Book: Beliefs and Doctrines of the New Testament Church

God’s Love Toward Us

The laws and commandments of God as revealed in both the Old Testament and the New Testament are a holy and perfect set of principles based on the love of God. God’s laws and commandments are designed to teach man how to love and worship God and how to love his neighbor. God has made known His laws and commandments to the world from the beginning and requires all mankind to keep them. The laws and commandments of God define what sin is, and where there is no law there is no sin. No one could be counted as a sinner, or under sin, if God did not require all the people of the world to keep His laws and commandments. The Scriptures show that God judges all nations according to their obedience or disobedience to His laws, bringing blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience or sin. Because of sin and wickedness in Noah’s time, God destroyed the world with the Flood. The men of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because they were sinners before God. The Ninevites were a Gentile nation not in covenant with God, but God warned them through His prophet Jonah of His impending judgment for their sins. The inhabitants of the land of Canaan were expelled because of their religious and sexual sins. The people of Israel, God’s chosen nation, also sinned grievously against God and were sent into captivity. Through sin and disobedience to God’s laws and commandments, the whole world has become guilty before Him. Generation after generation has yielded to the sinfulness of human nature and has utterly failed to meet even the minimum requirements of the letter of the law.

While God has always required mankind to keep His laws and commandments in the letter of the law, He desires that every human being learn to worship Him in the spirit of the law. The full spiritual intent of God’s laws is that each one learn to love God with all the heart, mind, soul, being and strength; and to love one’s neighbor as oneself. The Scriptures reveal that obedience to God’s laws in the spirit is a condition for receiving eternal life. Only through the gift of the Holy Spirit is this obedience made possible. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, each Christian can have the laws and commandments of God written in his or her heart and mind and can learn to walk daily in the spiritual obedience that God desires. The laws and commandments of God are not contrary to grace and faith but are truly established by faith. (See Righteousness, Faith and Grace.)

Scriptural References

Gen. 3:11-13; 4:7-11 Gen. 6:5-13; 15:16 Lev. 18:5
Jer. 18:7-10 Ez. 20:11, 13, 21 Prov. 4:4
Deut. 28:1-13 Deut. 4:1-13; 6:1-4 Gal. 3:11
Rom. 10:5 Rom. 3:9-22; 4:13-16 Rom. 2:11-13
Mat. 22:36-40 Psa. 19:1-7 Psa. 111:10
John 14:15-24 Psa. 119 I John 2:4-6
Mat. 4:4 Is. 42:21 I John 3:4
Mat. 5:17-20 I John 5:2-3 II Tim. 3:16
Heb. 8:10-12; 10:16-22 Rev. 22:14 Rev. 12:17; 14:12

The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments, spoken by God to Israel, are the foundation of all of God’s laws. They have been in effect from the beginning of mankind, over 3,000 years before their pronouncement at Mt. Sinai. Their written form is the summation of the spiritual laws which function at all times, whether a person is aware of them or not. Obedience to these commandments brings blessings, and disobedience brings curses. The Ten Commandments teach us how to express love toward God and our fellowman. They must be obeyed as a condition for receiving eternal life. (See Faith and Grace.)

Scriptural References

Ex. 20:1-17 Deut. 5:6-21 Deut. 30:15-20
Mat. 19:16-22 Rom. 7:7-14 Mat. 22:36-40
I John 3:22-24 Rom. 13:8-10 II John 6-10

The Weekly Sabbath

The weekly Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, known as Saturday today. In the beginning, the Sabbath was created by God. He blessed and sanctified the seventh day at creation as a special day for rest and fellowship with Him. The Sabbath is a memorial of creation and was made for all mankind. It was the commanded day of weekly worship for 3,000 years before the Ten Commandments were given to Israel. The Fourth Commandment is a reminder to observe and to keep the Sabbath day holy.

As Lord God of the Old Testament, Jesus Christ created the Sabbath by resting on the very first seventh day and by blessing and sanctifying it. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ proclaimed that He is Lord of the Sabbath day. During His ministry on earth, He reaffirmed the sacredness of the Sabbath and taught its proper observance. Jesus Christ Himself showed by example that it is right to do good on the Sabbath day, in addition to resting from one’s physical labor and secular business. The apostles of Jesus Christ and the early New Testament church observed the Sabbath and taught Gentile Christians to observe it.

The keeping of the seventh-day Sabbath is a special sign of the covenant between God and His people. God commands that it be observed from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. During this holy time, Christians are commanded to rest from their labor and to assemble to worship God and to receive instruction from His Word. Observance of the seventh-day Sabbath is essential for salvation and for true fellowship with God the Father and Jesus Christ.

Scriptural References

Gen. 2:1-3 Mark 2:27-28 Ex. 20:8-10
Ex. 31:13-17 Isa. 58:13-14 Isa. 56:1-7
Isa. 66:23 Ezek. 20:12, 20 Lev. 23:1-3
Luke 4:4 Acts 13:42-44 Acts 17:2
Acts 18:4, 11 Acts 19:8-10 Heb. 4:4-10

The Annual Feasts and Holy Days

The Scriptures teach that there are seven annual feasts and holy days, which were ordained by God to be observed as special commanded convocations. These feasts and holy days portray God’s plan of salvation for mankind. The observance of these holy convocations is a sign between God and His people. God’s annual feasts and holy days were observed by His people during Old Testament times. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ’s entire ministry was centered around the spiritual meaning of these holy days. The New Testament apostolic church faithfully observed these annual feasts and holy days. The Scriptures reveal that they will be observed by all mankind after the return of Jesus Christ.

As the holy days are annual Sabbath days, they may fall on any day of the week (except Pentecost, which always falls on a Sunday). When a holy day falls on a weekly Sabbath, the special observance of the annual holy day takes precedence. God’s feasts and holy days are to be observed from sunset to sunset in accordance with the calculated Hebrew Calendar as preserved by the Levitical Jews. The seven annual feasts and holy days are as follows:

Feast or Holy Day Commanded Scriptural Date of Observance
1) Passover 14th day of the first month*
2) Unleavened Bread (7 days)

15th through 21st days of the first month (the 15th & 21st are holy days)

3) Pentecost Counted annually**
4) Trumpets 1st day of the seventh month
5) Atonement 10th day of the seventh month
6) Tabernacles (7 days)

15th through 21st days of the seventh month (the 15th is a holy day)

7) Last Great Day

22nd day of the seventh month (a holy day)

*Not a holy day

**Fifty days are counted, beginning with the first day of the week during the Days of Unleavened Bread. The feast is observed on the fiftieth day, which always falls on the first day of the week.

Scriptural References

Lev. 23 Ex. 23:14-17; 31:13 Ex. 12:1-20
John 7:37 Mat. 26:17-18 I Cor. 5:7-8
Acts 2:1 Acts 18:21 Acts 20:16
I Cor. 16:8 Zech. 14:16-19 Isa. 66:23