Martin Luther nailed a paper to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517. On it were 95 points of contradiction he found between mainstream church doctrine at the time, and the Bible—focusing mostly on indulgences and the Pope’s overreach. Praise God for his faith to bring these issues to the attention of his neighbors and help spawn the Protestant Reformation—removing error to get closer to the truth of the Word.
In that vein, a believer near you taped a new list of contradictions within modern church doctrine to the door of your church. You can read them again here. The result of these contradictions is a moral code that moved from Sovereign and unchanging to relative; and a God who evolved from harsh and legalistic to gracious and accepting.
All contradictions on the list stem from one error: believing that because Jesus perfectly obeyed God's law, those same instructions for righteous living are no longer “for our good always” like God said they were when He gave them (Deuteronomy 6:24).
What about the blood? The curses? The sacrifices?
In short and in general: curses are for correction or for punishing those unwilling to be corrected. Sacrifices are physical ways of demonstrating a “broken and contrite” heart: true repentance. Sacrifices give something special of ours to God out of faith that He indeed exists, and that He’s gracious enough to offer a path to atonement. Jesus' blood is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. And we now offer spiritual sacrifices until He returns—prayer, praise, denying our flesh, thanksgiving—as Paul makes clear.
So while today’s Christians try sincerely to imitate Christ, we neglect five important things:
- Observing God’s chosen Sabbath and holidays, like Paul (1 Corinthians 5:8)
- Avoiding unclean meats, like Peter (Acts 10)
- Spurning pagan-inspired holidays that Paul condemned (Galatians 4:8-10)
- Wearing blue tassels, like Jesus (Matthew 9:20)
- Understanding our identity as part of Israel, God's family (Ephesians 2)
How did the church miss the truth in this pamphlet for 2,000 years? Luther likely asked, how did it believe in purgatory, and indulgences for 1,500 years? James may have asked, how could Paul have been so wrong until the road to Damascus? Because “man” isn’t perfect. What matters is biblical truth. And the truth is, Jesus and His apostles observed God’s law.
Here is a short apologetic defending the four points above:
Sunday is not the Sabbath that God established on creation week, which Jesus kept as He lived a sinless human life and which we are commanded to keep in the 4th commandment.
One of the key doctrinal elements of choosing Sunday as the “Lord’s Day” hinges on Jesus resurrecting on that morning. The Lord’s day appears only once in Scripture (Rev. 1:10) and there’s no evidence that it means Sunday rather than Saturday.
Yes, Jesus resurrected between Saturday sundown and Sunday sun up to fulfill the prophecy that He is the Firstfruits of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23). This is a set apart biblical observance given to believers by God: the day of Firstfruits, where the best of the first fruits of the harvest are brought and given to God, just as Christ was the first to resurrect. But having the audacity to change the Sabbath day, even if in honor of the resurrection, is the folly Jesus referred to when He accused the religious leaders of “making the word of God of no effect through your tradition,” (Mark 7:13). The tradition of Sunday worship is used to render the biblical Sabbath day of no effect.
“You can worship on any day”, some say, which makes all days the same. But God said all days are not the same. The seventh day is sanctified (Genesis 2:3) and holy (Exodus 20:8), blessed and hallowed (Exodus 20:11).
New Testament believers observed the Sabbath and prophesied its future observance:
- Jesus and His apostles and disciples observe the Sabbath: Luke 4:16, 6:6, 13:10, 23:56; Mark 1:21, 6:2.
- In Matthew 24:20, Jesus says, speaking of a future time after His death and resurrection: “Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath…” as if the observation of the command will still matter.
- Paul went to the synagogue and preached on the Sabbath: Acts 13:5, 13:14, 44, 14:1, 17:1-2, 1, 17, 18:4, 19.
- In Acts 15:21, it’s understood that (formerly Gentile) converts will learn the law of Moses each Sabbath as they meet.
- Paul instructs the Colossians to observe the Sabbath: Colossians 2:16.
- In the future millennial reign of Jesus on earth, the Sabbath will be observed: Ezekiel 46:1; Isaiah 66:23.
If all early Christians thought Jesus and the apostles taught us to observe Sunday instead of the seventh-day Sabbath, then the debate wouldn’t have continued into the fourth century—and to this day. There wouldn’t have been a corporate Roman decision that Sunday be the day of rest (as commanded in Constantine's Sunday Law, 321 A.D.) instead of Saturday (as commanded in Exodus 20:8). And if the seventh-day Sabbath hadn’t persisted among 4th-century Christians, why was it outlawed in canon 29 of the Council of Laodicea?
Every Scripture used to claim that all animals are now clean for food is taken out of context.
- Peter interprets his vision twice. It is about Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit, not eating ham (Acts 10:34-35, 11:18).
- Jesus supposedly declaring “all foods clean” occurs during a conversation about eating bread with unwashed hands … not eating pork (Matthew 15:2; Mark 7:5).
- “Being fully convinced in your own mind” is about matters of personal conviction—specifically, vegetarianism and on which day to fast (Romans 14:1-3) … not about deciding whether we should obey God’s Law.
- Understanding Mark 7:19 and the Messiah Declaring All Foods Clean
- Clean and Unclean Meats or Vegetarianism?
God is not pleased when we “regift” the relics of pagan worship as celebrations for Him in the form of Christmas and Easter … especially as we fail to celebrate the Jesus-focused, theologically rich holidays commanded us by God in Leviticus 23.
- “Do not worship the LORD your God in the way these pagan peoples worship their gods.” Deuteronomy 12:4
- You shall not bow down to their gods nor serve them, nor do as they do, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces. - Exodus 23:24
As a church we’ve not only created holidays that God didn’t and with unbiblical trappings, we’ve also forgotten His holidays such as Passover, Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Tabernacles. But did the first-century Christians do the same?
If Christians weren’t keeping Passover at all—because they truly thought Paul told them it was OK not to in Colossians 2:16—then there would be no second-century debate over when to keep Passover. There would be no third-century debate over celebrating Passover on a set day. There would be no fourth-century, corporate Roman decision that Passover be officially moved from the 14th of Abib (as commanded by God in Leviticus 23:5) to the first Sunday after the first full moon on/after March 21 (the Spring Equinox) and be called Easter (as commanded by Constantine via Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D.).
Early Christians were observing God’s laws. That's why they argued over them, as evidenced in historic documents for hundreds of years after the apostles were in the grave.
God commanded Israel to wear blue tassels on their clothing to remind them to keep His Law, which as 1 John 3:4 states, defines what sin is.
- Numbers 15:37–41
- Deuteronomy 22:12
- Jesus wore them too (Matthew 9:20)... why don’t we?
Finally, yes, the tassels are for Israel, and all true, New Covenant believers (both Jewish and non-Jewish) are Israel.
- "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. - Jeremiah 31:31-33
- Paul writes, before we are saved, we are Gentiles, and after we were Israel: “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh… were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ…” (Ephesians 2:11a, 12-13) “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, [i.e. Gentiles] but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God [i.e. Israel]…” (2:20) *[brackets mine]
Intriguingly, most of the doctrine that keeps today’s Christians from following Jesus’s example in these areas comes from Paul’s writings. Writings about which Peter penned this warning against falling into “the error of lawless people:
- 2 Peter 3:15-17
Christ Himself warned us to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). Paul was constantly trying to keep the church body on the true gospel path (Galatians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 11:4). It’s called straight and narrow (Matthew 7:14) for a reason and many walked away from it—trying to lead others after them.
One reason we buck this: man’s carnal mind hates God’s law (Romans 8:7), because his heart is desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). Also, a deceiver has been lying to us since the beginning (John 8:44) and is actively trying to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10) us on our hero's journey back to a state of Edenic perfection. And his attack will continue. John prophesies that “the dragon” will “make war” on those, “who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ'' (Revelation 12:17).
I and the reformers agree that in the second and third centuries, the church lost its way and a corporate church developed. It’s likely there has always been a remnant of believers who adhered to God’s law to worship Him in spirit and in truth (1 Kings 19:18). In our day, and in His wisdom, He’s spreading the word.
“...If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
– John 8:31b-32
If you’re interested in learning more, send us a message with your questions. Or check out the free resources at: 119ministries.com or hoshanarabbah.org/teaching.html.
All linked resources on this page are unaffiliated with it, barring The Christmas Question documentary and the following:The Truth: Reformation 2.0, is a book that gives an in-depth look into restoring continuity to church doctrine by removing unnecessary contradictions.