Wayne Greeson, a preacher for the church of Christ, hosted a Bible call-in radio program four days a week in Northwest Arkansas. John Zecca and Michael Mastropalo, are members of the Assembly of Yahweh.
Zecca contacted Greeson on the program and they discussed whether we are bound to keep the Sabbath law. Greeson soon discovered that Zecca was not just a Sabbatarian, but believed that we are bound today by all of the law of the Old Testament. Greeson takes the position that we are not under the law of the Old Testament, but under the law of Christ found in the New Testament.
Greeson proposed to debate Zecca on the radio program on the question of "What law are we under today?" Zecca agreed and requested that Mastropalo assist him in such a debate.
The debate was held on January 15, 16, 17 and 19, 2001, on KURM radio which broadcasts to the northwest corner of Arkansas and reaches into northeastern Oklahoma and southwestern Missouri.
One of the beliefs of the "Assembly of Yahweh" is that the name of God is "Yahweh" and the name of Jesus is "Yahshua." Throughout the debate Zecca and Mastropalo always replaced the terms "Lord" and "God" with "Yahweh" and the name Jesus with "Yahshua." While Greeson referred to the Law given under the Old Testament as the "Law of Moses," Zecca and Mastropalo preferred the term "The Law of Yahweh." Greeson limited the Law only to the Law given at Mt. Sinai to Moses for the Jews and it's application throughout the Old Testament. Zecca and Mastropalo intended their term to include all of God's instructions and commandments throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Zecca and Mastropalo believed and argued that the Law given to Moses at Mt. Sinai was given for all men for all time. To them certain portions of that Law do not apply to all individuals. Some portions of the Law may have applied only the Jews or the priests or even only for a certain period of time. Some parts of the Law, such as the Levitical priesthood and animal sacrifices were changed by the Messiah and some commands were added but they argue that the Law itself continues.
Matthew 5:17-19 is a favorite passage for Sabbatarians and it was often raised and discussed in this debate. Zecca argued from Matthew 5:17-19 that Jesus came not to abolish the Law but to keep the Law perfectly. Greeson pointed out that Jesus said he came to fulfill the Law and Prophets and that the Law was to pass away when Jesus did so. Christ said he came to fulfill all things written of him (Luke 24:44) and he did fulfill all, therefore the Law passed away. Mastropalo argued that Jesus did come and fulfill the prophecies and keep the Law but not all would fulfilled until He came as "King of the planet." Greeson replied that Jesus is reigning as "Lord of lords and King of kings" now, therefore he has fulfilled all the prophecies.
Zecca made several references to Acts 21:18-24. He argued that Paul took a vow to dispel the rumor that he did not keep the Law. Zecca used Paul's actions to attempt to prove that if the apostle Paul kept the Law, then we should follow his example.
Greeson responded to Acts 21:18-24 and Paul's vow by referring back to Acts 15. In verse 5 controversy arose over whether Gentiles converts should be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses. Peter described the Law as a yoke that could not be borne. The apostles' concluded that the Gentiles were not bound to be circumcised or keep the Law of Moses. Paul's conduct in Acts 21 was in keeping with his principle he described in 1 Corinthians 9:21, to act as one under the Law with the Jews to win them to Christ. And James reiterated to Paul the decision made earlier in Acts 15.
Greeson read Romans 6:14 which says we are "not under Law but under Grace."It is interesting to note that although Greeson referred several times to this passage throughout the debate, Zecca's only response was to simply say faith established law. Greeson agreed that Faith establishes law, but asked what law does it establish? Faith under Christ cannot establish the Old Testament Law as Paul clearly compares that Law to a dead spouse in Romans 7:1-4. We are no longer bound to the Old Testament Law but to Christ.
Greeson pointed to Galatians 3 where Paul argued that all the promises were fulfilled in and through Christ, therefore the Law has passed away. Today we are under the "Law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2) as Jesus is God's spokesman (Heb. 1:2), not the Law given through Moses. First Corinthians 9:19-21 proves the Law was given to the Jews, whereas the Law of Christ was given to all men. Romans 6:14 says we are not under the Law but we are under the Grace of Jesus Christ. Mastropalo argued that there was no "Law of Christ" but that Galatians 6:2 was only telling us to bear one another's burdens. He then implied that this was one of Paul's difficult writings hard to understand and easily twisted. (This kind of response was frequent. Instead of simply answering an argument, Zecca and Mastropalo several times would simply dismiss it by saying Paul was hard to understand and easily twisted.)
Greeson responded by arguing that Galatians 6:2 clearly tells us there is "the Law of Christ" and the whole book of Galatians makes a distinction between the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 9:21, Paul makes a clear contrast between the Law of Christ which applied to Jew and Gentile alike and the Law that only the Jews were under.
Although Greeson did not use Colossians 2:14-16 to argue against Zecca and Mastropalo's position, they apparently felt it necessary to respond to it. Although Paul wrote that Christ wiped out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, they argued that since neither the Sabbath or any other part of the Law was actually contrary to us, Paul could not have been referring to the Law. Their position was that Paul was referring to the religious practices of the pagan Gentiles. Further, since the laws pertaining to food and drink, feast days and Sabbaths were shadows of things yet to come and therefore still applicable to Christians. Greeson did not spend any time responding to this unique twist letting the passage speak for itself.
Greeson showed Galatians 3:19 states that the Law was till Christ should come. When Jesus came the Law was done. Galatians 3:23-25 goes on to state the Law was only a tutor to bring us to Christ but when Christ came we are no longer under that tutor or Law. Zecca responded saying although we are not under the tutor we do not forget everything instructed by the tutor.
Greeson argued that Galatians 3:25 states we are no longer under the tutor or Law. Certainly we remember the lessons and examples of the Law but we are not bound or under that Law. Greeson pointed out we can learn lessons from Adam and Eve or Noah but we are not under the same Law that they were under. The Law of Moses was given to the Jews and not to us. Moses stated it was for those who came out of Egypt and further under that Law the Jews were not even to associate with Gentiles. Greeson pointed out that Zecca as a Gentile was never under the Law and excluded from it.
In the affirmative Greeson emphasized Jesus' authority (Mt. 29:18); that he now reigns on the throne as "Lord of lords and King of kings" (Acts 2:36; Rev. 17:14) and that the Father has committed all judgment and authority to Jesus (Isa. 9:6; Jn. 5:22; 17:2). Greeson asked the pointed questions: Is Christ Ruler without His Rules? Is Christ Lord without His Law? Is Christ King without His commandments to His Kingdom? He argued that Galatians 6:2 and 1 Corinthians 9:20-21 clearly show that Christ does have a law and that this law is not the Law of Moses. This was another passage that neither Zecca nor Mastropalo ever really dealt with directly. They used their time in the negative to go back to arguments made in the first two days, specifically Acts 15.
One particular argument Greeson made that Zecca and Mastropalo had great trouble with was dealing with was their failure to keep all the Law. Greeson observed that Zecca and Mastropalo did not observe the Law as they did not keep all its penalties, nor the full and proper observance of the all the feasts, nor the animal sacrifices and their proper place of observance, Jerusalem. They were not the proper people of observance, the people of Israel, and they added or substituted feasts which Moses never commanded. They took away the observance of the Sabbath law, which included sacrifices on the altar in the tabernacle and penalties for breaking the Sabbath and added their own Sabbath law which Moses never spoke of. Greeson pointed out they could not just keep just a piece or part of the Law of Moses. Moses said, you obey all and do not add or take away from the Law. And Paul said in Galatians 5:3, if one tries to keep part of the Law "he is a debtor to do the whole Law." The very weak response was that God did not expect them to keep all of these laws if they were unable to and Christ took away the penalty of the Law only and left the Law for us to observe.
This is but a very brief summation of only a few of the many arguments and passages used in this debate. The importance of the issue discussed in this debate cannot be overstated. Many are without proper teaching and understanding of the differences between the Old Testament and the New Testament and between the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ. Some are attracted to the Yahweh movement and other similar groups who would return to the rituals and practices of the Law of Moses. Paul warned of the very real danger to those who turn back to the Law, Christ is of no effect, Galatians 5:4. This debate is recommended as an excellent study and help on this very important subject.