Home Features Oshoffa’s son exposes Cele’s best kept secret

Oshoffa’s son exposes Cele’s best kept secret

by Church Times


Ebenezer Oschoffa is the son of the late founder of the Celestial Church of Christ. He spoke with Church Times’ Gbenga Osinaike and Sanmi Falobi on the church and some of the misgivings about CCC. Below are excerpts:

How do we address you, sir? Are you prophet Ebenezer or pastor?
I am just Ebenezer Oshoffa. I don’t believe in titles. For me it is nothing. It is just a label. It does not represent the content of a person. What is inside you is more important than the title you carry. I have a son who also bears my name. He loves God. He is on fire for God in London. He is the last born of the family and very energetic. Just call me Ebenezer Oshoffa.

Take us back to the beginning of the celestial church.
The church had been founded before I was born. There is a book on the history of the church. But I can remember vividly that I have been active in the church as far back as the 70s. I was in Ikenne, Shagamu, Tejuosho, and so many places to shepherd parishes.

But some believe Celestial Church had a faulty background.
Celestial church is a Christian church. People are entitled to their opinion. Until you move close to a person, you will not understand what the person stands for. There are bad elements in the church and in many other churches too. The challenges we have are not peculiar to us.

So what exactly was the commission God gave to Pa Oshoffa?
Well, the Lord commissioned Oshoffa as a tool to liberate Christians from satanic bondage and make them appreciate that what they are looking for in the home of the herbalist is available in the church in a better and safer way.
In those days many Christians were still patronizing herbalists. That was the situation of the church when God called him to ministry. God spoke to him that many people had satanic marks on them because of their contacts with herbalists and so cannot make heaven. But the Lord commissioned him to evangelise and bring the gospel to people and make them realize that deliverance is available in the church. God told him that without the power and manifestation of the Holy Spirit in his life people would not believe in him. That is why his ministry was marked with signs and wonders.

We hear stories that animals like snakes and monkey birds appeared to him when he received the call to start the ministry. Some have inferred that it gives credence to the occult background of celestials. How will you react to this?
That is not strange. Moses the prince of Egypt had strange visitation from God. God appeared to him in the form of fire. The creatures God showed Papa OShoffa then were symbolic of what can happen in the society. The snake is symbolic, the monkey is symbolic and the peacock is symbolic. I think they represent the pride of life, lust of the flesh and lust of the eye. They were warning symbols for papa so that those things will not obstruct his ministry.

What was he doing when he had the encounter?
He was born and bred in the Methodist church. He was taken to a reverend at a time. His father was a converted Methodist Christian he was named Samuel because he was the only surviving boy of the father. Before him, all the other children of his father had died. The father named him Samuel because he made a vow to God that he would give him back to Him for His service. He was also named Bilewu (bi ile aye bawu) meaning if he finds pleasure in the world. Let him live. The father was skeptical about his survival. That was why he gave him that name.

Did his encounter with God happen in the bush?
Yes. He was not going for any missionary work when God visited him. He was just going to buy wooden items in the bush when he had that encounter. It’s a long story. He was staying with a priest who kicked him out at a time after a minor skirmish and he returned to his father’s carpentry job. He went to the bush with his Bible. But he did not go there to pray or meet God. He did not set out for anything before he had the encounter. As a Methodist boy he always liked to pray.

Did he start the church immediately?
He did not start immediately. He was transformed. He started the church in 1947. He had so many angelic visitations and they were giving him specific instructions on what to do.

How did he get the inspiration for the white garment?
The garment is just a uniform. It is a leveler. Anybody can afford it.

Why not brown?
What is common is white. I think it is just a way of making us feel a sense of oneness and nothing more. With the white garment, you don’t have to bother about what to wear to church on Sunday. You also don’t have to fear that you will be inferior to some other people in the church. It is the instruction from God to Pa Oshoffa. In Israel, they have their Shawl to pray with. It is just a cloth. He did not borrow the idea from anybody. Imagine people looking for clothes to wear because they want to serve God.

You also go barefooted. If I wear shoes does that make me a sinner?
It is the anointing of God in you that empowers you. Wearing the shoes or not is no issue.

But some believe it is an occult practice?

Why don’t we say that Moses was an occult person when the Lord asked him to remove his shoes? Moses was asked to do that. For us not wearing shoes is symbolic. There is nothing to it. It is a representation of the fact that there is nothing in this world. And it also removes the craze for material things.

But Moses’ case was a one-off situation?
Yes. But for us, it is a tradition that has come to stay. And that does not mean there is something extraordinary about it. As I said, it is symbolic. Going barefoot has helped us to appreciate the vanity of life. It helps us to know that man without God is nothing. It is a way of humbling ourselves before God.

You have travelled wide I suppose?
Yes. I was outside the country for a long while. Just came back to Nigeria a couple of years ago. I was all over Europe and the US.

Have you always been in Cele?
I have always been in the church. But at a point, I moved out and became a born-again Christian. But I will not like to talk about that. I am born again. But it is an issue I don’t want to dwell on for now because some people may not understand.

Which church did you attend when you moved out?
I was with Pastor Mathew Ashimolowo’s KICC in London at the early stage of his ministry. I never knew Pastor Mathew before I joined his ministry. It was the situation in the CCC that led me to the church. The Holy Spirit led me to the church. I was trained in KICC. I know Pastor Mathew very well. Thank God for somebody like him. But I don’t want to dwell on that now. There are certain things people will do now and it means nothing to them. But I cannot do it.

How did papa come about the worship mode of CCC?
He got the mode through revelation. Our worship mode is not peculiar. The Catholic Church for instance also uses water the way we use it.

What about candles, binding candles, using it to pray, and several other ritualistic practices?
What we find out in the church is that those who attended over time brought their religious exposure into the church. People were used to using elements when they consult herbalists. So this idea of having something in their hand was brought into the church. And instead of them using it negatively, we convert it into something positive. The Yoruba man for instance believes in holding on to something to strengthen his faith. It is not a ritual in that sense. Sometimes we cannot understand the ways of God. It is like saying what was practiced in the Old Testament is an occult practice.

But the Old Testament is supposed to be the shadow of the new?
Yes. You are right. But the truth is that we are not following the Old Testament as such. If we are, the whole of our church premises will be full of blood.

How do you explain the special work prayer sessions in the church that makes it look as if there is something beyond prayers that are being done?
The fact that some of the things we do are couched in strange terms and methods does not mean they are strange. When we do special prayers for people, it is like what you call intercessory prayers. In such case the issue is taken up by a group of people and they are asked to fervently stand in the gap praying for the person. It could require that the person will be in the church or under the watch of a shepherd.

But you use the name of angels to pray?
We don’t do that. Those who do that are acting in ignorance. We pray in the name of Jesus. But we do not worship angels. We are forbidden to do that. Whenever we mention the name of Jesus we bow. When it comes to Michael and the other angels they all have their roles in actualizing the prayers. They are ministering spirits. They minister to us who are heirs of salvation.

I saw a building in your compound called White Angel. What does that mean?
The white angel house is just a name given to a building. I met it on the ground. It was built for people who want to seek the face of God. It could have been any name.

You mystify a lot of things in the Church
The fact that we name some of these things does not make them bad. It is for our own convenience.

Using coconut to pray? What does that mean?
I think it has to do with the faith of the people. It is not easy to take such practice from them.

But who introduced it to them? Is it not the church?
Many things in the church were brought into the church by those who joined.

Are you saying there was no structure when the church started?
Nobody was controlling anybody. People were acting as they were being led, according to their faith. It is the faith of the people. It is difficult to remove from them what they believe. But God has used us to make them use those belief systems positively.

Oshoffa’s style was like that I suppose?
He prayed in the name of Jesus. And he prayed as he was led. There were times he asked for water or some other things just like Jesus did.

But what were the things you can recall about your father?
God used him to raise many dead people and also used him to heal many sick folks. His exit has left a vacuum in the church. He did not pay attention to some of the rituals you mentioned. He prayed simple prayers and God answered and things happened.

Why then was he controversial? He was a polygamist, he had a big foot and people say that is why he did not allow his members to wear shoes since his legs could not fit into a shoe.

Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. Don’t forget that Moses in his old age married an Ethiopian woman. The people quarreled with him and God judged them. I cannot quarrel with any man of God for his preferences. I won’t do that. That is between him and God.

But you are not into that?
I am not.

But some of your pastors are also into it?
Don’t mind those pastors who have many wives. They will tell you that it is because Oshoffa had many wives. But the truth is that they are adulterous. The adulterous spirit is already in them they just used Pa Oshoffa to cover up. In the case of Oshoffa God knew he had three wives before he was called to ministry. If God saw that he was unusable he would not have used him. I cannot vilify him for that.


The CCC seems not to have a structure.
Somebody came here and she did not believe what she saw. She said the way the church is being labeled outside is not what she experienced. The lady came and I did not ask her to bring anything and I prayed for her. Some people from the mainline Pentecostal churches come to celestial church when they have challenges and they get solution to their problems but they go back to their churches.

Maybe it’s because of your own peculiar experience that is why you seem not to look like the typical celestial pastor.
Yes. When God wants to do something in a person’s life he does it His own way. When God took me away from the church I was transformed. I had the privilege of interacting with men of God who worked on me. My exposure transformed me. You could be going to church for donkey years without encounter with God.

What is your background?
I was already a district evangelist by the time my father died. I had been married with children at that time. After the death of my father, I traveled abroad. I had a bit of my education here before I traveled. I also worked in the bank. I did A/Levels. I was also at the University of Ibadan and then traveled abroad. While abroad I did a lot of courses in Information Technology. For me acquiring degrees does not matter.

We heard that your father never travelled by air. People said he had known he would die by accident. He believe dying in the air would make it impossible for his remains to be gathered.
These are mere speculations. He did not travel by air. I don’t know why. But there are people who have flight phobia. Traveling by air always can affect one’s health. It could be that he had a phobia of height. Sometimes constant traveling by air could affect one’s health. He just did not like traveling by air. But people who traveled out of the country started the church abroad.

The way Celestial is run here is not the same as what you have abroad.
The culture of a place to a large extent affects the worship mode. That is what we are experiencing in the church. In the UK the way of doing things is different. The Yoruba man has a way of worshipping God which is different from the white man.

30 years after Oshoffa. What is your observation since he left?
There is a vacuum. I don’t want to talk more than that because doing that will lead us to talk about the crisis in the church which I don’t want to dwell on.

We hear that he prophesied that there will be crises in the church for 30 years.
He said so. But if that is what is happening how come we are still in crisis after 30 years because it is already 30 years since he died?

Still on your father, what fond memory do you have of him?
He was unassuming. He was humble. He had relationship with other church leaders. He never criticized any church. He believed churches are like schools. One day they will sit in an exam hall and God will examine them.

What is the message of the Celestial Church?
It is to preach the gospel to the lost. It is to reach out to Christians who still run after fetish things and assure them there is power in the church. God commissioned Papa Oshoffa to preach the one true God. The mission of the church is to cleanse the world. Celestial Church people are trained to challenge the powers of darkness.

But you mystify some of the things you do?
Every house has its own rules which some may not understand. I must confess that crisis has threatened the church.

Oshoffa died in 1985 about 40 years after the ministry began. One would have thought he would have put a structure down?
He would have put a structure down. What happened is that his death was sudden. As a matter of fact, he did not die in the accident. After the accident, we took him to First Shadrach hospital in Surulere and he was responding to treatment. There was no cut on his body. He was recuperating from the shock of the accident.

We registered him as Mr. X in the hospital because we did not want people to flood the hospital. But my sister and I had access to him. I used to park my car far away from the hospital so that people would not trace me to the place.

We were not wearing white garment to visit him. Many people thought he was dead. But on Sept 8, 1985, I brought Archbishop George Amu who was then a shepherd in the church to see him.

Then, Papa Banjo and Papa Owodunni who had misunderstandings also came to see him that same day. There was a crisis in National Bank and Papa Banjo was in detention. Papa was asking Owodunni if he paid a visit to the man while he was in detention. He said, No, that even Thomas who had died… (Thomas was one of the aides of papa in the vehicle when the vehicle had an accident. Papa Oshoffa did not know he had died.)
He was still talking when papa cut in. He was shocked to hear that Thomas had died. Papa Owodunni could not conclude his statement. When he saw that the piece of information did not go down well with Pa Oshoffa, he tried to rephrase what he said about the death of the aide but it was too late. Papa got the message.
Just to be double sure he told me to go and look for Thomas and one other person. I knew Thomas had died. I came back to him on Monday evening pretending to have traveled to Ibadan to bring Thomas. But the news had triggered so many things in him. I am sure he prayed that God should take his life away. If he did not die, I am sure people would have read meaning to the incident. He was okay and was cracking joke with us but the shock of the news of Thomas led to his death.

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Otulana Ayokemi March 11, 2018 - 4:59 pm

Why were you not born again in celestial church. Those who are in ccc are not born again. The constitution says so long you are a member, you are going to Heaven. None of the member believed the gospel. None of them ever confessed thier sins. None repent from them or forsake them. What makes a sinner be Saint is conversion. Celestial is an occtic church. Trace your foundation back to 1947…. It’s called ijo atinga

Emmanuel jegede March 14, 2018 - 8:02 pm

you are stupid fellow animal is your father church that is occultic don’t say what you don’t know bitch

emmanuel April 10, 2018 - 11:32 am

celestial church is an occutic church but your church member do run to the church when they are in trouble

Fatusin zechariah o May 18, 2019 - 9:15 am

Hmm. Watch it brought!

Oshamor August 13, 2020 - 10:39 pm

Who named it ijo Atinga. Since you know history??

vikky August 24, 2020 - 1:33 am

Sir that not it
Mind your words

Olaide Luli williams March 11, 2021 - 1:56 pm

Madam, you better stop saying these junks…. U had better stop it!!!! Who are u to judge a church? Are u even clean?

Oladejo Peter November 8, 2022 - 7:35 am

You are an idiot for that statement.

Shodolamu Sandra November 22, 2023 - 3:46 pm

You are not worthy to judge any church or anyone cause you are not holy yourself how dare you call it an occultic church? Becareful so you dont see the wrath of God okay

Emmanuel jegede March 14, 2018 - 8:00 pm

That man is an idiot And foolish person is a waste to his father oshoffa disgraceful son how can you leave your father church and start saying rubbish about it fool

Damilola April 4, 2018 - 8:23 pm

God will forgive us

Penterascal May 2, 2018 - 7:10 pm

“Awon aje to WA ni titi, atinga ti ko won lo” s s d d d r m d l, s d d d r m d d. Meaning the witches on the road, atinga have driven them away…that was the song we used to sing then. If cele is an occult church, why would they be a terror to witches? I know a born again cele, she will not do 1/100 of what Pentecostals are doing. Enough of hypocrisy.

Oshoffa’s son exposes Cele’s best kept secret – Kosco May 17, 2018 - 3:35 pm

[…] 42.Oshoffa died in 1985 about 40 years after the ministry began. One would have thought he would have put a structure down? He would have put a structure down. What happened is that his death was sudden. As a matter of fact he did not die in the accident. After the accident we took him to First Shadrach hospital in Surulere and he was responding to treatment. There was no cut on his body. He was recuperating from the shock of the accident. We registered him as Mr. X in the hospital because we did not want people to flood the hospital. But my sister and I had access to him. I used to park my car far away from the hospital so that people would not trace me to the place. We were not wearing white garment to visit him. Many people thought he was dead. But on Sept 8, 1985 I brought Archbishop George Amu who was then a shepherd in the church to see him. Then, Papa Banjo and Papa Owodunni who had misunderstanding also came to see him that same day. There was a crisis in National Bank and Papa Banjo was in detention. Papa was asking Owodunni if he paid a visit to the man while he was in detention. He said, No, that even Thomas who had died… (Thomas was one of the aides of papa in the vehicle when the vehicle had accident. Papa Oshoffa did not know he had died.) He was still talking when papa cut in. He was shocked to hear that Thomas had died. Papa Owodunni could not conclude his statement. When he saw that the piece of information did not go down well with Pa Oshoffa, he tried to rephrase what he said about the death of the aide but it was too late. Papa got the message. Just to be double sure he told me to go and look for Thomas and one other person. I knew Thomas had died. I came back to him on Monday evening pretending to have travelled to Ibadan to bring Thomas. But the news had triggered so many things in him. I am sure he prayed that God should take his life away. If he did not die, I am sure people would have read meaning to the incident. He was okay and was cracking joke with us but the shock of the news of Thomas led to his death. celestial church of christ […]

Prophet Nelson Agoreyor May 29, 2018 - 2:39 pm

Celestial church of Christ is a true church, is a church from heaven,is not an occultist church ooo pls Rev SBJ Oshoffa is called and ordained from God ooo pls is a real man Of God ooo stop criticising and blaspheming okay the son of Rev SBJ Oshoffa is a disgrace and coursed, now let me announced to u people the u people know now that the guy is blind

Sunday Olufemi Ebenezer June 21, 2018 - 2:59 pm

Some of you people need to mind what you say, when come to issue of religion, churches . By the way, there is no religion or church in heaven and what real matter is our relationship with our creator being the God almighty. Moreover, out of the so called pastors will have today in our churches how many of them hear a calling from God almighty before starting their so call ministry? All the prophet from the Bible received a calling from God. My so call fellow Christian whether you are CAC, Apostolic, Celestial, CSC, Redeem, KICC etc, what real matter is that did you hear from God? Thanks

temidayo ogunmodede(d piano) August 24, 2018 - 11:12 am

@Kemi otulana bornagain is not a religion neither an identity it is jst an acces to new world i.e celestian life which makes u a spiritual,peculiar being and a new speice of people.As a celestian our root is in heaven jhn8:23,so,we are amng the people who dwell in heaven,we are frm heaven on a mission on the earth,we are nt jst a human who is jst struggling to survive but smebody who is here on earth to make a mark and to make heaven real here on earth that is y we are called celestians,a peculiar people
therefore my fellow celestian kingdomite we dnt need to critisize any one but preach d gosple to them
u dont knw d quality of a soup that is nt tasted I am proud to b a born again celestian member (frm temidayo ogunmodede,ccc jehovah elyon parish ldowu egba b/sp lasu igando express road……Area h youth member)for more info 08173136151 or temideewon@gmail.as a celestian i will continue flowing at Gods frequency till thy kingdom come halleluyah!!!!!!!

Micheal Ayomide Joseph January 14, 2019 - 10:11 pm

I Greet You All My Brothers And Sisters In Thy Lord Jesus Christ. 1corinthians Chapter 15 Vs 40 Says: There Are Also Celestial Bodies And Bodies Terrestrial. But The Glory Of Celestial Is One And The Glory Of Terrestrial Is Another. This Great Glory Of Celestial Has Been From Heaven And Sent Through Grace As A Last Boat Of Salvation Through Pa. Samuel Bilewu Oshoffa When He Heard The Word Luli Meaning Grace, It Is Not Occultic Church And Pls Let’s All Watch What We All Say, I Will Not Go Further Than This But If You Are Willing To Know More And Want To Ask Question About What Is Not Clear To You About Celestial, Reach Me On 08112215980. Micheal Ayomide Joseph, C.C.C Seminary School, Km/53 Ibadan Expessway.

Abraham June 10, 2019 - 10:38 pm

The greatest enemy is death 1coritian 15 vs 26…..let me be sincerely celestial church of Christ is a great church……bi ayie Fe be ayie ko, won Teri ba fun Christi….God bless us all…bro Abraham from makoko NHQ…..

Joetel January 21, 2020 - 11:27 pm

Like father like son. This interview with the son simply served to prove what exactly the celestial church is – a church based on lies and deception: 2 Corinthians 11.14.
Throughout the interview and at every corner and turning you see the man deflecting and side-tracking all the questions asked without being able to give a single straight-forward answer to any of them. And that is what the devil always does whenever he is cornered.
No wonder they always send themselves straight to the burning hell right from here, when at burial, their dead bodies are accompanied with candles thrown into the four corners of their graves. May be this ritual is also one that was “brought into the church by those who joined”
And as for the so-called ‘born again’ christians that sneak to your church for help, surely these are not Christians as defined by the bible and neither are they born again even though they claim to be attending Pentecostal churches. For instance I knew the day you claimed to be born again and I was also at your water baptism. I knew you won’t last long in the faith going by your celestial background and the strong man behind the celestial church. But then read 2 Peter 2: 20 -22 and especially verse 22. That is why satan never willingly release his captives be they white garment church members, muslims, occultists, satanists. And that is why deliverance ministers have extra works on their hands whenever any of these people encounter the real Christ (not the fake demons camouflaging about as ‘christs’ in many occult houses called ‘church’.
And as for those who continue to argue, well it’s no surprise, since their master satan has blinded their eyes lest they should discover the truth according to 2 Corinthians 4.4.

vikky August 24, 2020 - 1:36 am

sir is your church up to that
If you say it a satanic church,while on earth so those gospel members go their for deliverance

Amajoy247 February 12, 2022 - 8:08 am

@Joetel. Who made U a Judge over Them? U Claim to be a Righteous Christian yet Pointing Accusing fingers and Insulting pple calling them demons, devil’s and all kinds of unfounded accusations. Is that what yr OwnBible teaches You sir?.
May the ALMIGHTY forgive U for being a witness to somebody’s baptism and already condemning them that U knew he would Not last and U were inside a Churc I suppose,. Is that a Godly Action or an Act of Witchcraft right there.
P.s let’s all be Slow to Condemn others in Malice for no reason before U miss your Own Salvation and invite Negative forces into yr Lives Whilst Tring to Judge Others in error for even Christ said the 1dt shall be the Last also it is written that God said ” I Will Have Mercy Upon Whom I Will Have Mercy Upon” Halleluyah’ is a Heavenly Language!!!!

Abdulkareem seidina January 22, 2020 - 5:59 am

I always wondered why some people are criticisms. Celestial church of Christ is far better than a lot of Churches we are having today. The church have rules and regulations on like most of Churches that there members are dressed as if they attending party jam on Sunday service

Mary April 8, 2020 - 4:19 am

How are you even sure that the so call reporters didn’t add there’s…all that matters is your relationship with your God..CCC or penticostal Churches,,ask your self , how is my relationship with my maker.cus I can see some people here criticizing CCC now and even backing up their bad act brother is that what they taught in your own church???..is this the love your neighbor as yourself God commanded..am not a CCC member but we dar we are so called CAC or whatever ,are you not worst than them? They use water , anointing oil and so as them,so now tell me what the difference is.. please no one should be discriminative here… your faith matters a lot in what ever you do.. cus most of people are bad doesn’t mean everybody is bad , please take note of that ..there are still the one’s that are pure and holy..so please as our Bible has taught us don’t judge any body.. it’s not in your hands to judge any act my brother/sister.cus you’re not God .. you’re not God that will accept or decline their worship so what your stress..do what you believe is right..the owner of the church himself is coming for it..the question is how prepared are you?????
Stay blessed.

Mary April 8, 2020 - 4:23 am

How are you even sure that the so call reporters didn’t add there’s ..were you there wen they were asking him? reporters can post anything they like…all that matters is your relationship with your God..CCC or penticostal Churches,,ask your self , how is my relationship with my maker.cus I can see some people here criticizing CCC now and even backing up their bad act brother is that what they taught in your own church???..is this the love your neighbor as yourself God commanded..am not a CCC member but we dar we are so called CAC or whatever ,are you not worst than them? They use water , anointing oil and so as them,so now tell me what the difference is.. please no one should be discriminative here… your faith matters a lot in what ever you do.. cus most of people are bad doesn’t mean everybody is bad , please take note of that ..there are still the one’s that are pure and holy..so please as our Bible has taught us don’t judge any body.. it’s not in your hands to judge any act my brother/sister.cus you’re not God .. you’re not God that will accept or decline their worship so what your stress..do what you believe is right..the owner of the church himself is coming for it..the question is how prepared are you?????
Stay blessed.

Church Times April 8, 2020 - 10:16 am

This is an interview.. the reporter did not add to it.

Joshua May 26, 2020 - 12:47 am

celestial church of christ.
i think on the long run, we might realize it is only baba osshoffa that is worthy member of ccc.
cos i know a lot of things being practised in the church is scriptural but too modified bcos of greediness of the leaders that took over from oshoffa himself.
the issue where a part of the Alter is meant for men only, females in the church not permitted to go near the alter Etc… these rules to me might have been so good bcos there is no grace abounding, so sin abounds, but finally a spirit being is given to us in form of man (Jesus) to die for us and reconcille us to the father through grace… that is why the bible says “Let us therefore come bodly unto the throne of God through the grace of God”. He (Jesus) for human is the law fulfiller, He came to fulfill the law which so many took into religion today. Thats why He said on the cross “IT IS FINISHED” now the death of Jesus did the unthinkable. It serves as a big significant and gives everyone the access to the Father. but only those who accept Him. For without Him (Jesus) no man, no church, no congregation will enter into kingdom of God…..
my conclusion: anyman, church, congregation, leader who doesnt live a christlike life is just wasting time…..Hell awaits such

John June 29, 2020 - 2:13 am

What I don’t really understand about the church bathing people in river and also making some ritual and there was a day I when to one of the branch here in Benin inside the church compound there was a small house that’s was build the house is like that of Catholic Church were dey do mode that their holy marry statue I saw many padlock that was padlock together what does that also symbolis

Ebenezer October 7, 2020 - 11:22 pm

Bathing people in river could be a spiritual job that God has given to one set of people. Just because some have been given it to do by God doesn’t mean everyone has been given it to do. A big thing is that we see stuff being done , take it as the truth and make it our own routine. This is the same concept with the statues.

In the days of Papa Oshoffa there was nothing as statue of Holy Mary. A statue with padlocks together is something that many people do but was never done un churches under Papa Oshoffa. People have added to what was given to the Celestial church and are giving people, who are not aware about the truth of the church, a wrong impression.

Nana July 29, 2020 - 11:46 am

My dear children of God,we should mind what we say Bec it will be against us on jugement day,every one live by faith,no church is perfect or good,we all dwell in an hypocritical,word,what matters is ur relationship with Christ Jesus,and understanding who he his and keeping his commandment,with the help of the holy spirit directing u,don’t judge,faith are different,where there is bad there is also good.

Omoderu Olusegun Victor August 9, 2020 - 12:27 am

Anybody judging celestial remember God said ” You shall not judge”
Psalm 109 is our prayer

Oladele August 20, 2020 - 8:37 pm

Humm Cele issue E get as E be o, first I will say what God told me about them and this will be the first time since 1996 I heard this secret from the lord, I consider this as opportunity for anyone who read this bc it took me 1 year to be with the lord in a prayer of nations around the world tagged “purge or judgment of the world before second coming of Jesus Christ “
God told me that many churches were directly founded by him and many were also founded by Lucifer and lastly many were founded by some angels who were denied return back to heaven bc they visited Lucifer area only to spy on his kingdom which was not part of their original assignment on earth, so these erring angels were denied of entry but were not totally condemned as falling angels, so since they became stranded on earth, they decided to get themselves busy on good works so that they also may not end up in hell on final judgment day, in other words, they began to found some churches too.
Now about celestial, I am sorry to reveal that it was founded directly by Lucifer himself…..then I asked God to scatter the church but HE said NO! He will not, he said all he will do is to guide HIS own into some genuine churches, and moving out time for “children of salvation” varies, then I had my peace.
It was during this hot prayers or warfare that HE mentioned churches one by one for me to pray that he may cleanse those that were HIS own bc according to HIM he said each church needs constant spiritual maintenance so that Lucifer May not inject some foreign or fake doctrine into their original doctrine.
I was shocked to hear that he founded cherubim & seraphim BUT he said bc of lack of discerning spirit on the part of Rev. or prophet Moses Orimolade, something happened along the line….meaning a church may start well and later end bad but that doesn’t mean they are entirely bad but when the majority is bad such organization may not be trusted.
Each church have their good and bad side, it’s very important that the good side outweighs their bad side like 70-100% is acceptable to God. Thank you.

God's Deed August 30, 2020 - 12:14 am

Mr Oladele, everything you said was right except your 70-100% comment…That not the biblical standard..The Word of God is settled forever in heaven (Ps. 119:89) even before the foundation of the earth was established. It is either a 100% or nothing..Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect (Mt.5:48)….perfection and unblemish is the standard because that’s the heavenly standard formulated for all ages..

Also I will like to emphasize on the fact that the Body of Christ is never divided..If there are only two perfect believers in Christ on earth, those two are the Body of Christ..If you find yourself in a church that is not for God, you have only subscribed for eternal damnation(We need God’s grace and mercy in that matter but we are also under obligation to seek the true God through personal dedication and commitment)..The Word of Christ is the the truth as delivered to the apostles..Whatever comes outside the apostles’ doctrines (Acts 2:42) are demonic doctrines to keep men in perpetual darkness and from the knowledge of the true gospel.

Someone also said something about not judging others? There’s a different between judging others and defending the True Gospel of God…We were commissioned by our Lord to defend and bear witness to Him…The true church needs to rise by the power of the Holy Ghost(not of the spirit of antichrist) and defend the true gospel..Our race had been bankrupt and the truth is scarce, salvation is for all man and it is the only cure for humankind .

Beloved, you don’t need to bathe in waters , deal with candles and other pure witchcraft principles to be delivered (they are only temporary discovered nonsense to keep men in darkness)… All we need is the Blood of Jesus and His Word… For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith(Romans 1:16-17 )

In conclusion, I’m a recent regenerated believer whom God has just shew His Grace on to see the true way…I was born into the Celestial Church and i grew up with those initiatives…Those member are really not to br blamed because they still haven’t had their eyed opened to see the true gospel..They need our prayers and love. The devil had succeeded in keeping them in darkness but we are also called to destroy the works of the devil…The remnant of the church might be so few but we are rising in this season with a different dimension of the power of God to preserve the earth with our saltness and give light to the world in darkness (Mt.5:13-16)…If you will align with God and be useful for the implementation of the true kingdom principle in this season, then, God has a work for you if you will pay the price…


Oluwaseun September 26, 2020 - 10:39 am

You are blessed

Ade October 18, 2021 - 12:47 am

Everything you said is the undiluted truth. And talking about God’s remnant, Jesus made us understand in the bible that our true brothers and sisters are those who follow the will of his Father, so will you like to join a Facebook group where members share bible scriptures, experiences, visions etc?

Isaac December 27, 2023 - 2:11 am

I salute you, General.

God Bless You sir

Samson October 2, 2020 - 4:56 pm

Mr Oladele, in replying to your comment, I will want to employ the very basic principle of logical reasoning. You claim God told you that Celestial Church of Christ was founded by Lucifer, and in like manner, the founder of the church claimed that God descended the church through him, a claim he swore to with the Bible on numerous occasions while alive. Now my question: If both of you are claiming conflicting revelations from God on the same matter, why particularly should we accept yours and reject the other? Thank you.

Moni November 16, 2020 - 4:01 pm

Gelasian 1
6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. 11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Moni November 16, 2020 - 4:04 pm

Galasian 1
6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. 11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

God's Deed October 3, 2020 - 8:34 am

Authentic bible based christianity.

Olumide ogunwale January 12, 2021 - 12:06 pm

Pro. Olumide.
First, I’m sorry because I do not the age of Evan. Ebenezer Oshoffa. I will relate to the children of Eli.
He didn’t who is father was or probably he didn’t grew in up with is father else he should have gotten a good answers for those questions.
The Bible says you will know the truth and it shall set you free.

The name was given by God through a prophet in trance.
8:23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.

Our Doctrine
Wearing white garment – Soutana
Rev 7:9, Rev 4:4,Lev 16:14, Rev 19:8, Matt. 17:1-2, Matt. 28:2-3, Mark 9:2-3,Daniel 7:9,John 20:11-12,

Wearing no shoes
Acts 7:33, Joshua 5:15, Exodus 3:5

Lighting candles in the altar
Rev 4:5; Zech 4:2-5

Bowing down before the Altar
Rev 4:3-10, 14:7

Chanting “Holy, Holy, Holy to the Lord of Hosts”
Rev 4:8

The eye on the Celestial logo
Rev 5:6

Using incense during services
Rev 5:8 & 8:3-5; Exodus 30:8-9; Luke 1:9-11; Exodus 30:24-38; Exodus 40:5; Exodus 31:10-11; Malachi 1:11

The salvation of C.C.C.
Rev 7:14; Romans 8:28-30

Using of the Holy water
Exodus 13:17-21; Number 8:6-7; Exodus 27:20

Keeping the Altar light burning regularly
Lev. 24:4-6; Exodus 27:20-21

Making announcements during services
Exodus 29:7

Uses of Church oil
Exodus 29:36; James 5:13-15; Mark 6:13; Number 10:1

Stream bath
2 Kings 5:10-15; John 9:6-11

Conducting New Moon services
Number 28:9-15; Isaiah 1:13-14; Numbers 10:1

Washing of feet
John 3:5, 14 & 15; II Kings 5:10-15; John 9:6-11

Use of palm front
Rev 7:9; John 12:12-18

Not allowing corpses in the sanctuary
Ezekiel 43:7-9

Using salt in thanks offering
Lev. 2:13; Matthew 5:18

No alcohol
Leviticus 10:8-11; Genesis 9:2-25

Mandatory purification for women after menstrual period
Lev 12:2-3 & 15:4-9

Use of Perfume
Matthew 26: 6-13

The seven candles – the 7 spirits of God
Rev 4:1-5, Rev 1:12&20, Zechariah 4:2, Exodus 25:31-37, Exodus 37:23, Number 8:2
I’ve also deflected to the rccg, as an ass. Choirmaster and later choirmaster, but sent me back to celestial fold telling me”so many people are in boundage go back and loose them”, I refused at first not until all I had was vanished before heeding the call. Today all glory and adoration be to in the highest.

Prophet Olumide.

ZAKI February 26, 2021 - 11:12 pm

Let people say what thay like, but i know God is with the CELESTIAL CHURCH.

Olaide Luli williams March 11, 2021 - 2:03 pm

Y’all should be careful what u think, say and do… Before u type anything here, God already knows… Don’t ever say God revealed to u that a particular church is occultic… That is a big fat lie!!!! God will never reveal such to u…

Sarahlyn July 11, 2021 - 10:49 am

U are blessed prophet Olumide. State of the Church can be likened to Matteuw 13:24-43. Just finished reading ur comment and that one some few others. The things some people say and write on social media not thinking about its depth and impact on the readers is quite beyond me and claiming God showed them after hot prayers pls get real. Thanks

Ikpe Prosper Rex July 24, 2021 - 10:47 am

God is love and love is God. If u ar a true child of God, u will learn to accept His creatures d way they ar. No one is good, no one is bad. Equally, no religion is better than the other. No church too is better than d rest. No type of pple are better than others. God hates, when u put yourself above your fellow human being. Rather, humble ur self b4 d Lord, counting others better than u are. We have good nd bad elements in all denominations, as far as earthly life is concerned. For we have all sine nd come short of His glory, says d word of God in His holy book.

Clarence Elisha November 18, 2021 - 1:03 pm

Everyone should go read 2 Corinthians 11:14. This is the decepticon the devil uses and God warned about. I have issues with the snake,bird and monkey appearances. God will never appear to anyone in those forms, especially that of the snake. Lucifer’s first appearance in the Bible was in that form (serpent). A lot of people have claimed appearances from God in forms that aren’t biblical. God can never be an author of confusion. I dont need to pray to know a true and false church: do you know why? All i need is to follow what the scriptures says about identifying a true church. I am not saying any church is false or true but whenever we attempt to satisfy ourselves of where we should worship we must put this churches to test using the principle of how God has appeared to His prophets of old. Think guys,if there is no issues to how he claims God appeared to him and in what form,then there should be no issues with how Mohammed the prophet of Islam got his own appearance. Test every spirit brethren,test every spirit for even lucifer can transform as the angel of light. Everyone has to appear before the judgement throne of God one day. I wont say more.

Musa January 28, 2022 - 8:02 am

This is why I hate Christianity
You always go against yourselves,you are not always one and will always try to quote others doctrine wrong
Every holy books were written and known of us were there when those things happened but we believed
What if we all get to heaven all this things were just to put humans to order
Churches especially CAC thinks they are very holy and live the most righteous life ,hmmm some of other Pentecostal pastors have s very bad behavior but will come outside claiming Gods P.A
I wish you Christian will change from this rubbish
Your pastors are mostly in hell if you were given chance to see heaven

AREMO January 30, 2022 - 6:37 pm

I only believe if all that has been said and read into our hearings are true, we all shall meet on the judgment Day…

Yinka July 10, 2022 - 4:17 pm

You all are just here arguing and proving points over a religion we know nothing about its origin , a religion where we don’t have a complete written documentary of where it came from, a religion where we heard and we know that some of its written and recorded verses have been omitted in the general publicized versions outside …… We serve a true living God, we should not go about trying to prove supremacy of doctrine , how do we explain that we are one religion “Christianity” when we always argue over supremacy of doctrines , ( it is my own church that God called not yours etc )

I am really ashamed about this having someone from a Pentecostal church coming to say that the white garment churches are demonic and preaching against people been members ………..We don’t hear the oldest churches like the Anglican, Catholic etc come online to talk bad about other Christian doctrines and try to brainwash people from been members … we should focus more about life and our journey in it and not always put all our energy into arguing on doctrine supremacy or religion supremacy , this is one of the genesis of our problem in this country , you will never see a white man argue about supremacy of doctrines from churches founded before Christ and churches founded after Christ ….

Let us leave people to do what they believe in…….There are a lot of evil people in churches, we preach what we are not…. We should focus on our believe and let people go with what they believe in , don’t come online and start taking about which church or doctrine is supreme over the other, you are not God, leave God to judge us all after we all leave this earth, churches are places where you see more evil people, we only come online to preach….

Jayeola July 12, 2022 - 3:52 pm

The two major challenges facing our country…
*RELIGION (which is a major problem)

Christianity is actually the biggest joke I have seen or heard since I was born. ‘Holier than thou’ brothers and sisters that still fornicate, drink and commit adultery when no one can see them, forgetting that God sees all (This is for Christians of all denomination).
Sermons are now diluted to meet the taste of the congregation because they do not want to lose members ?…
The division and pretense in “CHRISTIANITY” is alarming and I fear Christians a lot. We have forgotten the origin of the word “CHRISTIANITY”… We have forgotten that “CHRISTIANITY” is not actually a religion but a way of life (Act 11 – People saw that they had the Character, Zeal, Attitude and a mindset of CHRIST).
How many of us actually live the life that CHRIST lived when He was on earth… How many of us follow the simplified commandment “Love your Neighbor”???

A lot of comments here and I already see many “CHRISTIANS” by religion and words but not by “CHARACTER” or “WAY OF LIFE”.

We will all die someday and the truth about “Religion” and the supreme God’s dynamism will be revealed to us all.


Matthew smile Lawrence August 17, 2022 - 3:28 pm

Wow I am speechless.Though I did my wedding in celestial church as a pentecostal pastor,and was prophesied I will serve God’s vision in celestial church but I never believed it,but now I have a strong urge to join,so I decided to make more research about God ordained church.I am happy and fulfilling prophecy.Thank you for clearity ,sinceri and enlightenment.I will join this month August.

Elder Alabi January 15, 2023 - 4:38 am

I have gone round various religions and denominations and found out that no group fights against itself stands……CCC mission in the Christian denomination is clear eventhough bad people everywhere but the church is GOD sent; No More,No less! Halleluyah

ADEYEMI THOMAS COLE January 16, 2023 - 2:07 pm

I have promised myself never to argue with anyone about the truth of God (through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ) establishing the Celestial Church of Christ. Personally, I was born into a Christian home. Spent my childhood as a member of the Choirs, at different times, in several churches including the Christ Church Cathedral in Lagos. Up to my late 20’s I was mentally and physically opposed to any white garment church particularly Celestial church. This opposition was not based on facts of personal experience, but on hear say of supposedly more knowledgeable people around me.
How I became a member of CCC is a miracle and a very long story. However, I got born again in Celestial church. I received my commission in CCC. I have had several encounters with the Lord Jesus Christ in this church. I have been blessed with gifts of the Holy Spirit and these have been obediently used for the glory of God. When I have stumbled, Christ has been faithful enough to teach me in visions. The Holy Spirit has guided me to places and people I don’t even know, to preach the gospel and do deliverance and healing works. In my journey of over 40years now in Celestial church, I have met supposed Christians, who are so critical of CCC, and who by their words, deeds and reputation, are the classical spawn of the devil. For me, a Christian 1. Loves God with all his heart, soul and mind, and 2. Love his neighbours as himself. He strives daily to live a Holy life and be obedient to Jesus’s commandments, abiding in Him
Matt 22:37 – 40; John 15; 1 Pet. 1:15-16; John 3:3,5
This striving, with the help of the Holy Spirit, stops only at death, when a person becomes incapable of sinning. The Christian must have a forgiving attitude.
Mark 11: 25-26; Luke 11:4; 17:3-4
This is one thing the Holy Spirit drummed into me at a point in time and He made me to go round 7 parishes in 3 states preaching this about 25years ago. The point is this, if anyone believes Celestial is not of Christ, I know better. Countless others know better. There are structural deficiencies that need to be corrected, especially in Clergy training and in Administration. There are also bad eggs, as it is in all denominations. Not all members in all denominations are born again. Some are there to do the work of their father Satan. The presence of adulterers, lesbians, homosexuals, armed robbers, fraudsters, etc in all cadres in ALL DENOMINATIONS does not remove the presence of Christ in the establishment of any denomination. CELESTIAL CHURCH IS ESTABLISHED BY CHRIST THROUGH SBJOSCHOFFA. I HAVE HAD COUNTLESS ENCOUNTERS WITH CHRIST TO REMAIN UNSHAKEN IN MY SERVICE AND WORSHIP OF GOD. I DO NOT, AND NOBODY SHOULD, DEPEND UPON THE CERTIFICATION OF OTHER MERE MORTALS TO WORSHIP IN CELESTIAL CHURCH. AFTER ALL OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST WAS ONCE SAID TO BE WORKING FOR THE DEVIL.

Solomon May 9, 2023 - 11:44 pm

Am a Celestial member. Am still learning. What I’ve observed about CCC is that alot of the doctrines are in the bible, but some are not. Eg: Celestial pastors supports fraud 100%. A lot of church members fornicates and the shepherds knows about it, but you won’t here them preach against it not once. All they preach about is that; “if you dey press come make I give you something make your client for pay”. Most of their preachings and doctrines are always about yahoo yahoo and they love to pray that all the money that your white client promised you will return to you. You can’t pick a member from the church that is a real born again. 99% of the members are drunkards, fornicators, adulterers, fraudsters, thief’s, killers, possessed by marine spirit. I have attended a lot of churches and I know my bible very well. Alot of CCC doctrines are demonic. The reasons am still a member, its because, am still observing. Thank you all

Uncle bliss September 12, 2023 - 6:07 pm

My problem with Christianity is that they are the most confused set of people on Earth. They are always busy fighting and hating each other. Just because you are looking for customer, you are always busy condemning yourselves. Jesus mixed sand with his spite to heal a blind man. Jesus instructed a disciple to get money from a fish, you called it a miracle but when someone does similar things today, you call it fetish. Ndi iberibe

Ubasco January 8, 2024 - 11:41 pm

Church is being attended on sabbath days according to the law but sabbath and circumcision are laws which is a sign of convenant between God and isreal but in hebrew 8 God talk about abonding it bc it has never worked now talking about the new convenant which he gave us in christ Jesus , Jusus through his death distory the seeing church and rebliud it in three day, which means God the Father, God the son and God the spirit. Now we need no pastor or priest to show us or to do any work before God can hear us.Hebrew 9
The temple of God is our body which is also made with sand just as many churches today,
Questions we need to has ourselves are how do i sabbath day holy?, am i truly circumcision?
Do i truly love God?, do i love others as i love my self? circumcision is loving God by believe in every word of and being born again by the God the Father, The Son and the holy spirit. And keeping the sabbath day holy is loving ur fellow human as u love ur self. Because what is holy must lovely and what is lovely must be holy, that is y God is LOVE because he is HOLY.

Ubasco January 8, 2024 - 11:58 pm

Old Testament Laws: The Covenants and the Sabbath: The Biblical Evidence

Are Christians obligated to keep the Sabbath rest law of Exodus 20:8-11? Some Christians believe that the Sabbath must be observed because this law appears in the Ten Commandments. Is this true?

We can answer this question by taking a broad look, not just at the Ten Commandments, but at the entire old and new covenants. As we shall see, the covenants tell a fascinating story about the history and purpose of the Sabbath rest command. More than this, by looking at the sweep of God’s dealings with the human race from the beginning until the completion of Jesus’ redemptive work and the creation of the church, the purpose of the entire Law of Moses—including the Ten Commandments—will become clear. Let’s explore what Scripture says about the covenants.

God first made a general covenant pledge in the presence of Adam and Eve, promising that evil—personified by the devil—would be destroyed (Genesis 3:15). This was the first covenant between humans and God after “the Fall.” Despite the fact that humans had sinned and had become fallen creatures, they now had a promise that a Savior would, in the future, crush and destroy the evil that held them prisoner.

Later, God also made a covenant with humanity through Noah. “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you,” God told this patriarch (Genesis 9:8). It was an everlasting covenant that promised saving grace, in a physical sense, to all people.

Still later, God made a covenant with Abraham, and this one becomes the crux of both the old and the new covenants. Most of the Abrahamic covenant concerns a promise that the descendants of Abraham would be a people of God and be given a land (Genesis 15:31-21; 17:3-8). There was also a promise in this covenant that through Abraham’s offspring or “seed” all the nations on earth would be blessed (Genesis 22:18).

The apostle Paul understood this “seed” to refer to Christ (Galatians 3:15-16, 19). Abraham was given a promise of God’s salvific intention in the world. A Savior would come who would rescue humanity. This was a promise of the “new” covenant given some 430 years before the “old” covenant was introduced! This is the point Paul argued in the book of Galatians.

There is an interesting aspect to the covenant God made with Abraham. It would have an unusual reminder or sign—that of the physical circumcision of males. We read the following in Genesis 17:9:

Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you…. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

About 430 years after the covenant was made with Abraham, the descendants born to his son Jacob or Israel were rescued by God from the land of Egypt. God brought his people into the Sinai desert and made a covenant with them. The original terms of this covenant extend from Exodus 20:1 to 23:32. Chapter 24 of Exodus details the ratification of this covenant. The people said, “Everything the Lord has said we will do” (verse 24).

What the Lord had said so far was that Israel was to keep the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20); follow certain laws regarding Hebrew slaves (Exodus 21:1-11); obey guidelines set down for personal injuries (Exodus 21:12-36); provide protection of property, including against theft (Exodus 22:1-15). The covenant also had regulations about fornication, sorcery, sexual relations with animals, idolatry, treatment of aliens, protection of widows and orphans, lending, blasphemy and other laws relating to justice and mercy (Exodus 22:16-23:13). The covenant also mandated for Israel the observance of the annual festivals in three seasons (Exodus 23:14-19).

This was what we may call a “package deal.” All the laws from Exodus 20:1 through 23:32 were a singular law system so far as the old covenant is concerned. They were all part of the same covenant.

God also described his part of the covenant. He would guide Israel into the Promised Land, take away illness from the nation, give people a full life span, and destroy their enemies (Exodus 23:20-33). This formed the old covenant between God and the people of Israel. The terms of the covenant became a book, a legal code, we might say. Moses “took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people” (Exodus 24:7). The people responded by saying: “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey” (verse 7). After which, the Lord told Moses to come up to the mountain and he would give him “tablets of stone, with the law and commands I have written for their instruction” (verse 12).

We should notice several important things about this “old” covenant. It includes not just the Ten Commandments but all the laws and regulations described in Exodus 20-23. All the laws are said to be “spoken” by the Lord, because he did, indeed, speak them. What happened was that after God began to speak directly to the people of Israel, they became so fearful of the magnificent theophany shaking Mt. Sinai that they begged Moses to speak to them in God’s place (Exodus 20:18-21). God agreed to their wishes. After that, he spoke his laws to Moses, and he passed them on to the people. But they were all equally God’s laws, and all were spoken by him.

There is only one law

There is no legal difference between the Ten Commandments and the rest of the covenantal law. They stand together as the basis of the old covenant to Israel. The law that mandated the delivery of first-born animals to God and leaving the land idle in the seventh year was just as important as the law of Sabbath rest or the law against adultery, in terms of the covenant. They were all, equally, part of the old covenant.

As noted above, the laws of the covenant as well as God’s promises were first written in a “book” or scroll. It contained all the laws in Exodus 20-23, and this entire book was the basis of the covenant. Moses had not yet gone up to the mountain to have these regulations written on tablets of stone.

As we progress through the first five books of the Jewish Holy Scriptures, we see that more laws were progressively added to the covenant. Other laws were further expounded, amplified and clarified. For example, Exodus 25 through 30 provides regulations for the building and ceremonies of the old covenant tabernacle. The tabernacle pattern and furniture were later transferred to the temple in Jerusalem. The temple worship system became the center of Jewish religious life. We see many references to this in the New Testament. The book of Hebrews, in particular, deals with the passing away of the Levitical priesthood and Jewish temple life. Jesus becomes the heavenly High Priest in the real temple.

We also learn in Exodus that, like circumcision, the Sabbaths—plural—served as a sign of the covenant between God and Israel. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites, “You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come”’” (Exodus 31:12). God told Moses that the weekly Sabbath was a sign of the old covenant: “It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever” (verse 17). God finished speaking and wrote the laws of the covenant on two tablets of stone.

We should note some interesting facts here. Both the annual Sabbaths and the weekly Sabbath served as a sign of the covenant between God and Israel. Further, the sign and the covenant created a relationship between Israel and God, not between all people of the earth and God. Also, we should note that, like circumcision, the annual and weekly Sabbath sign was to remain between Israel and God “forever.” That means, since circumcision could be ended as a physical requirement for Christians (the spiritual children of Abraham), it is possible that the physical demands of Sabbath-keeping and festival observance could also be ended.

With Moses on Mount Sinai, there follows a historical interlude in Exodus that deals with the incident of the golden calf. This causes Moses, when he returns to the camp, to break the tablets containing the words of God. Moses then must go back to the mountain so God can “write on them the words that were on the first tablets” (Exodus 34:1). On the mountain, God reiterates his intent to make a covenant with his people Israel (verse 10). He also repeats in an abbreviated form many of the regulations of the old covenant. (See Exodus 34:17-26.)

Most of the remaining chapters of Exodus are taken up with the making of the tabernacle and its parts, and the construction of its furniture and the priestly garments. This relates to the center of Israel’s religious life at the tabernacle, and later at the Jerusalem temple. Leviticus continues this theme by describing various offerings (Leviticus 1-7). The ninth chapter describes the priests beginning their ministry.

Laws relating to the functions of the Levitical priesthood and the temple worship service are important because almost all of Israel’s religious life was centered on these two realities. For example, the festivals were to be kept “in the place he [God] will choose as a dwelling for his Name” (Deuteronomy 16:5, 11, 16). Eventually, the place God chose was Jerusalem. This means that if the temple was destroyed or the priesthood supplanted, it would be impossible to fulfill God’s demands regarding festival observance.

Leviticus 11 lists clean and unclean living creatures. Chapters 12-15 continue the theme of “clean and unclean” with a discussion of purification after childhood, regulations about infectious skin diseases, the ritual cleansing after these diseases, and discharges causing uncleanness. The food laws of Leviticus 11 are but one part of an entire array of regulations regarding matters of ritual purification and cleanliness that Israel was to follow. We again observe that all the laws of the Mosaic Law are part of a greater whole, and they stand together.

Leviticus 16 details the Day of Atonement ritual. Chapters 17 through 19 mention various other covenantal laws that Israel was to follow, including specific laws about unlawful sexual relations. Over 20 laws are stated as “do nots” in chapter 19, and some others are stated in a positive way. This includes admonitions to do everything from keeping the annual Sabbaths (verse 3) to not holding back overnight the wages of a hired man (verse 13).

The two “great commandments”

Buried in these “do’s and don’ts” is one of the two most important and basic laws of both old and new covenants. It is simple: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). When asked about the “greatest commandment” of the Jewish Scriptures, Jesus said:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it; “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:37-40)

Here we have the astounding assertion that everything in the Law of Moses and the Prophets does not hang on the Ten Commandments, as most people erroneously assume. It hangs on two inconspicuous statements inserted in two widely separated parts of the Law of Moses! (The “greatest commandment” is found in Deuteronomy 6:5.) The popular preoccupation with the Ten Commandments is somewhat misguided. The essence of the Law of Moses is not in the Ten but in two simple statements in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

Going back to Leviticus 19, Israel is told: “Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the Lord” (verse 30). The sanctuary was first found in the moveable tabernacle and later in the temple. Consider the following. If God would allow the sanctuary to be destroyed and thus to end the ministry of the Levitical priesthood, he could also allow an end to the observance of his Sabbaths. The book of Hebrews speaks to this. It says that in God’s purpose, the entire old covenant religious system was ended by Jesus’ redemptive work.

Leviticus 20-26:3 lists further regulations that Israel was to keep as part of its covenant with God. These included everything from avoiding adultery to rules for priestly function to guidelines for keeping the seven annual festivals and the year of Jubilee. This section contains some familiar commandments discussed earlier as well as some new ones. We see a progression or further amplification of covenantal regulations, as well as the adding of more stipulations. Like a progressive code of law, the terms of the covenant increase. But they still form a single body of law applied to a specific nation, Israel.

Leviticus 26 begins with God telling Israel what he will do in exchange for Israel’s obedience to all the commands that have so far been described. He begins his list of promises by saying, “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will…” (verse 3). God also details the curses that will follow if Israel fails to obey God.

The “Book of the Law” we have so far looked at ends with the statement: “These are the decrees, the laws and the regulations that the Lord established on Mount Sinai between himself and the Israelites through Moses” (verse 46). The entire regulatory system, as it is now described, must be seen as a unit—as a single law given from Mount Sinai. All its component parts and laws stand together. If Israel sins in one point, the nation is guilty in all points. All the laws given so far are equally the laws of the Lord.

Numbers 1 begins one year after Israel left Egypt (verse 1). The material refers to events during the years of Israel’s wanderings. There are also discussions of the various laws of the covenant in the context of specific situations. Some new material is added, but most of this book is not pertinent to our purposes.

The law restated in Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy takes place near the end of Israel’s 40 years of wandering (1:3). This book gives us a restatement of the laws of the covenant. Moses says, “Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you” (Deuteronomy 4:1).

The restatement of the law of the covenant begins in chapter 5 with a review of the Ten Commandments. Here we learn why Israel was to keep the Sabbath holy by resting from work. Moses says to Israel: “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day” (verse 15).

The Sabbath was for Israel, so that they could remember being saved from servitude in Egypt, where they had no rest. For them, the Sabbath did not look ahead to Christ so much as it looked backward to Israel’s rescue from Egypt. We can see why the physical Sabbath rest is not for Christians, whose rescue and “rest” is a spiritual one. In Christ, we rest from the slavery of sin, and not from physical labor in a condition of national slavery.

In Egypt, the people had no rest from their labors (Exodus 1:11-14). God brought them to a land “flowing with milk and honey” so they could enjoy the fruit of their labor. There, they were to remember that God was the source of their prosperity and ease. Parents were to teach their children this central aspect of God’s saving grace to Israel, that he had brought them out of bondage and slavery in Egypt (Exodus 13:14). For Israel, the Sabbath was a sign of the covenant in that it reminded them that God was the source of their liberation and happy prosperity.

We saw in Exodus 24:12 that the tablets of stone contained the “laws and commands” that were written by God for Israel’s instruction. In Deuteronomy there is further explanation. Moses recounts that the tablets were to contain “all the commandments the Lord proclaimed to you on the mountain out of the fire, on the day of the assembly” (9:10). In chapter 10, Moses refers to the material on the tablets as “the Ten Commandments” (verse 4).

No matter how much was written on the tablets, the fact is that all the laws of Exodus 20-23form the regulatory code of the old covenant in its original form. Later, the new and amplified laws of the other parts of the Law of Moses become part of the legal code system of Israel. This was not a one-law or a ten-law covenant – the covenant contained hundreds of regulations.

Deuteronomy 12 through 26:15 also becomes part of this legal code of the old covenant. There are many familiar laws, amplified or put in another context. There are also some new items. Moses restated the fact that Israel had a covenant with God, based on the law system that the nation had promised to uphold:

You have declared this day that the Lord is your God and that you will walk in his ways, that you will keep his decrees, commands and laws, and that you will obey him. And the Lord has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised, and that you are to keep all his commands. (Deuteronomy 26:17-18)

Israel, if it follows the commands of the covenant, will be “high above all the nations” and a “people holy to the Lord” (verse 19). But Israel must keep all of God’s commandments as though they were one unit. Both Paul and James understand the Law in this sense (James 2:10-11; Galatians 3:10). This becomes like a final covenant promise (Deuteronomy 29:1).

The people are commanded to set up large stones in the Promised Land. They are to write on these stones “all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 27:2-3, 8). Before they enter the land, curses are pronounced on evildoers. In chapter 28, blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience are restated, as they were in Leviticus 26.

The last chapters of Deuteronomy highlight this final covenant ratification and its implication for the Israelites. The nation is to “carefully follow the terms of this covenant” so the people can prosper in all that they do (Deuteronomy 29:9). The covenant is a fulfillment of the promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and it applies to all the descendants of Israel (verses 12-14). Torah or the Law of Moses becomes the covenantal “Book of the Law” for the nation (verse 21).

All or nothing

This detailed summary of the old covenant legal system is meant to help us understand the conditions under which the Sabbath day and the other Mosaic legal requirements apply. The entire law code described in Exodus 20 through the end of Deuteronomy is the basis of the old covenant—not just a single law, or a few laws found therein.

All the laws are of equal importance in a covenantal context. If a person sins by breaking one law, then such a person is “guilty” of breaking the covenant itself. Since all the laws are equally part of the same covenant, we cannot use the old covenant to “prove” any particular law while admitting that some of its other laws are obsolete. Since the covenant is obsolete, a different authority is needed to prove any particular law. We cannot pick and choose without having another authority to tell us what to pick.

But if we are considering the force of the old covenant, the point has to be made that no law of that covenant is isolated as of special significance. No grouping of laws—like the Ten Commandments—is more important than any other grouping. No individual law—such as the weekly Sabbath—is more important than another. This is seen in the fact that the two “greatest laws” of Torah are not singled out or emphasized in any way. They are barely visible in the contexts in which they appear in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

The question to be solved in terms of the application of the Law of Moses is not whether a specific law might apply to Christians. The covenant, composed of God’s promises and Israel’s agreement to uphold Torah, is a unit. One cannot say that one or a few laws of the old covenant Book of the Law—such as Sabbath, Festivals, food laws, strict tithing—apply to Christians. Either the old covenant as a covenant (or the Book of the Law as a single law code) applies to Christians in entirety, or none of it applies. The package is valid, or it is not.

All arguments to try to “prove” that the rest command of the Sabbath as an individual law must be observed or certain foods avoided, for example, are faulty arguments. These claims must be tested against one fundamental question: Must Christians obey the old covenant legal system in its totality—all 613 laws contained in that system—or none of it?

However, there are eternal, “spiritual laws” that govern relationships between humans and between humans and God. These laws governed relationships before the Mosaic Law was enacted. They were included in the Law of Moses, but their validity does not rest on the old covenant. They therefore they continue to govern human conduct after the annulment of the old covenant. The commandment to love God above all else would be a prime example of such a law (Deuteronomy 6:5).

These “spiritual laws” are incorporated into the new covenant “Law of Christ,” and are expounded in the New Testament. (See below, “Sin and virtue lists” and “Mosaic Law unnecessary,” for further details.) Thus, we come back to the fundamental question: Are Christians obligated to keep the entire Mosaic legal system or not?

The New Testament evidence

Let us now look at the New Testament witness to these matters. By Jesus’ day, the covenantal literature of Israel included not only the Law of Moses but also the Prophets and Writings. These were the Holy Scriptures of the Jews, or the Christian Old Testament. This body of writing is sometimes called the “Law, Prophets and Psalms” (Luke 24:44). At other times it is referred to by the term “Law and Prophets” (Matthew 5:17), or simply “the Law” (John 15:25).

The books of Exodus through Deuteronomy (along with the circumcision law in Genesis) constituted the basis of the covenantal law between God and Israel. This part of Scripture was called the Law of Moses, or referred to as the law that “Moses gave” (John 7:19, 22-23). All the laws and commentary in the books of Moses are part of the same cloth.

We come now to the dawning of new covenant times with the arrival and work of Jesus. The first thing we notice is that the Jews were surprised by Jesus. He was not a conquering Messiah, as most had expected him to be. (Perhaps the Maccabees of two centuries earlier had fixed the idea of a warrior Messiah in Jewish expectation.) Jesus seemed to speak of a somewhat different sort of redemptive work than was expected. Jesus said he would die for the sins of the people. He would not redeem people simply because they had the Law of Moses and appeared to obey it, nor would he save people because they were born as Israelites.

Jesus seemed to imply that the most pious of the people—the religious leaders—were not the best candidates for the kingdom of God (Matthew 23). To all appearances, the Pharisees and others loved God and would be among the vanguard of a people called to follow the Messiah to victory over the enemies of Israel. Surely, they would have the best positions in the kingdom of God by reason of their zealousness for Torah. But Jesus was said that this idea was wrong. The kingdom would be taken away from them and given to others (Matthew 21:43-46).

God sent Jesus to create a new people from all nations through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Further, he was not at that time interested in creating a powerful political unit that would, in effect, rule the world. Jesus would save eternally those who put their faith and trust in him as Savior (John 3:16). This became the new covenant in Jesus’ blood. He was bringing and offering a different covenant from the old covenant – one that had been planned all along, but now unveiled in Jesus.

However, Jesus made it clear that he was not out to abolish what the Hebrew Scriptures stood for. Jesus said: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17).

The Jewish Scriptures pointed to Jesus and his redeeming work, and were fulfilled in his work (Luke 24:25-27, 44; John 5:39-47). Jesus was the object of the Law and Prophets, as even Moses had said: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him” (Deuteronomy 18:15). Jesus pointed out that a greater law—we can call it the “law of Christ”—should govern human thought and actions. He made his point by contrasting what the Law of Moses said (“You have heard that it was said…”) with what he now said (“But I tell you…”). See Matthew 5:21-48 for six examples.

During his earthly ministry, Jesus told his hearers to obey the Law of Moses. He said to a man he healed of leprosy: “Go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing” (Luke 5:14). Jesus worshipped at and upheld the sanctity of the temple (Matthew 12-13). He told his disciples and the Jewish people to obey the teachers of the
law and the Pharisees, who he said sat “in Moses’ seat” (Matthew 23:1). Naturally, these individuals would have taught obedience to the Law of Moses.

Jesus told his disciples to go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, upholding the notion of Israel as the special people of God. Jesus came as a Jew to Israel as the covenant people of God. “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him,” said John (John 1:11).

But since Jesus worked in an old covenant context, we cannot say that his remarks about a particular Mosaic law means that one of its isolated commandments—like the Sabbath, or festivals or food laws—must be kept by Christians. Jesus commanded sacrifices, obedience to the religious leaders who would be teaching all of the Law of Moses, and temple worship. Before his crucifixion, he upheld the notion of a national covenant people. If we say that Jesus’ remarks in the Gospels tell Christians to keep the Sabbath rest commandment, then we must accept all of the commandments of the Law of Moses as being binding, including physical circumcision. He upheld them all, before his crucifixion. Clearly, something else is in view in Jesus’ remarks about the Law, the Sabbath or some other Mosaic regulation or promise.

Jesus did not change anything in terms of old covenant worship until his redemptive work was accomplished. However, he did imply during his ministry that things would change in the future. The kingdom of God was to be taken away from those who represented the Law of Moses and “given to a people who will produce its fruit” (Matthew 21:43). The people of God would no longer worship at the temple in Jerusalem, but they would worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:21-24).

After his resurrection, Jesus told the disciples that rather than limiting their evangelizing work to Israel, as he had counseled during his lifetime, they must go to all the world (Acts 1:8). Shortly thereafter, Peter learned through a vision that the feared and hated Gentiles were also being
called to be among the people of God (Acts 10:9-15). A new age of the Spirit had begun. A new covenant had come into force.

The church began on the day of Pentecost in the year that Jesus was crucified and resurrected. At first it was composed almost entirely of Jews. Even Pharisees and priests were converted to the faith (Acts 6:7; 15:5). But many of these people were still zealous for the Law of Moses (Acts 21:20). This caused a problem for the church.

Many Jewish Christians did not see clearly that the new covenant had supplanted the old, and that this had profoundly impacted the authority of the Law of Moses and Israel’s religious system. For example, these former Jewish religious leaders still viewed physical circumcision as a sign between God and his people. They saw the Law of Moses as a binding legal document for anyone who wanted to become part of this people.

That is why in Acts 15 the believers of the party of the Pharisees claimed: “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses” (emphasis ours, verse 5). They didn’t say, Gentiles must keep the Sabbath or the food laws or some other singular law of the Mosaic system. Rather, the Pharisees said “obey the law of Moses.” The Jews understood that the entire Law of Moses was a unit—and that the authority of this law as a complete and unified legal compact in the Gentile Christian life was the issue.

They knew that the old covenant did not apply to Gentiles. It was only for Israel. Gentiles were to follow a more generalized law called the “Noachian Laws.” But if any Gentile wanted to become part of the people of Israel—that is, to become a “full Jew”—he or she would be obligated to keep the Law of Moses. The Jewish Christians probably reasoned from this principle that in order to become a part of God’s spiritual people, Gentiles must first become God’s physical people by keeping the Law of Moses. It was easy to reason that way because most Jews apparently thought of the Christians—at least in the early years—as simply members of another Jewish sect. The only difference was that Christians had accepted Jesus as Messiah.

Thus, religious Jews who had been converted to Christianity were implying that for Gentiles to be part of God’s people, they would have to be circumcised and keep all 613 laws of the Law of Moses. The issue of contention was not a specific law such as Sabbath-keeping, but the Law of Moses in its entirety. (The argument in Acts 15 wasn’t over Sabbath or festival observance, but over the full Mosaic Law.)

The issue of the role of the Law of Moses in the lives of Gentile Christians became more troublesome as more Gentiles became converted. This led to the convening of the historic council of Acts 15 around AD 50 to consider this important matter. It became clear to the assembled elders and apostles that Gentiles had been called and converted apart from any obedience to the regulations of the Law of Moses. The assembly concluded that Gentiles did not need to keep the commandments of the Law of Moses or be circumcised. They did not need to keep the Sabbath, nor the food laws, nor tithing, nor the annual festivals. This explains why no separate law, such as Sabbath-keeping, was discussed. The entire Law of Moses, and its accompanying religious institutions, were seen to be passé, or obsolete.

This was conveyed to the Gentile churches in an apostolic letter mentioned in Acts 15. Gentiles were asked to hold to only four regulations that could be said to be Mosaic: abstention from the meat of strangled animals, from food polluted by idols, from blood and from sexual immorality (Acts 15:19-20, 29). Naturally, all Christians would have been commanded to avoid sexual immorality. The three other regulations had to do with foods, and may have been enjoined on Gentiles so that they would not offend the sensibilities of Jewish Christians, or unconverted Jews in the synagogues. Both Jewish Christians and, in many cases, Gentile Christians would be attending the Jewish synagogue, and it was important not to bring offense. The church wanted to keep in the good graces of the Jewish religious community and to keep peace between the church and the synagogue.

But, even here, Paul later seemed to rescind, under special circumstances, the regulation against eating meat that had been offered to idols (1 Corinthians 8:4-13). The reason the Acts 15 council imposed a ban on eating meat offered to idols in pagan ceremonies, and later sold in the meat markets, had to do with conscience only. Eating such meat would greatly offend Christian Jews who still believed that idolatry made the meat sinful. The reasoning was, why make trouble over something inconsequential in terms of the gospel message? The ban on such foods had nothing to do with any lingering authority of the Law of Moses upon Gentile Christians, as the council had decided it had no such authority.

The Galatians controversy

Nonetheless, the question of whether Gentile Christians should keep the Law of Moses continued to be a controversy within the church. The pressure to have Gentiles be circumcised and follow the Mosaic Law came from converted Jews or Judaizers. We can see this controversy in full bloom in the book of Galatians.

In this very strong letter, Paul brands this idea as a “different gospel,” which was really a perversion of the true gospel (Galatians 1:1-7). Paul makes several points about this issue. He says Christians cannot be justified by observing the Law of Moses and righteousness cannot be gained through its observance (Galatians 2:16, 21). Those who look to the Law of Moses as their spiritual authority, even though they may “believe” in Christ, are still in bondage (Galatians 4:21-31).

In fact, those who preach that observing the Mosaic Law is necessary are under a curse, said Paul. He referred to the Scripture that says, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law” (Galatians 3:10). This point is obvious from our panoramic view of the law material in the books from Exodus through Deuteronomy. We cannot pick and choose which specific law (such as Sabbath-keeping) we think should be obeyed. It’s an all-or-nothing situation.

Paul says: “I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law” (Galatians 5:3). We can write in any Mosaic law in the place of the word circumcised”—such as Sabbath-keeping—with the same conclusion. If a person feels obligated to keep the Sabbath, then logic says that the person should keep all the laws of Moses, because the only place that the Sabbath is commanded is in the law of Moses. If it is still valid for the Sabbath law, it is valid for the other laws, too.

What had occurred at least since the period of the Maccabees is that the Jews had emphasized several laws from the Mosaic Law as “boundary marker” practices. These distinguished Jews from Gentiles and kept the Jews separate and “pure.” Among these boundary marker beliefs were circumcision, the food laws of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, the keeping of the Sabbath and the observance of the holy days.

Except for circumcision, we can see the interesting parallel between the Judaizing Christians of the apostolic church and people who still teach that Christians should observe the seventh-day Sabbath and annual holy days. For a thorough discussion of how the Jews had adopted “boundary marker” practices from the Law of Moses as a litmus test of being a part of the “in” group—that is, a part of the people of God—see the book Jesus, Paul, and the Law, by James D.G. Dunn.

The biblical book that most thoroughly deals with the abrogation of the Law of Moses and the old covenant religious system is Hebrews. It begins with a defense of Jesus as the high priest of God’s people (3:1). This implies that the authority of the Aaronic high priest of the Mosaic covenant, who stood as the representative between God and Israel, had been superseded by Jesus. As the mediator of the old covenant, Moses was great, but Jesus is greater. (John 5:39-46 with Hebrews 3:4-6).

The Sabbath as metaphor

In Christ, the physical Sabbath rest is seen to be a metaphor for the spiritual rest of salvation that God’s people now have (4:1-11). However, it’s not that the Sabbath rest commandment was “changed” and that we keep the Sabbath as “holy time” in terms of “a spiritual rest.” The Sabbath is a symbol for Christians, in the same way that other elements of the Mosaic institution are symbols. We can look at other old covenant practices and institutions (such as the high priest’s office, burnt offerings, dwelling in tents during the Festival of Tabernacles), and see metaphorical meanings that symbolize aspects of Jesus’ redemptive work. That’s what the Mosaic Law points to, is fulfilled in and is superseded by that work. Those old covenant laws are instructive as symbols and metaphors, but they are not valid as laws about Christian behavior.

We can see the same principle at work in physical circumcision. For new covenant Christians, it serves only as a metaphor of the fact that we are cleansed of our sins and have a new birth in Christ. “Circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code,” Paul
wrote in Romans 2:29.

In the same way, Hebrews 4 tells us that Sabbath-keeping is of the spirit. It points to the salvation rest we have in Christ. The physical Sabbath rest command is not performed by Christians in the way it was specified in the old covenant written code, the Law of Moses.

Hebrews explains that the entire system of the old covenant law as carried out by the high priest and the Levitical priesthood has come to an end. Another High Priest, Jesus, has come in the order of Melchizedek (7:1-11). This necessitates a change in the law (verse 12). “The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God” (verses 18-19). This better hope is the new covenant, which provides the indwelling Holy Spirit, and with it comes salvation. Those who are saved under the new covenant are not obligated to obey the Law of Moses, but to obey the “law of Christ.”

However, some people object to the idea that the Mosaic Law (which includes the Ten Commandments) is “done away.” They retort, “Well, then, does that mean we can kill, steal or commit adultery?” Of course not. No Christian would teach or believe such an absurdity.

Let’s pose the question another way to show it has no validity: “If the Law of Moses is done away, does this mean we don’t have to love God and our neighbor?” Obviously, Christians continue to love God and neighbor—and they do not break any of the spiritual principles found throughout the Mosaic Law—because that is the Christian thing to do—and it is what the New Testament clearly tells us to do. But this obedience is based on the law of Christ, not the Law of Moses. People were supposed to love God and neighbor from the very beginning of creation. The old covenant included those two laws, but it did not begin them, and the law of love therefore did not end when the old covenant ended.

Sin and virtue lists

The idea that any Christian church would teach that we can sin because the Law of Moses has been “done away” is preposterous. What has happened for Christians is that the Law of Moses has been replaced by the law of Christ. (That is one aspect of the Christian becoming a “slave” to Christ.)

For anyone willing to look at the facts, and to think in terms of the New Testament witness as a whole, it spells out clearly how Christians are to live. A quick look at one or more of the so-called “sin lists” or “virtue lists” in the New Testament should dispel the notion that Christians can sin because the old covenant Law of Moses has been “done away.”

(See the following lists as examples—Matthew 5:3-11; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 4:32; 6:14-20; Philippians 4:8; 1 Timothy 3:2-13; Titus 1:6-9; Mark 7:21-22; Romans 1:29-32; 13:8-14; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Corinthians 5:9-11; 6:9-10; Ephesians 4:25-31; 5:3-5; Colossians 3:5-9; 2 Timothy 3:1-5.)

Let us briefly refer to one of them. Galatians 5:13-25 shows the new covenant “law of Christ,” though it doesn’t label it with that particular terminology. Paul begins by saying that Christians should keep the second great law of God: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (5:14). He points out that if we live by the indwelling Holy Spirit, we will “not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (5:16). Paul points out the kinds of sins Christians under the “law of Christ” will avoid. This includes everything from sexual immorality to idolatry to drunkenness to selfish ambition.

Paul next points out some fruits of the Holy Spirit. These include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Christians will have crucified the sinful nature itself, not only sinful acts, through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Mosaic Law unnecessary

Christians do not need the Law of Moses, including the Ten Commandments, as a direction for their lives. They know what they must do to obey God from the New Testament witness. Christians also do not need the Mosaic Law as a “tutor,” because they have the indwelling Holy Spirit as their Paraclete or Counselor—whom Jesus sent. He is with them forever (John 14:15-21 with Galatians 3:23-25).

In Romans 7:1 Paul points out that the Law of Moses has authority over a person “only as long as he lives.” (Of course, it had authority only over the Jewish person; Paul is writing to Jews at this point.) He uses the example of a married woman who was bound to her husband while the
husband was alive. When he died, she was free. Even though she remarried, she was not called an adulteress.

Paul uses this analogy to point out that Christians have died to the Law of Moses (which includes the package called the Ten Commandments) “through the body of Christ” (Romans 7:4). They now belong to another—to the risen Christ. “We have been released from the law,” says Paul, “so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” (verse 6). If Paul could say this to Jews, how much more would it apply to Gentiles, who were never under the written code of the Law of Moses to begin with!

Many more things could be said about these matters from New Testament Scripture. The above discussion, however, should make it evident that Christians are not required to keep the Law of Moses (including the Ten Commandments). Sabbatarians cannot “pick and choose” a few boundary marker observances such as Sabbath-keeping and insist Christians must keep them. But Christians are not in some lawless limbo as a result of not being obligated to the Law of Moses. They have the New Testament “law of Christ” and the Holy Spirit to guide them.


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