Friday, June 21, 2024

Common Legalist Arguments - Part VI

In my last post in this series, which was but a few moments ago in geological time, we went over the idea that if portions of the law predated Sinai then those things are binding after Sinai. We saw that this argument does not work. The point is to find a way to bind Christians to the Sabbath, or tithing. The Sabbath did not long predate Sinai but other things did, like animal sacrifice. That existed from the very start. Cain and Abel, Noah, and Abraham all practiced animal sacrifice. We know animal sacrifice is no longer required today. Abraham was circumcised, and circumcision is no longer required today. Therefore, it is not true that if things were done prior to the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai then they are required today.

This time, I would like to address what I consider to be a very strange approach that many take to validate their views on law keeping - claiming that since God is eternal then the law is eternal, too.
I have recently started seeing this claim quite frequently.

God is eternal, therefore the law is eternal.

I don't know how many of you are familiar with logic. I think anyone who wants to think deeply on any subject at all should be familiar with logic. Logic helps us form our thoughts correctly.

It is especially good to learn about logical fallacies. These are guidelines to help you recognize and avoid poorly formed arguments. Understanding logical fallacies help us to understand such things as why name-calling is not a valid argument. "You're wrong because you're a Nimrod worshipper," falls down for specific reasons. It's good to understand why.

One particularly useful logical fallacy is "non-sequitur". That's Latin for "does not follow". This is when someone mistakenly claims one thing is caused by another unrelated thing.
For example, a blatant non-sequitur would be, "It just rained, therefore I need to buy a cat."

What in the world does the one have to do with the other? Nothing. You might search and find maybe one instance where the person had some good reason for buying a cat after a rainstorm. It's possible. But finding one instance does not mean purchasing a cat naturally flows directly from rainy days, as if "rain, therefore cat". You could say, "It just rained therefore the grass is wet." That follows naturally. Wet grass does come from rain. "Rain, therefore wet." Or, you might say, "It just rained, therefore wipe your feet when you come inside." Dirty feet come from mud and wet grass. That follows. But buying cats? No.

In this same way, saying the law is eternal because God is eternal is a non sequitur.

We will grant God is eternal. He is. But so what is that to the law? God is not the law and the law is not God, so what does God's eternality have to do with the law? Nothing. It does not follow that because God has an attribute, therefore the law also has that attribute. The law doesn't get that attribute any more than you or I do. God is merciful, was the law merciful? No (HEB. 10: 28). The law had no provision for mercy. The law might have told humans to be merciful, but the law itself was not merciful. God is graceful, but the law was not. Grace came through Jesus (JON. 1: 17). God has attributes the law did not, so why does God being eternal make the law eternal? It does not.

Certain big concepts flow by necessity from God's nature - goodness, wisdom, justice, love, intellect, etc. The specifics of Torah law do not necessarily flow by necessity from God's being in the way things like mercy, authority, or numbers do. It does not follow that because God is good therefore a shofar must be blown on the first day of the seventh month.
"God is good, therefore shofar" is just as non sequitur as "rain, therefore cat".

The entire argument is at its very core completely illogical.


Knowing that right now someone is out there complaining, "Logic is created by men and doesn't apply to God because words words words....", I will move on to looking into the workings of the claim. If the law proceeds from God's being necessarily, then it has to be eternal in the past because God is eternal in the past.

Some laws cannot possibly have been eternal in the past. Have you read the list of Torah laws? Any national law for Israel could not possibly have been eternal. You cannot have a national law for Israel before there was an Israel. You cannot have a law about tassels on garments before there were garments or weaving.

Any ceremonial law could not be eternal in the past. You cannot tithe before there were humans and increase. You cannot rest before there was creation and work. You cannot sacrifice animals before there were animals, or burn incense before there was incense, or travel to Jerusalem three times in a year before there was a Jerusalem or a year.

If the law was eternal in the past, then how can Paul claim it came 430 years after God made a promise to Abraham (GAL. 3: 17)? He could not. Paul did not say it was written down, or given, 430 years later. Paul's point was unambiguously that the promise predated and superseded the law. He then goes on to the law "was added" (v. 19). In Romans 5: 13 he says "until the law" and "there is no law". How can Paul speak this way if the law was eternal in the past? He cannot.

Anyone who continues to claim the national and ceremonial laws are past eternal have created an issue. Laws that exist before the things they govern exist. So, what are the implications of this? This can only mean one of two things:
1) There are untold myriads of hidden laws out there, existing for no good reason, governing things that have yet to come into existence, or might never come into existence. We have no way of knowing what legions of laws there might be. Clearly, this is ridiculous.
2) The 613 Torah laws are perfect and are the only ones that flow from God's being. No more and no less. For some reason, because God is such and such, therefore the thread in Israelites and only Israelites clothing had to be blue. "God, therefore blue thread." But not other colors of thread, and not other people. Blue is the perfect color because God is such and such. For some reason, God is such and such, therefore the High Priest is prohibited from marrying a widow. That's just how things had to be. "God, therefore no widows." Clearly, this is also ridiculous.

I am not saying the laws are ridiculous. I am saying making them past eternal and tying them directly to God's being is ridiculous.

The sheer absurdity of this claim should be coming into focus.


If the law proceeds from God's being necessarily, then it has to be eternal in the future because God is eternal in the future and unchanging. If the law is eternal in the future, then no law can be removed or altered.

Are parts of the Old Covenant law no longer binding? Yes. Name one. Circumcision. Then the law isn't eternal. Most people will readily admit the ceremonial and the national laws are gone. That's 2/3 of the law gone! The law cannot be both eternal and gone. That violates the law of non-contradiction. Hebrews 7: 12 says:

(HEB. 7: 12) For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law.

What! A change? Yes, the unchanging law has changed. That means it's not eternal.

When Jesus died, the veil to the Holy of Holies was torn in two (MAT. 27: 51), signifying the way to God was now open. No more Day of Atonement with its ritualistic national cleansing would be necessary (HEB. 10: 19-22). None of these laws are eternal in the future.

But it wasn't merely some slight alteration. The entire Levitical system, with its Temple and its ceremonies and its tithes and offerings and its appointments and its holiness rituals and its condemnation, was removed. Not just changed , removed. Read II Corinthians 3: 7-16. The old ministry and all its laws have passed away, replaced by a whole new system. Therefore, not a single one of those many laws can be eternal in the future.

So, not only is the premise incorrect that the law is eternal, but it is easy to see the argument "God is eternal, therefore the law is eternal," is non-sequitur.


Let's not be coy here. We all know the one law many people are really after is the Sabbath day.

When we start defining what is moral law, we have to start defining why certain things are moral. Once we start scrutinizing the Sabbath, we see it has no moral component at all. The only thing in the world it has going for it is that it's in the Ten Commandments. We explored that in the article. "Is Ceremonial Law Removed?". The argument "Ten Commandments, therefore moral" is just as non-sequitur as "God, therefore the law is eternal". Let's briefly scrutinize the eternality of the Sabbath.

If the moral law is eternal, and the Sabbath is a moral law, then the Sabbath is eternal. Yay! But...

Genesis 1: 5, God created day and night. How can the Sabbath day exist before there was day? Let alone the seventh one. It cannot. Most Sabbatarians point at Genesis 2: 2 to justify the Sabbath day. How can we look here in Genesis for the Sabbath yet it existed eternally before that?

In the Kingdom there will be no day or night or need for the sun (REV. 21:22 - 22: 5). No day or night means no weekly Sabbath day. The Sabbath day is utterly dependent on day and night - by definition and by law! It could not exist before there was a sun, and it cannot exist after the sun is gone. How can the Sabbath be eternal when we can demonstrate from the Bible that the concept of day and night are not eternal?
You could also look towards the point of the Sabbath - rest. How can we have a rest when there is no longer any toil to rest from? The definition of a Sabbath rest is not simply rest, it is rest from assigned regular duties. No toil, no point to rest. Just like in Eden. What did Adam have to rest from? He was in paradise! So it will be in the future.

This is an exercise in contradictions.

Now, we have but three choices:
1) Revelation is wrong. If the Sabbath is eternal because God is eternal, then day and night must also be eternal because the Sabbath needs them. So, you get an eternal Sabbath at the cost of Revelation being wrong.
2) The Sabbath is not a moral law. If all moral laws are eternal, and the Sabbath has a beginning and an end, then the Sabbath is not a moral law. Because day and night had a beginning and will have an end, we cannot say the Sabbath is eternal. If all moral laws are eternal then the Sabbath cannot be a moral law.
3) The Sabbath is redefined contrary to the law and reason into something utterly unlike what we read in the law. Some people do this in order to claim the Sabbath exists outside of time (e.g., "angels keep the Sabbath" - proof please). That's not what the law says, though. We are talking about the law.

Take your pick.


Maybe by this point you are thinking, perhaps the national and ceremonial laws aren't eternal but the moral law has to be. Supposedly the moral law flows naturally from God's own moral nature, therefore the moral law is eternal because God's moral nature is unchanging. Then why not say that? Why not claim "the moral law" instead of "the law"?

I'll tell you why. People do not make this argument to get others to stop murdering or coveting. What they want is to justify the non-moral laws on their cherry-picked list, like tithing, meats laws, holy days, and the weekly Sabbath.

Let's ask that tough question, though. Is the moral law eternal?

What about the law against adultery?
That's a law everyone can agree is a moral law. How could that exist before there was marriage? In the future, no one will marry (MAT. 22: 30). The law about adultery does not exist if marriage does not exist. Just like the Sabbath without days.
The moral law prohibiting adultery is not eternal.

What about the law against murder?
How can the law against murder exist before humans could die, or continue on after all humans are immortal? All humanity will eventually be immortal (I COR. 15: 26). The law about murder does not exist if mortality does not exist.
The moral law prohibiting murder is not eternal.

What about the law against covetousness?
How can the law against covetousness exist after the fullness of the Kingdom has come, and we have fully received the inheritance we are promised in Jesus, and we are fully possessors of all things? How do we covet what is already ours? In the future there will be no such thing as limited resources. Everyone will have more than plenty, and then some. The law about covetousness does not exist if limited resources does not exist.
The moral law prohibiting covetousness is not eternal.

What about the law against idolatry?
How can the law against idolatry exist after everyone lives in the direct presence of the true and living God? Who among us, when we live in the fullness of the Kingdom of God, would ever, ever turn back to worshiping anything less? It's absurd! The law against idolatry does not exist if the worship of other gods/things/etc does not exist.
The moral law prohibiting idolatry is not eternal. This one has the best chance of being eternal, but it seems somewhat childish to me to presume perfected beings will need a law.

"But those acts are still wrong even if they are impossible to commit," someone is no doubt saying right now. That's like saying it's a sin to kill a dinosaur. There are no dinosaurs, but it's still a sin to kill one. Makes sense? No. And here we go, back to myriads of unknown laws governing things that do not and might never exist.

"The law is eternal..." STOP! No, it isn't. Not even the moral laws are eternal.
Turns out eternality is not an attribute of moral law and this claim never mattered in the first place. This entire argument is a pointless exercise in futility, and a distraction.

This is a problem some people solve by leaving it obscure and refusing to deal with it. Somewhat reminds me of the situation in my last post, "Willful Ignorance". It is easier to bury the head or to make sweeping generalities than to investigate it and realize you've invested so much of your time, energy, and money in a mistake.


Now that I feel we've examined plenty of evidence against the eternality of the law - where is the evidence supporting this claim? Where is the proof it is eternal?

In the "Willful Ignorance" post, I complained about a person who was demanding a proof text so he could avoid studying a topic that threatened his preferred interpretations of scripture. Here today, I am demanding some kind of evidence, but not so I can avoid the evidence, rather because I would like some and cannot find any. Show me a proof text that the law necessarily emanates directly from God. Show me the proof that the law existed eternally in the past, or will exist eternally in the future.

There is none. This is what we call a baseless assertion. Something is just said to be true and that's that.

It only makes sense that the ones making the claim should prove their claim.


If the law is not eternal, and does not proceed from God necessarily as if to say "God, therefore law", then where does the law come from? This is a critical piece of understanding for you. Critical!

>>>>>     It isn't God therefore law, it's Covenant therefore law.     <<<<<

The law is not an attribute of God, as if to say the law exists because of God's nature. Also, the law does not exist as an entity all on its own. People get caught up partly because the body of law was given a name and is called Torah. Torah is not some thing that exists all on its own apart from anything else. God did not come down to Sinai to give Moses two tablets, then went away for a bit, and returned later on with a covenant to keep those laws. No. He came to Sinai and gave the Covenant ...which consists of the laws, and the blessings and the cursings.

If you want more on why the Ten Commandments are the Old Covenant, read our article "If You Love Me, Keep My Commandments".

In Armstrongism, people regularly take a verse out of its context, create a whole new context for it, then hold it up as proof of their point. We call this "proof texting. The law has a context, too. That context is the Old Covenant. The law is not an attribute of God but of the Old Covenant.
It is wrong to extract the law from its proper context then invent a whole new context for it. "Here ya go! I've taken the law out of the Covenant, and now it stands all on its own and it's eternal and it's binding on everyone. Yay!" No. That's not how this works.

The Old Covenant law only exists within the bounds of the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant is the framework within which the law exists, along with blessings for keeping them and curses for breaking them. The Covenant is what makes it binding. We cannot just extract the law from its context, give it a whole new context (like it stands all on its own), and then proclaim what a wonderful thing we've done. Doing that might it look like we've gained ourselves a Sabbath day, but in reality it butchers the narrative and dissolves the law. It's the doctrinal version of proof texting.

And what does Paul say about the Covenant?

(HEB. 8: 13) In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

And so it is.

So, I say once again, it isn't God therefore law, it's Covenant therefore law.


I would leave it at that, but I know there's someone reading this who is still bothered by something. Something is still irritating the back of their mind. You are bothered by the relation between God's morality and our responsibility to behave appropriately, and how that correlates to moral law. So, I want to finish up by fleshing out this moral law thing a little bit more. I think it deserves the attention.

God is a god of goodness. Not all things are goodness. There is good and there is evil. Anyone who is on "team God" agrees to behave in a manner consistent with God's morally good nature. We call this morality.

One side says the moral law must remain because God's nature is moral and the law is the expression of that morality. This is why some people say the law is eternal. They are trying to explain this relationship between God's morally good nature and our obligations to behave in a morally good manner. They believe law, specifically the Old Covenant law, is the only way that morality can be expressed.
The other side (including me) says the Old Covenant law was but now is no longer the expression of that morality, and the Covenant is gone along with all its laws ...yet morality remains.

How? How can you remove the law that says "you shall not murder" and yet murder remains wrong?? How can there be morality but not be a specific moral law??? Does not compute!

Remember in the article "What Use Is The Old Law?" when we saw how sin existed before the law? 

(ROM. 5: 13-14a) For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses...

Sin exists apart from the law. The law did not create or define sin, it only gave a knowledge of sin.

Just like sin, righteousness also exists apart from the law.

(ROM. 3: 21) But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law

The very idea that the moral law is necessary for morality is contradicted here. Furthermore, Paul openly says the law is not where righteousness comes from.

(GAL. 2: 21) I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.

Sin doesn't come from the moral law, AND righteousness doesn't come from the moral law? How?? To be as blunt as I can - the law is not the essential component that many people think it is.

God doesn't need law to be good. That's obvious! Goodness is simply one of His attributes. He is goodness. But if God can do it without law, then law is not this essential thing people assume it to be. There is something greater than the moral law, something that does emanate directly from God's nature: love.

(I JON. 4: 8) He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

You must divorce both sin and righteousness from the Old Covenant law. Laws are not the only way to achieve moral goodness. You can tap directly into God's nature.

It's not like the ones who insist on the moral law are completely wrong. The moral law was good. It was a reflection of morality. There are definite similarities between the Old and New Covenants. But the Old Covenant law was only meant to be for a certain people in a certain place for a certain time until a certain goal could be achieved, and that goal was the first coming of Jesus Christ (GAL. 3: 19, 25).

The problem is people put all of their eggs in the basket of law when there is a better basket. The Ten Commandments aren't the only way to define morality. The entire moral law in the Old Covenant isn't the only way to define morality. Can they help? Sure! But they aren't essential. There is another way. The moral laws of the Old Covenant were replaced by something even older, even greater, even more foundational. What came after them is what came before them. The new law is the oldest law. Specifically, the Royal Law of Love.

(ROM. 13: 8) Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
(ROM. 13: 10) Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
(JAS. 2: 8) If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well
(I JON. 4: 21) And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

We are not called to lists of laws, but to liberty. Even so, morality remains.

(GAL. 5: 13-14) 13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

When Paul says, "the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law" THIS is what he means. He means the law witnessed to love. (MAR. 12: 29-31)

Is "love" as specific as we would like it to be? No. We like instructions, details, particulars. Finding few in the New Testament, we start digging in the Old Covenant, and there we stumble if we aren't careful, not understanding covenants. Please read our article "What Use Is The Old Law?"

So, how then do we know what to do? We grow up and no longer need the school master, that's how. We walk by faith. We follow the Holy Spirit.

(ROM. 7: 6) But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
(GAL. 5: 16) I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

All this talk about getting to the more foundational principle of love means the law is not the eternal, essential component it is claimed to be.

If you really want to burn your biscuits, read our articles on how our righteousness before God does not come from obeying the New Covenant laws, either. Our righteousness comes from our participation in Jesus Christ by faith. It is His righteousness imputed to us that makes us righteous before God. We are considered righteous because He is righteous, and He is in us. Any obedience to the royal law of love is merely a result of our relationship with God, not some cause of it.
I suggest you read Martha's article "Abraham's Faith and Works - or Faith and Parachutes, Part 3". She knocks this idea out of the park.

But that is too much for this already lengthy article. I leave you with what I've already said.


"God is eternal, therefore the law is eternal," is illogical and incorrect. God is not the law, and the law is not God. Righteousness does not come from the law.

The laws of the Old Covenant, good as they were, are not mandatory results of God's nature, as if to say "God therefore Old Covenant law". The moral law does not exist as necessary extensions of God's nature. Sin and righteousness exist apart from the law. So, we cannot say that just because God is eternal, or even God's nature is moral eternally, therefore the law is eternal. It does not follow.

The assertion is baseless. No evidence is given for why the law is eternal, it is just an empty claim people make.

I have shown how the law cannot have existed eternally in the past, and cannot exist eternally into the future, therefore the law is not eternal. The premise being false means the conclusion is false.

Every single Old Covenant law, whether ceremonial, national, or moral, was a term of that covenant. When that Old Covenant ended, all of its terms were dissolved. We are now under a New Covenant, with new terms. We are called to liberty, but not to vice.

What, then, defines righteousness if not the moral law? The answer is faith, love, and our relationship with God in-dwelling. God is not law, God is love.

Love finds its expression in good works. We were made for this! But these are results of our relationship with God. They are results of righteousness, not causes of it. All of this is apart from law. 

You probably need an ice pack on your head after this post. I can relate. None of this made sense to me at first, either. It is supremely difficult for a person conditioned to thinking in terms of law to stop that and think in terms of faith. I really do recommend you read Martha's series. It will help.

I leave you with a prayer. I pray that God helps you to understand, after prayerful consideration. God bless you.

[Also see Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart V]


It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )

Acts 17:11


Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Willful Ignorance

I have a little rant to go on today. I don't usually do this, but something's gotten under my skin and I feel the need to express it.

You may have heard the saying, "Sincere, but sincerely mistaken." It gets tossed around like a ball in a backyard. We have disagreements and we claim the other person is wrong. It's natural. We believe what we believe because we sincerely believe it. I cannot imagine anyone would hold an opinion they know is wrong. At some point in this life, we are all wrong. We don't like it, and we like even less to admit it, but it's true. To be wise is to recognize this at all times and to forever double-check yourself. Wisdom takes council and learns. It doesn't blow in the wind of every opinion, but it learns. To learn is to correct oneself. Some people take their aversion to being wrong to an extreme, however. There are people who make their entire stand on their sense of being right. They stubbornly, and often willfully, refuse to look into other viewpoints and contrasting evidence. It is almost as if whatever their opinion is on a matter, that is God's opinion too. I go into this a little in the article My Opinion Is God's Truth.

But this time I've run into something I just need to write about so I can get it off my chest - one of the most blatant examples of willful ignorance I think I've ever seen.

I had a person just recently make the claim, "If you can't give me a verse, then your case doesn't exist." In other words, if you cannot find a verse or two that clearly states your entire case, then the entire case doesn't exist.
Were they right? No idea is valid if you cannot find an isolated verse to state that case?

At first it might sound reasonable. You should have Biblical evidence for your claims. I agree we should! Who would disagree with that? As Bereans Did is built on it. But when we look a little deeper at what is really being claimed - you need a proof text for any claim - then what at first sounds wise starts to reveal itself.

There are many things we each hold to be true that take far more than one or two verses to prove or disprove. The Bible has many verses!

For example, prove to me in one verse that the Messiah was to die and rise again.
Now, before you go off on Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 and Zechariah 12, remember you're building a case not providing single verses, but more importantly none of those chapters say the word Messiah. And before you throw Daniel 9: 24 at me, that is a single verse (well done on that), but it only mentions dying and doesn't say anything about rising.
We know now, after the fact, that Jesus is the Messiah, and Jesus did die and rise again, and these selections (plus many more) all foretold things Jesus would accomplish - but we cannot simply find one verse that sums it all up nicely. We have to put together a case from various evidence; a body of evidence. You in fact will not find most of what Jesus did being associated with the Messiah within the Old Testament. Some Jews complain about that. Thing is, they're technically right. That is because Jesus is far more than just the Messiah only. He is the Messiah ben David and the Messiah ben Joseph, also the son of man, the prince, the son of Adam, the son of David, the branch, the prophet Moses foretold, the suffering servant, the righteous sufferer, and etc. All of the imagery of all of those prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus. We are so used to Jesus being the Messiah that we lump it all together under the term Messiah, but there was a lot more than Messiah going on there. You will not get the full picture of what Jesus was to accomplish simply by looking at verses about the Messiah, let alone a single verse only.

How do you know this? You study. Hopefully you listen to others who have already done most of the heavy lifting for you. How do you demonstrate this? You build a case. How would you convince a non-Christian of this? Not through proof-texting!

So, were they right that no idea is valid if you cannot find a proof text to state that case?
Of course not.

What sounded reasonable at first now reveals itself as passive aggressive. What sounded like a request for evidence turns out to be quite the opposite. It was nothing more than a means to remain willfully ignorant. Not a request for evidence, but a demand there can be none at all.

If you still suspect I might be misunderstanding the person, you should know I left some context out. I told the person about a point of history and I suggested they research it. I even gave the person some information and links to get them started in the right direction. They refused, and said they didn't want to study into it. When I questioned why they wouldn't want to study a topic, they demanded I provide a verse or the case doesn't exist.

Perhaps you are wondering what the topic was. It was the Godhead in the Old Testament. Prove that case in a single verse. It can't be done. Which is why I pointed them to evidence. Which is why they balked.

Now can you see how the demand for a verse was really just a way to remain willfully ignorant? They didn't want to read. They didn't want to study. They didn't want to challenge themselves. They didn't want to learn. In their mind, if they refused to look at the evidence then the evidence doesn't exist.

This all reminded me of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal. If you can't see it, it assumes it can't see you. Anyone here a fan of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? No?
Moving on.

My point is refusing to look at evidence does not mean there is no evidence. It isn't bold and courageous. Refusing to look does not magically erase information. Evidence exists or not regardless of whether we look at it or not. The only way to be sure it doesn't exist .. is to look.

That person simply loved their own opinion more than the truth. They were right, and everyone who wrote entire books to the contrary were all wrong, and that is that. The possibility of large quantities of information they had not considered was threatening and scary. What if they might be wrong? The implications could cause major alterations to their viewpoint. As I said earlier, people do not believe things they know are wrong. Their solution was simply to refuse to look at anything that challenges them. Problem solved! And that, my friends, is the textbook definition of willful ignorance.

If you really aren't interested in something, or if you really don't want to study, then don't. Nobody's forcing you. But if you're going to avoid an education, don't run your mouth like you know what you're talking about. There should be some kind of humility that comes with knowing you aren't informed. Yet, there wasn't.

Dear reader, please don't be like that person.

If you are, then you're really going to dislike us here. In our Welcome To ABD sidebar, we say, "As Bereans Did is a blog dedicated to a deeper investigation of the claims and doctrines of the Church of God movement." And so we are. Because how can we know who is right and who is wrong if we do not boldly investigate all of the facts on both sides, pray about it, and adjust ourselves? We cannot!
The authors here have each come from Armstrongism. We spent decades there. Some of us were teachers of that system. We know what the Church of God splinters teach. We made the scary decision to look at the the other evidence. We've lived both sides. Now, we compare and contrast so more people can do what we did, only easier.

In my post Escaping Armstrongism - Part I, I wrote it was giving myself permission to question and to be wrong that turned my life around.

What that person wanted from me was what they had been trained to expect: a proof-text. In Armstrongism, the conclusion comes before the evidence. They get that from their SDA roots. Proof-texting is established practice. In Armstrongism, what is often done is the proof-text is ripped it out of its context, an entirely new context is crafted for it, then it is plugged it back in and showcased as if it is proof positive for an entire line of thinking. That, and mis-using Strong's Concordance to improperly change the definitions of words. Bible doesn't say what you want? Change it! Strong's even tells you how to use it right up front, but the instructions are ignored. I could lay this utter failure to teach people how to study their Bibles at the feet of many churches.

Sadly, the way some people "look for evidence" could easily be the direct opposite of looking. It reminds me of the people who assert, "Jesus never said He was God." Not with the phrase they demand, no. But with other phrases, He absolutely did. And with a life that fulfilled the many prophecies I mentioned earlier, and with many displays of authority. He did many things only God does - for example, forgive. It was Jesus' way to avoid saying things directly, but to do signs and works. Even the Jews knew what Jesus was doing (JON. 10: 22-33). With all that weight of evidence and the cloud of witnesses, you would think people would just drop the argument. But no. They've found one phrase Jesus didn't say and they demand that is the one phrase Jesus must say. Their demands for evidence are in fact demands for ignorance. Willful ignorance.

Dear reader, please don't be like these people.

Read. Investigate. Pray.
The truth can take care of itself.


It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )

Acts 17:11


Thursday, June 13, 2024

T Is For Yaweh, That's Good Enough For Me

(EZE. 9: 3-4) 3 Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side; 4 and the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”

Have you ever noticed these verses? I know you've read them and had them read to you, but have you ever stopped to contemplate them? There is a very interesting idea in there.

For a little background, the time is the 590s BC. Some say it was 592, specifically. The northern kingdom of Israel were already taken into captivity by Assyria some 130 years prior. Replaced by other peoples (II Kings 17: 24). It is the period between the the second and the third waves of invasion by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. The first came in 605 and the second in 597. Babylon had invaded the southern kingdom of Judah and carted away many people, set up a puppet government, and was treating it as a vassal state of the empire. Ezekiel was among those removed in the second wave. He is in Babylon. He was called by God to preach against Judah and warn them of more captivity, mainly due to their idolatry. Nebuchadnezzar would come again (in 588), this time to utterly destroy Jerusalem.

The cultural upheavals had their impact on all facets of Jewish life. Nothing remained as it had been. Everything was heavily influenced by foreign powers - even the Temple. Over a century of influence of foreign nations in the territory of Israel had born fruit. You can read in II Kings 17 how the foreign peoples Assyria carted into Israel brought their religions with them. That influence crept south and seeped into Judah. Read in Ezekiel 8 how even the Temple and the priesthood were given almost entirely over to idolatry. They had mixed worship of God with worship of foreign gods. Ezekiel 8 is a vision, and imagery was likely exaggerated to make a point, but the point is none the less completely valid. Idolatry pervaded into every facet of Judah - an idolatry even greater than that of northern Israel.

Now put yourself in the shoes of a standard Judahite. You've survived the first and second waves of captivity, you're still at home, and even though things could be much better, you've missed the worst of it. Despite all that has happened and is happening, you might even mistake this as a sign you are favored by God.
But are you?

Ezekiel was a priest. He knew the Temple. He knew what went on there. The visions might have shown him the depth of the problem was even worse than he realized, but he didn't need them to know what was going on. He didn't need a weatherman to tell him it was raining. Yet, he was carted away to Babylon. As were others, like Daniel. Good people whose lives were uprooted through no direct fault of their own. Is it true the good stayed and the wicked were deported?

This might even be another of those turnabouts and juxtapositions that God enjoys so much. The captive, thought to be taken because he displeased God, preached to the remnant, thought to remain because they pleased God.

When I look around the world today, I feel almost a personal connection to the conditions of that time. It must have been an incredibly confusing time. When even your priests are going astray, whom do you trust for the truth?

And here is where our verse comes in.

There were still people who looked around Jerusalem and didn't like what they saw. Men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done. Here, God marks them all, to identify and separate them. "Put a mark on the foreheads," it says. Their lives would yet be overturned, like dirt in a plowed field. There was a long siege coming but at least they wouldn't be allowed to be killed. They would be spared the worst of it.

What was that mark? The Hebrew word holds a clue.

Strong's 8420: tav/taw
From H8427; a mark; by implication a signature: - desire, mark.

It was a signature. It wasn't just a blotch, nor a splat. But a representation of a name. God wrote His name on those people's foreheads. This is precisely the same as in Revelation (see Revelation 14; 1). Entirely the same.

But Strong's 8420 isn't "signature", it's taw/tav. It is a signature, and comes from the word for signature, but it isn't written-out name. It was a mark that stood in place of a name. The mark was a taw/tav. What is taw/tav, then? Why, taw is a Hebrew letter!

The signature wasn't a full name, it was just a single letter. A "put your mark on the line" sort of a signature, like the kind you might have expected in an old Western movie.

"Write your name on this line, pardner."
"Can't. Don't know how to read and write, or spell my name."
"Make your mark, then."

What does a taw look like? It looks like this:


Is that the mark people received from God?

There is a detail of timing we need to be mindful of. That letter you see is modern Hebrew. The Hebrew alphabet used today was not developed until centuries after the Babylonian captivity. Ezekiel is still in the midst of the Babylonian captivity. In Ezekiel's day, they still used the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet. What does a taw look like in paleo-Hebrew?

The oldest extant example of Paleo-Hebrew writing we have is the Siloam Inscription. It details the construction of the Siloam Tunnel. It predates Ezekiel. The original is difficult to read, so I am providing you an example of a drawing.

Do you see that X almost in the dead center? I circled it in red and put a red arrow pointing to it. (Apologies if you have trouble seeing red.) That right there is a taw. X marks the spot!
(For some fun, there are three more in that screenshot. See if you can find them.)

I bet you thought this was going to be something cooler than an X shape. Maybe a spaceship shape, or a dinosaur, or a Fibonacci Sequence, or something truly interesting. No. Just an X.

But ... (there's always a but)
If you went back in time just a bit more, back to the earlier alphabet styles like what Moses might have used, then you will get a shape that looks precisely what we think of as a traditional cross shape.
Yes, THAT cross. The cross of Christ.

Whether an X or a T a + or a cross, the mark God puts on foreheads is cruciform, regardless. Anything with two intersecting lines is called "cruciform" because it resembles a crucifix. All these years we've been told by reliably inaccurate Church of God "historians" that anything cruciform was a symbol of Tammuz, and idolatrous. You know, the same Tammuz the women at the Temple were weeping for one chapter earlier, in Ezekiel 8: 14. Only, as usual, that is incorrect. Is God writing Tammuz on their foreheads? No! The Bible tells us God Himself uses the taw's + or X shape. If it's good enough for God, it's good enough for me!

Now, before some of you get too excited about this, the taw was not a representation specifically of God's name to the exclusion of all others. Anyone could sign with a taw. It was common. Common enough that no explanation was needed when God gave the command to mark people with a taw. It was assumed readers would just know what was going on. That said, God still did it and accepted it as His own mark.

If you're wondering how the taw went from a cruciform shape to the modern Hebrew shape that looks more like an n, the answer is there was another alphabet in between the Paleo-Hebrew and the Modern Hebrew. That alphabet is the Imperial Aramaic. When the Israelites returned from captivity, they replaced most Hebrew with Aramaic. In Aramaic, the tau has more of an n shape. Modern Hebrew is a modern block Aramaic.

Funny thing is, if you go back in time with the Aramaic script, the tau is also a cross. Yes, THAT cross. It looks like a t became a carat ^ which became an n.
Same with the Greek. That's where we get our T from. Did you catch the similarity between taw, tau, and T? It's not just your imagination. They really are related. All the alphabets in that area of the Mediterranean developed from related scripts. All of them will be similar in certain ways. This is one of those ways.

So, for all those people who look at those silly Catholics after Ash Wednesday mass and think, "Those pagan people go around with Tammuz on their forehead," you might want to forbear that statement until you have discovered what the taw is. You might find that the mark God puts on foreheads is identical, or at least in certain time periods quite similar indeed. Regardless, I hope He puts His taw on you, too.


It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )

Acts 17:11


Friday, June 7, 2024

The Gospel and the Powers In Heavenly Places

(EPH. 3: 9-11) ... 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord...

Have you ever noticed these verses? I know you've read them and had them read to you, but have you ever stopped to contemplate them? There are some very deep, very strange ideas in there.

What do you see in that verse there? There are (at least) three very important points:
1) Something was hidden from the very beginning.
2) It is now being revealed by the church to the "principalities and powers in the heavenly places".
3) It has to do with what Jesus accomplished.

VERY deep stuff there.

How often have you heard messages about this? God has sent the church to deliver a message about what Jesus has done not necessarily to the world (only) but to some vague spiritual authorities. Not often, I'd wager.

What do you not see there?
The law.

You can imagine these verses to be speaking about a range of things, but among the least likely is the Old Covenant law.

Was the law hidden? No. The law was a lot of things but hidden is not one of them. So the thing hidden was not the law.
Was the law being revealed? No. It was never hidden, so it was not being revealed by the church. One thing Armstrongism has stressed over the years in order to maintain its own sense of election is that the law is only revealed to those who have the Holy Spirit in-dwelling. If the law is being revealed to those outside the church, that claim would have to be false.
Was the law what Jesus accomplished? Jesus did fulfill the law! Of these three points, the law only seems to fit here. That would be fine if this point stood alone, but it does not. Taken all together, the law only fits 1/3 of the equation. So, it is not a good fit after all.
Just look at the target audience - spiritual authorities. Are spirit beings going to be surprised by a weekly Sabbath? "Curses! Foiled again by doing nothing for one in seven days! Why didn't we see this coming? If only there had been like a Decalogue or something." No. The law is not a good fit.

If the law is the least likely, what is the most likely to fit all three?
The Gospel.


I need to briefly remind you of the Gospel.

If you are not from an Armstrongist background, you might be wondering why I am about to explain the Gospel. The answer is because what Mainstream Christianity understands the Gospel to be is not what Armstrongism understands the Gospel to be.

As a rapid summary, Armstrongism believes the Gospel to be about the coming Kingdom of God and how those who follow Herbert Armstrong's message of Old Covenant law-keeping will be promoted to rulers in the Millennial period. They teach the Gospel is not about Jesus Christ or His accomplishments or the salvation by faith. Now, many will say that's a grossly oversimplified summary. Granted. It is. But it is nonetheless accurate, and this post is not about what Armstrongism believes the Gospel to be. I am only mentioning this at all to show the contrast.

If one were to ask us at ABD how we would summarize the Gospel, we would say it is thus:

“Jesus was a literal man as well as literally God. The second person of the godhead became a man, lived to fulfill the law and the prophets, died as a propitiation for our sins, and was resurrected in fulfillment of scripture on the third day. This was planned before the foundation of the world. His death destroyed the Old Covenant and ratified the New Covenant. He now lives in Heaven as the executor of the promises of God towards us, the undeserving beneficiaries. Man was hopelessly condemned to death, and the Gentiles disinherited from any participation with God and given over to the rule of idolatrous gods. Israel was called as a means to bring the Messiah into the world. Jesus the Messiah paid the ransom in full to redeem mankind from death and idolatrous gods, to tear down all that separates Jew from Gentile, fulfill God's justice, to offer God's mercy and grace, and to finish the work of salvation. The Gentiles are at long last again invited to participate with God. By humble faith in Jesus Christ, a Christian receives absolute forgiveness of sin as well as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and with the Holy Spirit comes participation in the body of Christ, and with participation in Christ comes inheritance with Christ in such things as the promise God made to Abraham. The proof of the Spirit's involvement is fruitful Christian growth throughout our lifetime; we will never come near to perfection in this flesh. Therefore, salvation is absolutely guaranteed - for the faithful who remain in faith - by the life, death, and life of Jesus Christ our Savior, and nothing besides. It is by promise, not by law. This is God's good pleasure. Glory to God!”

Do you see how that fits better than law? That Gospel message was hidden but not impossible to find, it was revealed by Jesus, and it is an affront to the powers. And that's what Paul leads with in Ephesians 3.

We have a lot more detail on the Gospel at the very top of our FAQ page.


I needed to briefly review the Gospel so I could review the Great Commission.

The Great Commission, which most people recognize, is:

(MAT. 28: 18-20) 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Armstrong taught "observe all things that I have commanded you" is a reference to the Old Covenant law. I disagree. But that's beside the point. I want to focus on something else. Once again, there is something hidden here. It is hidden in plain sight, and it goes hand-in-hand with Ephesians 3.

Note how it starts with a declaration of Jesus' authority. Why? Because, precisely as Paul says in Ephesians 3: 10, one of the purposes of all this is for the church to proclaim a message to the principalities and powers in heavenly places. It is not just God's wisdom, it's not just His accomplishments on the cross, it's not just the gift to mankind, but His intent and His authority to accomplish His intent.

To say this as plainly as I can --
God disinherited the Gentiles after Babylon, giving them over to idolatry and demons. Israel alone was kept by God as His people (DEU. 32: 9). With Jesus, the Gentiles are now reclaimed by God, taking them away from idolatry and demons. That message to be delivered is, to take a phrase from the television show The Apprentice, "You're fired!" The church by its very nature proclaims this message to those powers.

So, when I say the Gospel fits all three, I hope you can now see why I say that.

The commission Jesus gave to the Apostles was to get the ball rolling. The time of the powers is over. Go into the world and win people back to God away from the powers in heavenly places that oppress them. And the Apostles would call disciples to join themselves to the Body of Christ, and they would call others, and so on and so forth until this very day.

When Jesus was here, He took the Apostles to the temple of Pan at Caesarea Phillipi and that is where He purposefully initiated a conversation that led to Peter confessing He is the Son of God, and where He predicted His death and resurrection, and where He told them to follow Him (MAT. 16). This is yet another summary of the points Paul made.
This was all done for an important reason. He stood at a temple of the powers and proclaimed His identity, His authority, and His mission right in front of them. He declared war. The powers were about to be replaced and their people taken from them. And from this point on, His ministry was headed full-steam to the cross.

In the same way, Jews from areas controlled by these powers were preached to by Peter on that first Pentecost. In the same way, Paul was sent to areas controlled by these powers. These were all the same areas mentioned in Genesis 10, which we call "the table of nations."

Do you see how it all fits? All was for a reason. All had a purpose. All the biblical narrative flows. God is working in stages to restore Eden.


The law, which was introduced to guard Israel during that period between Abraham and Jesus, was never intended to reclaim the Gentiles. The Old Covenant and its law specifically excludes the Gentiles. It cannot be the message spoken of here. It was only intended to guard Israel until their destiny could be realized (GAL. 3: 19). The law is not the message to the powers in heavenly places that their reign over the Gentiles has ended. The church being joined to Jesus in faith is.

God called Abraham shortly after the Babylon event. He called a Gentile first to be the father of Israel and later to be the father of all the faithful. Israel, as rebellious as it often was, is owed a debt of gratitude by all Gentiles for the purpose they ultimately fulfilled despite themselves - the coming of the Messiah. The Messiah had come and the usefulness of the Old Covenant was depleted. The New Covenant was instituted. (Read all of Galatians 3.) The breach at Babylon is healed, the Gentiles are no longer disinherited, and God is taking back what is rightfully His.

This was always the plan. It was a hidden plan.

(I COR. 2: 6-8) 6 However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

The law we knew. It excluded us and killed us. The Gospel, on the other hand, we did not know. It welcomes us and gives us life.


Did you know you are to give a message to powers in heavenly places? You do now!

This message is one the powers will not appreciate receiving - Jesus is Lord and He is taking back what is His.

This is a post about the Old Covenant law and the Gospel, and how the message of Christianity is not about Sabbath-days and meats. The Gospel really is about Jesus Christ after all, and our participation with Him in faith.

The base message of Armstrongism is primarily in two parts: the Old Covenant law, and the second coming of Christ. In this view, from the days of the Apostles until the second coming, the church is a tiny and insular group that practically hides form the world. Its main message is to sit around once a week avoiding pork and making sure "Church of God" is somewhere in your group's name. How is this of value given what we read in Ephesians 3?
It isn't. Only the Gospel explains what we read in Ephesians 3.

Once again, we find what Herbert Armstrong taught is off the mark.

Now, don't hate me for this, but I intentionally left this post a little vague. I am not going deep into explaining these things. I am not reviewing the details of how God's intent was hidden in plain sight from Abraham's day. I am not telling you who these powers are. I am not explaining why Jesus had all authority at his resurrection but to this very moment we still we see these powers are active in the world. I am not touching on the second coming and what ultimately is the end of these powers. I do this for a reason. I hope to whet your appetite to explore this line of thinking more deeply on your own.

This is a gigantic topic, dear reader. If you want to explore it you might want to be ready for a wild ride. Take my word for it!

God bless you and keep you.


It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )

Acts 17:11