One of the biggest hurdles to overcome in understanding the sanctuary is the new theology on interpreting the new covenant. For the last 20 or so years this "new covenant" theology has infiltrated and undermined truth.

This "new covenant theology maintains that somehow God has two different plans of salvation. One for Israel and another for Christians. Somehow the people of the old testament were under a covenant that required them to work their way to heaven by keeping the commandments. Finally, after hundreds of years, God figured out that this won't work, so now He came up with a totally different plan, called the new covenant, where He'll take anyone to heaven if they just believe Christ gave them the ticket to be admitted. Under the new covenant the commandments are supposedly no longer of any binding nature upon the Christian. The old covenant, so they say, required people to obey if they wanted to be counted as God's people. They had to earn God's favor. Thus the old covenant is defined as being built on the ten commandments and obedience, but the new covenant is built on love and grace.

Personally I can not accept this theology! Would God really expect people for 4000 years to do the impossible? And then punish them because they failed? I heard one man say, "In the Old Testament there was no mercy, they either obeyed or they were lost." I went home and looked up the word mercy in the old testament, and it was all over the place! Others don't go quite that far, but they still hold to the theory that Israel was saved by keeping the ten commandments. In simple words, they say in the Old covenant the plan was "obey and live" in the new covenant the plan is "believe and live".

Yes, there is a "new covenant", but are the distinctions between the "old" and the "new" two radically different ways of salvation? How can we believe this? Two plans of salvation— the old covenant a plan of works, the new covenant a plan of grace?

How were the Israelites saved?
They were saved in the same way we are today— by the blood of Christ!!!! Did their sacrificial system save them? NO. Did the keeping of the commandments save them? NO. The commandments were given to point out sin, and they still point out sin. (Romans 7:7) The sacrificial system was given them to understand that sin causes death, and that Christ would someday die for them. It taught them a substitute would be provided. Their faith was in promises yet to be fulfilled, our faith rests on the more sure evidence of promises already fulfilled.

The whole earthly sanctuary served only one purpose — to point people to Christ's sacrifice and ministry, and that through Him they could be justified and sanctified. The purpose of the sanctuary doctrine is to do precisely the same thing.

The keeping of God's law is just as important now as it was then. Will a Christian living under grace, no longer condemned by the law, continue in sin, which is the transgression of God's law? Paul says emphatically, "God forbid!" (Romans 6:1,15)

A New Covenant believer responded:
"You mentioned that we seem to be coming at this from diametrically opposed viewpoints. . .you hit the nail on the head with the observations on the two covenants. As it turns out, many of us who are labeled "liberals" have come to believe in two covenants, with two ways to salvation; two different treatments of law; two different schemas of eschatology. It may surprise you to know this, but millions of Christians in many different fellowships around the world accept that there are two, radically different covenants, I don't have the time this morning to start you down that particular trail, but I'm glad you made the observation."

I realize most other Christians believe in dispensationalism and radically different covenants. I've also had people try to lead me down that particular trail before. I know where it leads. That trail leads right out of Adventism and straight into the realm of the false prophet and the beast as described in Revelation. That's why "Conservatives" get upset when they hear it taught in the Adventist church! Our commission is to call honest people out of that popular system, not join it. Rev. 18.4 "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."

This "new covenant theology" trashes everything that Revelation describes as belonging to God's remnant at the close of earth's history. Look again at the characteristics of God's people who do not suffer eternal destruction as found in Revelation.

Rev 12:17 the remnant --keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus which
Rev. 19:10 says is the spirit of prophecy.

Rev. 14:12 Contrasts those who receive the mark of the beast with the saints who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus.

Rev. 7:14 States the saved are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Rev. 19:20 States they will be clothed in fine linen, clean and bright for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

Rev. 17:14 states that those on Christ's side will be those who are faithful.

There is much evidence that God's remnant are the few who have totally surrendered to Christ and obey His commandments. Yet the so called "new covenant theology" throws out the sanctuary doctrine (God's method for justification and sanctification of His people through the blood of Christ) of course it throws out Ellen White and with her goes a clear picture of what the "issues facing the SDA church in the new millennium" are really all about. It throws out the binding nature of the ten commandments and it trashes the Sabbath. It even throws out much of the spiritual value of the Old Testament and looks only to the New Testament. Even here it tends to focus mainly on the books of Paul, and even in the writings of Paul they are selective in avoiding the texts that admonish obedience to God's law.

Yet this new covenant theology is the popular concept in the Christian churches and is invading the Adventist church as well. So it is very, very important that we look at the root of this understanding — namely our understanding of the covenant.

Basically what the "new covenant theology" does is take texts from 2 Cor. 3:1-12, Gal. 3:15- 17 and Hebrews 8:7-13 where Paul is speaking of the new covenant replacing the old. They then link these texts with other texts like Exodus 34:28 where it says God wrote the words of the covenant, the ten commandments, on tables of stone. The conclusion they reach is that the old covenant was based on the 10 commandments, therefore the people were saved by keeping the commandments. Since the Old Covenant is done away with, therefore the 10 commandments are also done away with. People are now saved solely by grace and the only command still binding is the command to love.

What is wrong with this reasoning?

1. This reasoning is a direct challenge to the moral consistency of God's government. It is a direct challenge to God's authority and wisdom in defining moral consistency. It is basically an admission that God finally figured out that His law can't be kept so He has to save people without requiring them to accept His moral principles. This is blasphemy in my thinking.

As far as the "law of love" as interpreted by the "new covenant theology" it reduces our understanding of God's requirements to our own judgment of what constitutes love. It is a theology that ultimately makes each person a law unto himself and allows people to find excuse to do whatever is right in their own eyes. (Pr. 14:12) "here is a way which seems right to an individual, but the end of it are the ways of death." It is only through God's law that we come to know how to reflect God's love.

The ten commandments tell us how to express love for God and for others. The command to love comes from the O.T. and is the embodiment of the 10 commandments (Deut. 6:5 Lev. 19:8). Duet. 11.13 "And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul". . .then I will richly bless you. The command to love is nothing new! It is tied into keeping the commandments.

2. The reasoning of the "new covenant theology" fails to recognize the true meaning of a covenant with God, and what it means to be in a covenant relationship with God. It fails to see the covenant as God's commitment to save His people FROM sin, and bring them back into a relationship with Him. It fails to see God's emotional appeal throughout the O.T. as well as the NT, for His people to return to Him who alone can forgive and save.

Read the emotional appeal in Ezekiel 18.30-32 "Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live."

Over and over we see the covenant symbolized by the marriage relationship. The breaking of the covenant laws is not just a matter of disobedience, it is a matter of breaking a relationship. How does God want His people to relate to the covenant?

Jer. 50:5 They shall come, seeking the LORD their God. They shall ask the way to Zion , saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant. Jer. 31:33 God says "I will put my law in their minds and write them on their hearts and I will be their God and they shall be my people."

3. The reasoning of the "new covenant theology" totally distorts God's character as it attempts to describe His dealings with Israel. It maintains that Israel is saved by works, while Christians are saved by grace. Yet in the O.T. God is described as the DELIVERER. In fact the 10 commandments were introduced with the recognition that God delivered Israel from Egypt- implying that now He wants to deliver them from sin.

To Moses were given the 10 commandments in one hand and the provisions of grace (sanctuary directions) in the other hand. The difference between the two covenants was in the administration of God's covenant, not in the provisions and law of the covenants. The old covenant looked ahead to the cross through an earthly system of priests and sacrifices. The new covenant is far better in this respect as it is founded on the reality of Christ's death and the reality of His priesthood in heaven.

4. The N.T covenant. is built on the ten commandments as the standard for God's moral government in the same way the OT covenant was built on the ten commandments, thus for someone to interpret texts to say the law is done away with, is inconsistent with the rest of the Bible.

In Matthew 5 Christ explains the true meaning of the 10 commandments, he doesn't do away with them. Christ shows that love is manifested in obedience to God's laws. He clearly states this truth. John 14.15 "If you love me, keep my commandments." John 14.21 "He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him."

Paul is often quoted as proof that the law was done away with, yet an honest reading of his books clearly reveals that Paul rejects the law only as a method of works to merit salvation. He upholds the law as a standard for Christian conduct and as an indicator to reveal sin. He says "man is justified by faith apart from works of the law (Romans 3:28) then in Romans 7:7 he says we only know what sin is because we have the 10 commandments. In Romans 6 the whole chapter stresses the importance of obedience and putting away sin. And in Romans 13:8,9, he lists commandments as the guide to fulfilling love.

5. The "new covenant theology" is so intent on proving the differences between the old and new covenants that it totally fails to see the continuity between the two and how they are both phases of the everlasting covenant made in the beginning with fallen mankind.

What was the covenant? We see Adam and Eve cowering in the garden of Eden in fear, quilt and shame, already suffering from the results of their sin. God comes searching for them. That's part of God's covenant relationship, He comes searching, wanting to call the sinner back to a redeeming relationship.

Gen. 3:15 God gives His first announcement of His covenant: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." Here we already have the main ideas on how God wants to restore sinful man to a relationship with Himself. There is the promise of a coming Redeemer, who alone can bring salvation and offer justification and sanctification. God also offers success in living according to His will by promising to put enmity against the suggestions of Satan into our hearts.

Grace and obedience are evident all the way through God's dealings with sinful mankind. The law is central to all the covenants. It's the breaking of God's law that made covenants necessary in the first place. Adam and Eve sinned. Two angels with shining swords bar them from their heaven like home. That's what happens when we step outside of God's ways, we break are connection with Him. But then we see the ark of the covenant. No longer do the angels hold swords, they are intently looking down on the mercy seat, for a way has been opened for people to be saved and restored. Will they respond? The time will come when the mercy seat is removed, and the sword is drawn once again to end all sin.

The issues concerning the law revolves around whether we allow God to write them on our hearts or whether they are only an external code. Romans 2:29 points out our obedience must come from "the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter."

Psalms 37.31 "The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide." Psalms 40.8 "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yes, thy law is within my heart." Proverbs 3:1 "Forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:" Hebrews 8.10 "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:"

Yes, the ceremonial laws and rituals were done away with, their purpose in fore shadowing Christ's ministry was complete. The reality of Christ's sacrifice and ministry is exceedingly better than the symbolic ceremonies. But the bases of God's moral government has not changed. The standard, His commandments have not been replaced.

6. Finally what about the ark of the covenant which contains the 10 commandments? Is it annulled, passed away, along with the ten commandments it contains? Yet we see it again in the temple in heaven at the judgment, at the end of the world?

Look, there in Revelation 11.
First we see the same time period as revealed in Daniel 7 when there will be religious oppression for 1260 day/years. After this the judgment is announced. And immediately we see the ark of the covenant (which contains the ten commandments).

Rev. 11.3
And I will give power unto my two witnesses (O.T. and N.T.), and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

Rev. 11:16,18,19
And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones worshiped God, saying: The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged and that you should reward Your servants . . .and destroy those who destroy the earth. Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings.

The same thundering and lightning that was at Sinai, is now heard!

And what is in that ark of His covenant?
When the time to judge comes-- God opens the Most Holy Place in heaven where the ark of the covenant is--- And in that ark of the covenant-- under the mercy seat-- are THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.

I suggest we think long and hard before we follow the crowd in accepting this "new covenant theology".

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