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The Doctrine of Christ

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    1. The moral law is based upon the character of God, and teaches us the true expression of that character in our relation to both God and man. 1 John 4:8; Matthew 22:35-40; Romans 13:10.TDOC 286.1

    2. After man had transgressed the moral law, the ceremonial law was instituted as the announcement in concrete form of the gospel of Christ, the Savior from sin. Hebrews 9:6-14, A. R. V.TDOC 286.2

    3. The moral law was written by the finger of God on tables of stone, which were put in the ark. Exodus 24:12; 1:18; 32:15, 16; 34:1, 28; 25:21.TDOC 286.3

    4. The ceremonial law was written by Moses in a book which was put by the side of the ark. Deuteronomy 31:24-26; 2 Kings 22:8-11; 23:2, 3, 21-25.TDOC 286.4

    5. The moral law is eternal in its character, and through the promises of the new covenant it is written in the heart. 1 Corinthians 13:8; Psalm 119:43, 44; Hebrews 8:10.TDOC 286.5

    6. The ceremonial law foreshadowed Christ and his mediation for sinners; and when Christ came in fulfillment of these types, this law was abolished. Colossians 2:16, 17; Ephesians 2:13-15; Colossians 2:13, 14; Matthew 27:50, 51.TDOC 286.6

    7. The moral law makes known sin and witnesses to the righteousness received through faith, while the ceremonial law pointed to Christ the Savior from sin. Romans 3:20, 21; Genesis 22:7, 8; Isaiah 53:7; John 1:29.TDOC 286.7

    Origin, purpose, and nature of the ceremonial law

    “In order to win the transgressors back to that law, and teach them his character, and hold them to himself, God devised the ceremonial law, by which his children could from the very beginning express their faith in him. In the patriarchal age it was very simple. In the Mosaic age it was complex, but every act that was performed had its lesson respecting sin and salvation; and sin is, ever has been, and ever will be, the transgression of the moral law of Ten Commandments. Sometimes this ceremonial law has been so intertwined in its moral aspects with the moral law that to the casual observer they have seemed almost the same. It is like a strong growing green vine on an oak. When the vine is cut, it falls and dies, but the oak stands just the same. The life of each is different. So it is with the two laws.”TDOC 286.8

    Laws delivered by Moses were of three kinds

    The laws ‘thus delivered by Moses, were of three kinds-moral, ceremonial, and judicial; expressed by three Hebrew words, which are sometimes put together in Scripture to signify the whole, as Deuteronomy 6:1; Ezra 7:10; Malachi 4:4. The first respected them as men, the second as a church; the third as a commonwealth. The first, or moral law, being the law of universal or unalterable right, is binding upon all men, and is still in force. The third, or judicial law, is of a mixed nature, participating of the nature of those laws for the sanction of which it is intended; consequently, the judicial enactments which serve for the defense of the moral law, have something of its equity and moral necessity in them, and like it are still in force. For example, ‘He that sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed,’ is the sanction and defense assigned by God to the sixth commandment, and remains in force in every age and nation. But other judicial edicts attaching to the ceremonial law must necessarily be abolished with it.TDOC 287.1

    The law of which our text [Hebrews 10:1] speaks is neither of these; but only the ceremonial law of Moses, called in Ephesians 2:15, ‘The law of commandments contained in ordinances;’ and in Colossians 2:14, ‘The handwriting of ordinances.’ It cannot mean the moral law, which had no shadow of gospel benefits. Nor the judicial, which was but accessory to the other two; while the ceremonial law was entirely of a shadowy nature, intended to show forth the things that were to be thereafter.”TDOC 287.2

    The Law of God handed down from father to son through successive generations

    “Adam taught his descendants the law of God, and it was handed down from father to son through successive generations. But not withstanding the gracious provision for man’s redemption, there were few who accepted it and rendered obedience. By transgression the world became so vile that it was necessary to cleanse it by the flood from its corruption. The law was preserved by Noah and his family, and Noah taught his descendants the Ten Commandments. As men again departed from God, the Lord chose Abraham, of whom he declared, ‘Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.’ To him was given the rite of circumcision, which was a sign that those who received it were devoted to the service of God, a pledge that they would remain separate from idolatry, and would obey the law of God. The failure of Abraham’s descendants to keep this pledge, as shown in their disposition to form alliances with the heathen and adopt their practices, was the cause of their sojourn and bondage in Egypt. But in their intercourse with idolaters, and their forced submission to the Egyptians, the divine precepts became still further corrupted with the vile and cruel teachings of heathenism. Therefore when the Lord brought them forth from Egypt, he came down upon Sinai, enshrouded in glory and surrounded by his angels, and in awful majesty spoke his law in the hearing of all the people.”TDOC 287.3

    The Law of God committed to writing

    “He did not even then trust his precepts to the memory of a people who were prone’ to forget his requirements, but wrote them upon tables of stone. He would remove from Israel all possibility of mingling heathen traditions with his holy precepts, or of confounding his requirements with human ordinances or customs. But he did not stop with giving them the precepts of the Ten Commandments.. The people had shown themselves so easily led astray, that he would leave no door of temptation unguarded. Moses was commanded to write, as God should bid him, judgments and laws giving minute instruction as to what was required. These directions relating to the duty of the people to God, to one another, and to the stranger, were only the principles of the Ten Commandments amplified and given in a specific manner, that none need err. They were designed to guard the sacredness of the ten precepts engraved on the tables of stone.TDOC 288.1

    The writing of the law made necessary by Sin

    “If man had kept the law of God, as given to Adam after his fall, preserved by Nosh, and observed by Abraham, there would have been no necessity for the ordinance of circumcision. And if the descendants of Abraham had kept the covenant, of which circumcision was a sign, they would never have been seduced into idolatry, nor would it have been necessary for them to suffer a life of bondage in Egypt; they would have kept God’s law in mind, and there would have been no necessity for it to be proclaimed from Sinai or engraved upon the tables of stone. And had the people practiced the principles of the Ten Commandments, there would have been no need of the additional directions given to Moses.”TDOC 288.2

    The moral law written on stone, the ceremonial law in a book

    The sacrificial system, committed to Adam, was also perverted by his descendants. Superstition, idolatry, cruelty, and licentiousness corrupted the simple and significant service that God had appointed. Through long intercourse with idolaters, the people of Israel had mingled many heathen customs with their worship; therefore the Lord gave them at Sinai definite instruction concerning the sacrificial service. After the, completion of the tabernacle, he communicated with Moses from the cloud of glory above the mercy-seat, and. gave him full directions concerning the system of offerings, and the forms of worship to be maintained in the sanctuary. The ceremonial law was thus given to Moses, and by him written in a book. But the law of Ten Commandments spoken from Sinai had been written by God himself on the tables of stone, and was sacredly preserved in the ark.”TDOC 288.3

    The distinction between the two systems broad, and clear

    “There are many who try to blend these two systems, using the texts that speak of the ceremonial law to prove that the moral law has been abolished; but this is a perversion of the Scriptures. The distinction between the two systems is broad and clear.”-Patriarchs and Prophets, 363, 365.TDOC 289.1

    The ceremonial law given by Christ

    “The ceremonial law was given by Christ. Even after it was no longer to be observed, Paul presented it before the Jews in its true position and value, showing its place in the plan of redemption and its relation to the work of Christ; and the great apostle pronounces this law glorious, worthy of its divine Originator. The solemn service of the sanctuary typified the grand truths that were to be revealed through successive generations. The cloud of incense ascending with the prayers of Israel represents his righteousness that alone can make the sinner’s prayer acceptable to God; the bleeding victim on the altar of sacrifice testified of a Redeemer to come; and from the holy of holies the visible token of the divine presence shone forth. Thus through age after age of darkness and apostasy, faith was kept alive in the hearts of men until the time came for the advent of the promised Messiah.”-Id., 367.TDOC 289.2

    A strong current today toward ritualism

    “The tendency to turn Christianity into a religion of ceremonial is running with an unusually powerful current today. We are all more interested in art, and think we know more about it than our fathers did. The eye and the ear are more educated than they used to be, and a society as ‘esthetic’ and ‘musical’ as much cultured English society is becoming, will like an ornate ritual. So, apart altogether from doctrinal grounds, much in the conditions of today works toward ritual religion. Nonconformist services are less plain; some go from their ranks because they dislike the ‘bald’ worship in the chapel, and prefer the more elaborate forms of the Anglican Church, which in its turn is for the same reason left by others who find their tastes gratified by the complete thing, as it is to be enjoyed full blown in the Roman Catholic communion. We may freely admit that the Puritan reaction was possibly too severe, and that a little more color and form might with advantage have been retained. But enlisting the senses as the allies of the spirit in worship is risky work. They are very apt to fight for their own hand when they once begin, and the history of all symbolic and ceremonial worship shows that the experiment is much more likely to end in making sensual religion than in spiritualizing sense. The theory that such aids make a ladder by which the soul may ascend to God is perilously apt to be confuted by experience, which finds that the soul is quite as likely to go down the ladder as up it. The gratification of taste, and the excitation of esthetic sensibility, which are the results of such aids to worship, are not worship, however they may be mistaken as such. All ceremonial is in danger of becoming opaque instead of transparent as it was meant to be, and of detaining mind and eye instead of letting them pass, on and up to God. Stained glass is lovely, and white windows are ‘barn like,’ and ‘starved,’ and ‘bare;’ but perhaps, if the object is to get light and to see the sun, these solemn purples and glowing yellows are rather in the way. I for my part believe that of the two extremes, a Quaker’s meeting is nearer the ideal of Christian worship than high mass, and so far as my feeble voice can reach, I would urge, as eminently a lesson for the clay, Paul’s great principle here, that a Christianity making much of forms and ceremonies is a distinct retrogression.”-“The Expositor’s Bible,” The Epistle to the Colossians, pp. 192, 193.TDOC 289.3

    Old Testament ceremonies illuminated by the gospel

    “The Old Testament ceremonies may still teach the contrite sinner what to do; and do teach him, if he read them by that gospel light which, as it once shined faintly in them, now shines fully and beautifully upon them. They tell him to take his sacrifice to the priest, and by him to God: Jesus Christ is at once the priest, the sacrifice, and the altar. Go with him into the presence of God, and present him by faith to the Father; and the sacrifice that he has offered for all men shall be accepted for thee, to make atonement for thee; and thy sin, whatever it be, shall be forgiven thee. And if we have done this, if we do it daily, what sweet consolation, what abundant assurance is there to be gathered from all these types and shadows. Do but lay thy hand upon the head of the sacrifice, confess thy sins over the head of thy burnt offering, lay thy burdens upon him in faith, and he is yours: and all that he has done and suffered was for thee; as much and infinitely more than if thou had done it and suffered it thyself.”TDOC 290.1

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