savior. Salvation is all of grace and not of works, but its fruitage is obedience to the Commandments..."
#19 The Sabbath
... The fourth commandment of God's unchangeable law requires the observance of this seventh-day Sabbath as the day of rest, worship, and ministry in harmony with the teaching and practice of Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath. ... It is a symbol of our redemption in Christ, a sign of our sanctification, a token of our allegiance, and a foretaste of our eternal future in God's kingdom. The Sabbath is God's perpetual sign of His eternal covenant between Him and His people. Joyful observance of this holy time from evening to evening, sunset to sunset to sunset, is a celebration of God's creative and redemptive acts. Support is found in these Bible passages: Genesis 2:1-3: Exodus 20:8-11: Luke 4:16: Isaiah 56:5,6: Isaiah 58:13,14: Matthew 12:1-12: Exodus 31:13-17: Ezekiel 20:12 and 20:20: Deuteronomy 5:12-15: Hebrews 4:1-11: Leviticus 23:32: Mark 1:32 .
Where does the New Testament say any of these things are a symbol of our redemption or sanctification or allegiance in Christ? The New Testament clearly attributes this to the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13 says, "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory." But there is no guarantee of this if one does not observe the Sabbath, so it is a work added to what Christ has done. Even though they say salvation is by grace, they ignore it in practice by adding on laws just like the Roman church does with traditions, they may be biblical laws but they are not applicable for today's believers. ( Ephesians 4:30; 2 Cor. 1:21-22 )
This is so important that in their baptism vows, in point 6 it says, "I accept the Ten Commandments as still binding upon Christians; and it is my purpose by the power of the indwelling Christ, to keep this law, including the fourth commandment, which requires the observance of the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath of the Lord."
E.G. White stated, "The holy Sabbath looked glorious- a halo of glory was all around it. I saw that the Sabbath commandment was not nailed to the cross. If it was, the other nine commandments were; and we are at liberty to break them all as well as to break the fourth. I saw that God had not changed the Sabbath, for he never changes. But the pope had changed it from the seventh day to the first day of the week; for he was to change times and laws." (Early Writings of E.G. White, p. 33, also Desire of the Ages p.763) in the same book Mrs. White says, "The pope has changed the day of rest from the seventh to the first day." (P. 65 )
Modern prophetess Ellen G. White in her vision said " I saw the Ten Commandments written on them with the finger of God. On one table were Four and on the other six. The four on the first table shone brighter than the other six. But the fourth, the Sabbath commandment, shone above them all; for the Sabbath was set apart to be kept in honor of God's holy name. The holy Sabbath looked glorious a halo of glory was all around it. I saw that the Sabbath commandment was not nailed to the cross." (Early Writings of Ellen G. White, page 33, Official Adventist publication)
In Christ's special day for our time (prophecy lectures p.3) "throughout history the Sabbath has been kept as a memorial of Christ's creative power. It has been a sign of loyalty, liberty, and love in any age... Throughout the Old Testament, the Sabbath was a sign of allegiance. It distinguished God's people from the heathen. It was established at creation, observed before the existence of the Jewish nation, and kept by Gods people through the entire Old Testament period."
Really! Where can you find anyone keeping the Sabbath before Moses? The entire law was given to keep Israel separate, not just the Sabbath. It is not the sign of loyalty, liberty, love or allegiance. There is absolutely no reference to this, go look it up if you question what is being said. When God referred to those who broke the Sabbath He also did the same when they broke His other laws and decrees. Throughout history the Sabbath has not been kept as a memorial of Christ's creative power because Christ was revealed in the New Testament, not in the old. If there is anything in the Old Testament realtive to this fact it would be the Passover that became our communion. Clearly the Sabbath was given to a nation, not mankind. "It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. Exodus 31:16-17. Also the "Sign" which God gave Abraham was not the Sabbath, but the "Sign" (token) of Circumcision, there is no evidence he kept a Sabbath. It was circumcision which spoke of the righteousness of the Faith which had circumcised Abraham from all other peoples. Our spiritual circumcision is by the Holy Spirit (cutting off - separated) Col. 2:11 "In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,"
Law keepers claim the 10 commandments are perfect having all the instructions for man. Scripturally we find the law (10) does not give the all the instructions to man in the Old Covenant. It was not perfect nor eternal otherwise we would have no need for a new covenant (Jer.31:31). It Did not condemn our pride , selfishness, Drunkenness, filthy language, homosexuality, beastiality nor was there forgiveness, repentance, tithing or helping the poor found in it. These were found in the Law of Moses. The 10 did not have commands to preach the Gospel which is the only way to have your sins forgiven, nor to be Baptized or remember the Lord's supper, nor to love your enemies. Neither could it give the Holy Spirit as a personal possession for the believer. Isn't it clear we were given something new, just as Israel was given something new in their day.
These were all part of the law of Moses but Law keepers say these were separate, with only the ceremonial laws done away with. The Nomiast's argument is when we say the law is done away then we can go kill someone and commit adultery! According to their own logic we then can become a drunkard and a homosexual since it is the law of Moses that speaks against this and it was done away with.
So what is the greatest commandment ?
When Law keepers argue the law of Moses was done away, they mean we do not have to follow them any longer today. What we see in the New Testament: The two greatest moral commandments are not pronounced in the 10 commandments:
Matthew 22:36-40: " Then a lawyer asked our Lord Jesus, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" Jesus' answer: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets." Here we find Jesus saying the opposite of what law keepers say. From the law the second one is just like the first, equal in importance.
What's Incredible neither one of these are part of the 10 commandments. This first one is found in Deut.6:5 listed under the commandments and statutes and judgments, and the 2nd one is from Lev.19:18 which is alongside the moral laws. Yet Jesus said the 2nd is like the first , unfortunately it is not part of the 10 either. The 10 commandments don't contain the two greatest commandments but the law of Moses.! Sorry.
In Mark 12:28-31, One of the scribes having heard them reasoning together perceiving he had answered them well, asked him "which is the first commandment of all?" (first is translated most important not a numerical order) then Jesus said, the first of all the commandments is this here O Israel the lord our God our God is one and love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind and with all thy strength this is the first or... "THERE IS NONE OTHER COMMANDMENT GREATER THEN THESE." (Mark 12:31).
It is claimed by Sabbatarians that there are two types of laws, one given by God, the moral law, the decalogue; the other by Moses, the ceremonial the one written in a book. When Moses first gave Israel their spiritual anthem ( the shma'), so they would know their God is different from the other nations Gods in Deut.6:4 "Hear O' Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is one." Following it we find the greatest commandment v .5,"Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart, mind, soul and strength." It is this one Jesus points to in the New Testament.
Luke 10:25-28: "And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?" So he answered and said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." And He said to him, "You have answered rightly; do this and you will live." Would Jesus be pointing to that which is only ceremonial for one to inherit eternal life? He pointed to the greatest Commandment of which all the law hung on.
What we find is the whole of the Moral law (Law keepers believe is the 10 commandments only) hangs upon 2 ceremonial laws found in the book of the law. Jesus said the greatest commandment was not part of the 10 (Mt. 22:36) and it certainly was not the Sabbath as E.G. White claimed from her visions and revelations." He also states the whole law and the prophets hang on these 2 commandments, but they are not the 10commandments. If the 10 hang on these two commandments and they are passed away, (even most law keepers admit to this) what does this mean? So now we have what Jesus called the greatest commandment as done away with including the 10 that are hung on it.
It is not as the law keepers tell us we must keep the 10 commandments. As we go to the epistles we find a completely different story.
Rom. 13:8-10: "Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." This is the NT teaching of the moral law. " For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Gal. 5:14).
Here we find Paul who had the Gospel of grace state all the law is observed on these two from Moses, just as Jesus did. They are practiced under the law of Christ as he gives us the Holy Spirit, Gods love is found in our hearts. Law keeper's theology is that The law and the prophets hangs on the 10 commandments? Jesus theology taught by Paul was that The 10 commandments and the prophets hang on these two laws (Mt. 22:40).
It was Moses' law that explained how to observe the 10 C and much more (the other 603). If he did not explain it, no one would know how to keep the Sabbath nor the penalty for breaking it. Who are you going to believe the law keepers view or Moses'?
E.G. White says the Sabbath is the greatest commandment, but it was Jesus who said the greatest commandments of all were given by Moses. Matt. 22:36-40. He should know! It was through Moses that Israel learned everything. He was their mediator as a type of Christ. "You made known to them Your holy Sabbath, and commanded them precepts, statutes and laws, by the hand of Moses Your servant." (Neh. 9:14) The Shabbat is attributed to Moses just as the rest of the law is, its all his law.
Not only that they are spoken by God to Moses, they are part of the law of Moses which 7th day Adventists believe are done away with. Quoted from their own literature Gods law, Moses law, law and grace (lesson 9 Prophecy Seminar) "Gods 10 commandments law 1. Spoken by God himself..." this is to be eternal. Funny thing is that God spoke all the law whether God wrote only 10 or Moses wrote the others it does not matter, God spoke it and gave it all.
There is no difference made between what God gave himself or gave by Moses, they are all from God and are were of equal importance to Israel, they were all to be obeyed. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them." (Exod 24:12) In 2 Chron.33:8. "If only they will observe to do all that I have commanded them, even all the law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses." This makes it plain, this includes all by the hand of Moses. (See also Neh.8:14).
John 7:19: "Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?" Did not Moses come down from the mount with the 10 C commandments the law of God and the other laws? Lets see what Jesus means.
Mark 7:10: For Moses said, "Honor your father and your mother", and "He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death." This is part of the 10 C, yet Jesus attributed it to Moses making no distinction. Further Lev.19 :1 states the Lord spoke to Moses saying...vs.3 Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father and keep my Sabbaths, I am the Lord your God. So we see it was God who said this and Jesus attributes it to Moses. Why because it is all called the law of Moses? Just as John 1 says, the law came through Moses.
Ellen G. White taught that the Sabbath will be the "great test of loyalty". Those who observe the Sunday will receive the mark of the beast. Those that keep the Sabbath Saturday will receive the seal of God. There is nothing said about the fourth commandment being the 'greatest' or most important commandment or the 'test' commandment like Mrs. White had from her visions. In the whole New Testament there is no such an idea given. The only thing that relates to a test is trials for our faith to be strengthened.
Is the Sabbath the great test of loyalty? The Bible tells us the "test" is if "Christ in you". (II Corinthians 13:5). The S.D.A say the seal of God is for those who keep the Sabbath, the Bible says the seal is the Holy Spirit, God himself in all believers by the Gospel (Eph. 1:13).
Do Sabbatarians really believe that God would make any law more important than the greatest commandment to love God or the first commandment written on the tablets to "have no other God's before me"? Which would be more important to God? Who we worship or the day we do it on! To some 7th day advocates they seem to put a day as more important than God, at least that is the impression from their forceful message of the required Sabbath.
Do Adventists really believe their visionary prophetesses revelations that God would make the 4th commandment GLOW brighter than the first commandment or any of the others. When they were given to Moses they were all on the same tablets and none glowed, but Moses face did from looking at the glory of God. Adventists need to look closely at what Paul said in Colossians 2:18 "Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by... taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind." Ellen White's vision was the catalyst for all this NEW teaching.
What is the test every believer should take? Its not keeping the Sabbath! Scripture says its to test and see if Christ is in us, to see if we are in the faith.(2 Cor. 13:5) Is Christ in you? Do you have faith in Christ as you do in God? Eph.3:17 says salvation it is by faith, this is our lifeline to the Gospel.
The idea of keeping the Law, with its seventh-day observance, alongside Christ, is what prompted the apostle Paul to address this type of practice as another gospel that developed in the early church. "Ye observe days, and months and time and years. I am afraid of you lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain" (Gal. 4: 9-10). Compare this teaching to the Gospel that Paul says we are to stand in 1 Cor.15:1-4 which he also states unless you believed in vain.