HAS THE LAW BEEN ABOLISHED?
An examination of Dispensationalism in the light of The Word of God
Harry Johnston, U.K.
WE are all familiar with the fact that the Sabbath day was instituted by God as a day of rest for both man and beast. We read these words in Exodus 20:8-11:
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.
This Law or Commandment, was given by God to His people, Israel. It was written by the finger of God on stone tablets, and was delivered to Moses on behalf of
Israel. It was written into the Laws and Statutes of Israel. It is also an interesting fact that it was incorporated within the Law of the United Kingdom. It goes without saying that the European Union has eroded, among other things, the law governing the Sabbath Day, through the alien courts in Brussels.
The purpose of this study is to examine the teaching of many so-called "Christian leaders" that the Mosaic Law is no longer relevant, or binding on God's people. I
was surprised to read the statistics regarding the number of Christians, who have been bamboozled into accepting the "brain-child" of the Dispensationalists, that "we are no longer under the Law, because we are now under Grace." They teach that the law conceming the Sabbath no longer applies because "we are now under Grace." The teaching is that "the Sabbath has been suspended and will be reinstated during the millennium."
First of all, what is meant by 'Dispensationalist'?
The word 'Dispensation' is a biblical word. In the Authorised Version it is derived from the Latin translation, 'dispensatio' of the Greek 'oikonomia'. Let us look at the four Scriptures where the word appears.
1 Corinthians 9:17 For if I do this thing will1ngly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.
Ephesians1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
Ephesians 3:2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
Colossians 1:25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
'Stewardship' is another rendering. It appears in the story of the unjust steward - Luke 16. This relates to the removal of the steward who did not rightly carry out his duties.
'To be a steward' translates the verb form 'oikonomia', while 'steward' is used for the definite noun 'oikonomos'.
The Scripture references are, Luke 12:42, Luke 16:1-3, 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 and Titus 1:7. The word 'dispensation', is therefore, a stewardship, an economy.
The dictionary definition is 'administration', 'a dealing of providence', a method, or stage of God's dealing with man, (Patriarchal - Mosaic-Christian).In theological
terminology, 'dispensation' has been given the connotation of a time period, during which a certain prescription of Divine Stewardship, or Economy is administered. In Scofield's Bible notes, (original version), we read the following on page 5:
"Adispensation is a period of time during which man is tested in respect of obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God. Seven such dispensations are distinguished in Scripture."
Scofield lists these as follows: Innocency, Conscience, Human-government, Promise, Law, Grace and Kingdom.
The followers of C.I. Scofield are the leading Dispensationalists. According to these people the Law of Moses, being EXCLlJSIVELY ADDRESSED TO ISRAEL, will not apply directly to the Church, and has thus been altogether abolished.
Let us look at some of the teaching on the Mosaic Law
Again we turn to the Scofield Bible page 1241, where we read, "The test of the Gospel is grace. If the message excludes grace or mingles law with grace as the means either of justification or sanctification (Galatians 2:21/ 3:1-3), it is another gospel and the preacher of it is under the anathema (curse) of God." In the Annotated Bible Gabelein says of the Ten Commandments (as given within the Mosaic Law): "This Law was given to Israel exclusively, which is seen in the opening word... May we understand that this Law cannot give righteousness nor life, and that it is not in force as the rule for Christians in order to receive Blessing from God."
Here is the teaching that so many adhere to, a teaching which has blinded the understanding of many thousands of good Christian folk. Such a degrading view of the Mosaic Law given by God Himself is a far cry from the theological position of the Reformers. I for one believe the Mosaic Law is still very much in force and that the CEREMONIAL LAW was abolished. It was abolished by Jesus when He cried out from the cross, "IT IS FINISHED!"
The Westminster Confession of Faith, along with the following Confessions, declare The Ten Commandments and the Mosaic Laws and Statutes - the moral law - to be inviolate.
The Scottish Confession - 1560
The 39 Articles of the C of E - 1571
The Formula of Concord - 1577
The Irish Articles - 1615
The Methodist Articles of Religion - 1784
There are many other historical documents which declare the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic Law to be inviolate. It is an indisputable fact that all the Protestant Churches stood firmly by the Ten Commandments and used them as a sure guide through life. It was the advent of Dispensationalism in 1830 that ushered in the heresies that have troubled the church ever since. This form of heresy can, in fact, be traced back to Johannes Cocceius, a prominent Dutch Reformed theologian of the seventeenth century.
Modern Dispensationalism can, however, be traced to the Brethren Movement, which had its beginnings in England in around 1830; the leader of this movement
was John Nelson Derby.
Let us examine some of the Scriptures used to propagate their theories.
John 1:16-17 - And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
"According to this passage, the whole Mosaics ystem was fulfilled, superseded and terminated in the first advent of Christ." This comment was made by L.S. Chafer, a leading light in the Dispensational set-up. His theology relating to 'the whole Mosaic system' includes the Ten Commandments, the Moral law. He, of course, has taken a small portion of the context in order to propound his theory.
Let us read what the great Augustine has written: "The Law was given that grace might be sought; grace was given that the Law might be fulfilled." Few have not heard of Harry A. Ironside, who was another prominent figure in the Dispensational camp. Here is his comment: "The Law was our child leader, perhaps not exactly to bring us to Christ, but, the Law was our child leader until Christ (John 1:17). Now Christ has come we have come to the door of the schoolroom of grace and we have learned the blessed truth of Justification by faith alone in Him Whom God has set forth to be the propitiation of our sins. We are no longer under a child director. We are here told that we are not only freed from the Law as a means of attempting to secure Justification, but also free from that Law as a means of Sanctification, for we have so much higher a standard in Christ risen from the dead and are to be occupied with Him." Thus. both Chafer and Ironside would abolish the Mosaic Law as a rule of Christian life.
What does John Calvin think of all this?
Galatians 3:19-25 - Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
"Here the question is again put, is the Law so abolished that we have nothing to do with it? I answer, the Law, so far as it is a rule of life, a bridle to keep us in the fear of the Lord, a spur to correct the sluggishness of our flesh - so far, in short, as it is, 'Profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that believers may be instructed in every good work' (2 Timothy 3: 16, 17) - is as much in force as ever and remains untouched."
As Paul said, Romans 3:31 "Do we then make void the Law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the Law."
Psalm 19:7 and 8, stands supreme for its wisdom. I believe the psalmist was inspired when he penned these words:
"The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes."
The Law of the Lord is not only for the soul that needs conversion, but also for the nurture and warning of the converted. David continues:
Verses 9 -11
" ... the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant wamed: and in keeping of them there is great reward"
What do these people have to say about Ephesians 2:14 & 15?
"For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace..."
The narne Williarn Kelly is prominent in Brethren circles and his comment on the above Scripture is as follows, "The will of man has raked up the law of
commandments out of the grave of Christ and enacts it over again. This is what is found throughout all Christendom. It is inconceivable except through realizing the power of Satan, how Christians can take up the peculiar institutions of God to His people, curses and all, in the face of-such a chapter as this, where we find that all this is gone, even for the Jews who believe, by the authority of God. It is a practical denial of the blood and cross of Christ.What a solemn proof of the ruined state of the Church of God: The truth is plain indeed: 'Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the Law of Commandments contained in ordinances... '" (Lecture on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle, to the Ephesians, with a New Translation by Williarn Kelly.P107).
It is absolutely clear that these people cannot distinguish between the Ceremonial Law, which was annulled when Christ Jesus shouted out in triumph, 'IT IS FINISHED!' and the Moral Law including the Ten Commandments, which as we have seen are inviolate.
Once again we must look at the full context of what Paul wrote to the Ephesians, and this is found in Ephesians 2:11-19. I would recommend that you read the passage for yourself and get the context. In verse 11 Paul reminds the believers that they, as Israelites, had been gentilised and goes on to tell them how they had met with Christ, became Christians and were re-established in the Commonwealth of Israel. Jews had also become Christians, but had continued to observe the Ceremonial laws which Christ had abolished at the moment of His death. There is no mention whatsoever of the Ten Commandments or the rest of the Mosaic Law.
Let us examine one final text used by Dispensationalists:
Colossians 2:14 - 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.
E Schuyler English interprets this as follows: "The handwriting of ordinances refers to the Law ,especially the Ten Commandments, written by the finger of God. The Law was against us - it does not save, but condemns. However, this writing was blotted out, done away with. It was nailed to the cross of Christ - and when He died, it died. It is no longer in operation, but has been superseded by the better sacrifice, that of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Albert Barnes repudiates this statement by English. In no way does he agree that the handwriting is the Ten Commandments, but rather an allusion to a written contract which binds one to any task, or to make a payment and which remains in force until the bond is cancelled. In the Orient, the method used in the cancellation of a bond is to drive a nail through it and the Ceremonial Law was thus portrayed in Colossians and the other texts quoted.
We commenced this study with a reference to the Sabbath Day and I want to return to that theme as the study draws to its conclusion.
The Dispensational teaching, just to remind you, is that the Sabbath was a Jewish institution, a day of legal obligation, which was done away with under grace. It is
simply a humane day of rest for man and beast and is not a day of worship, or any manner of religious service. It will be restored during the Millennium.
Let us appeal to the Word of God for the fact that all Ten Commandments, the Statutes and Judgements are in operation (or ought to be!) in these final days. The
Pharisees were never far away from Jesus, or His followers. They dogged His footsteps, waiting for any opportunity to make an accusation against Him, or His
companions. They wanted, particularly, to get Him breaking any Sabbath law. Matthew 12:2-8, records the time when the Pharisees thought they had Him
cornered. Jesus and His disciples were walking through a cornfield and His disciples were hungry. They casually plucked off ears of corn and ate them. The Pharisees wasted no time:
But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the Sabbath day. But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the Sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.
The Pharisees then attempted to accuse Him of breaking the Law when He healed sick people in the Sabbath, again getting nowhere. In these incidents there is a full exposition of the doctrine of the Sabbath. In all the accusations of Sabbath breaking levelled at our Lord, there was not a single one that charged Him, or His
followers, of doing secular work as on weekdays. We are aware that Jesus travelled far and wide during His earthly ministry and we know that the disciples caught
fish in order to support themselves and their families. They were never accused of travelling more than a Sabbath day's journey, or for catching fish, or drying their nets, on the Sabbath day. The only charge the Pharisees could bring was a very minor one, plucking an ear of corn. Nevertheless, there is a wealth of information to be had from the incident.
It tells us that Jesus and the disciples were strict about keeping the Sabbath day. Jesus was maliciously accused of four healings on the Sabbath day, but He reminded His accusers that the Law of the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. It is most important that we remember that Jesus only ever performed acts of kindness on the Sabbath. No one could legitimately accuse the disciples of manual labour simply because they plucked ears of corn because they were hungry.
Another important fact emerges, and it is that the Lawof the Sabbath must yield to the Law of rendering service to God. It is lawful to travel on the Sabbath to
preach God's Word, or to a place where God's Word is being preached. It is not lawful, however, to dig the garden, or wash the car. The Pharisees were levelling
their accusations at the One who was Lord of the Sabbath, the very One who had a say in the framing of the Law given to Moses including the Ten Commandments.
In case anyone has it in mind to say that the original Sabbath was a Saturday, let me say this, the firstday of the week, Sunday, was rightly called the Lord's Day in
Commemoration of the resurrection of our Lord from the dead (Revelation 110).
The following is from the Westminster Confession of Faith. Article 21 : VII.
"As it is of the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God, so, in His Word, by a positive, moral and perpetual commandment, binding all men in all ages, He hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto Him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week, which in Scripture is called the Lord's Day and to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath. This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words and thoughts, about their worldly employments and recreations but also are taken up the whole time in public and private exercise of his worship and in the duties of necessity and mercy." Thus echoing the words of our Lord, for which He was accused of Sabbath breaking.
This is a large and involved subject and one that needs to be made known to all. The Dispensationalists are wrong because they do not have the truth. What is the
truth? It is quite simple to follow.
The Mosaic Law was given to only one nation and that nation was Israel, therefore we must study it in that context. The Ceremonial Law was abolished and that
only because Jesus died for the sins of the people. We no longer have to make sacrificial offerings for sin, because He wiped the slate clean, ensuring that all that
needs tobe done is accept Him as our Supreme Sacrifice and own Him as Lord and Saviour.
The Moral Law is inviolate, it is binding and is with us whether the Brethren like it or not! The most important thing is to emphasize the absolute necessity fora return
to the observance of the Ten Commandments, Statutes and Judgements of the Mosaic Law. We are paying a terrible price because we have rejected the Law, written by the finger of God.We have become a Godless nation and under threat of imprisonment if we speak out against the pagan worship, which is rampant in our
nation. The victim suffers, while the criminal elements are well cared for. I will not elaborate further but think how far this nation has fallen into sin. Just think how
family life has been eroded by civil partnerships and other anti-Christian laws that have come from Westminster via Brussels.
I am firmly convinced that God has allowed us to come to the very brink of the final cleansing of Israel and the Word of God rings clearly in my ears. (Romans
10:14). We have been sent, I believe, to proclaim all the Council of God, to expose, fearlessly, the false shepherds of Israel and to restore the pure word of God to the Nation.
We have a huge responsibility, one that we must be fully willing to bear. Let us continue to press forward in confidence, in the sure knowledge that the Holy Spirit is
our Teacher and our Guide.
Back To Archive Contents