THE WCG TEACHING UNDER
THE LATE JOSEPH TKACH SR.
THE OLD AND NEW COVENANT AND
AN ANSWER BY
Solomon wrote that there was nothing new under the sun. So it
is with what Joseph Tkach wrote a few years before his death
concerning the Old and New Covenants together with the Sabbath
commandment. From his writings the Worldwide Church of God have
adopted the Roman Catholic and Protestant understanding and
teaching concerning the Sabbath day as it is defined by them in
connection with the Old and New Covenants.
There was much to agree with in the writings of Tkach on these
subjects. I will not quote what I agreed with but where I
disagreed with his theology. This series of articles concerns my
answers and replies to his arguments on the Covenant/ Sabbath
WORLDWIDE NEWS - DECEMBER 27TH, 1994
"In this letter, I want to spend some time 'taking stock' of
where we are as the Church of God. God has led us closer to Him
and given us a deeper and richer understanding of the
gospel......Some wish we could have a 'slower pace of
change' .......Please understand I'm not making change just for
the sake of change.
But as I feel Christ leads the Church, I cannot continue a
teaching I feel He has led us to understand is erroneous......."
Many should and are finding that the new teaching of being
able to work on the Sabbath (if their boss demands it, or if not
working means they will loose their job or not acquire the job),
VERY EASY to accept, IF they are not reading the whole Bible and
are blindly believing J. Tkach was one of the end time inspired
apostles who had been given more light and more truth than others
that went before him.
WORLDWIDE NEWS - JANUARY 10TH, 1995
".......As I say, we have often overlooked the implications of
this new covenant, and that is what I want to focus on in this
letter.......Each person will want to obey God not because of
some list of rules written down somewhere, but because he or
she has an obedient attitude - a circumcised heart.......People
will keep the spirit of the law......."
Here we see the human reasonings and emotions of many others
who say, "I do not want God listing rules for me to have to
obey. I do not want Him telling me in black and white what I must
or must not do. I want to be able to serve Him because I love
Him. I want to keep the spirit of the law from my own good
intentions and not because He tells me what is right and what is
This argument reminds me of the Biblical Church of God in
California some years back (after Fred Coulter and I had resigned
from their organization). They came out with a thick study paper
on "Tithing," claiming it was "done away" under the New Covenant.
But at the end of it all, they claimed that a Christian (who has
an income and profit) would have to give at least 10% to God's
work if his heart was right with the "spirit of the law."
It blew my mind when I read all this, for they could not see what
they had done. They had cast aside God's law as if it was old
rags and established their OWN law and rules to serve God. They
had taught their readers and members that the law of the Lord was
NOT to be obeyed while establishing their own way of
righteousness, that in this case ended up the same - a Christian
making a profit should be giving at least 10% and more if his
heart was with God, for after all, "where your heart is there
will be your treasure also."
The BCG just did not want God TELLING them WHAT to DO! They
did not want written rules to follow. They wanted God to allow
them to make their OWN rules and serve Him from the wonderful
"goodness" of the circumcised heart, and because he or she had an
obedient mind set willing to follow the rules it created for
itself to worship the Eternal with.
The BCG in their "tithing" teaching, and the WCG in their
"Covenant/Sabbath" teaching have FORGOTTEN the TWO basic pillars
of the foundation to serve God.
1. GOD DOES NOT GIVE US THE RIGHT TO DECIDE HOW WE WILL
WORSHIP HIM ! It is HE who tells us the HOW, the WHEN, the WHAT,
and the WHY to serve Him in spirit and in truth. Jesus said, "Thy
(The Father's) Word is truth." And He also said, "Man shall not
live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the
mouth of God." EVERY WORD my friend is the WHOLE BIBLE! Sure,
some things the New Testament(NT from here on) shows are
DIFFERENT under the "age of grace" as some call it, but the basic
10 COMMANDMENTS as amplified by both Old and New Covenants
STAND FIRM AND SURE. I submit to you that any child (not filled
with pre-conceived ideas taught them by the mouth of adults) can
come to the knowledge of the truth I have stated. I know for a
fact it is so. I PERSONALLY KNOW THIS TRUTH, for I have been
I did not come to this truth that the laws of the Eternal
stand fast forever because Herbert Armstrong and the
Worldwide Church of God taught it to me through their
literature. I was a dedicated and enthusiastic Sunday School
attender from the age of 6 years old. I attended a Church of
England school all my life to grade 12. The Bible was the first
lesson (for one half hour) each school-day morning. I loved
reading the word of the Lord. I was taught the laws of God were
good and should be obeyed. I was taught to memorize them just as
found in Exodus chapter 20. I was never taught nor did I ever
hear from my teachers that Sunday was the first day of the
week. I grew up believing Sunday was the 7th day of the week. It
was not until I was 19 years old that the truth of Sunday being
the first day came to me through my Baptist landlord, and my
study in the local public library, after coming to Western
I had read the Bible and understood enough about what God said
concerning His Holy Laws (both in the letter and in the spirit)
NOT TO BE TAKEN IT by the North American fundamental (I came to
call them funny-mental) preachers, who were teaching that the
Sabbath had been "done away" under the NT. Oh, the other NINE
they said should be observed, but the 4th one....the
Sabbath.....well that one was not important any more. Our
societies we live in just make it too hard to keep that 4th
commandment, they said.
The WCG have jumped into the same bed with the funny-mental
guys, and they both have forgotten DEUTERONOMY 12:29-32,
especially verse 32, "What thing soever I COMMAND you, OBSERVE to
do it: you shall not ADD thereto, nor DIMINISH from it."
The Bible is full of direct teaching and examples that give
forth the plain truth that we cannot serve God in the way WE
choose. But we are to worship and serve Him THE WAY He tells us!
And some of those ways are with lists of rules and regulations
written down for us. How silly to think otherwise. What confusion
would arise to believe everyone can serve the Father with what he
thinks is right or wrong in his own eyes. What utter foolishness
to think that the heart of man - even with God's Spirit - can
have an obedient attitude and keep the spirit of the law without
the law written down, so we can know what that law is. God's
laws ARE written down and that is the truth of the matter, pure
and simple. He wants us to KNOW THEM. To read them. To study
them. To mediate on them. To teach them to our children. To love
them. You need to read Deut. 4:1-14; Ps.1; 19:7-10; 111; 119;
just for starters, then you may want to do a deep study in the
word concerning God's commandments and laws. Using STRONG'S
CONCORDANCE of the Bible, read every verse where the words law,
commandments, statutes, precepts, are found in both Old and New
2. The leaders of the WCG have forgotten how DECEIVED and how
CARNAL the human heart can be, even with the Holy Spirit
dwelling in it. Look at what Paul said about himself in Romans
chapter 7, verses 14-24. Paul was a man mightily used by the
Lord, filled with the power of the Spirit, inspired to write much
of the NT, yet he knew very well how the heart of man, even after
conversion, still had within it the law of sin and death.
The converted heart still has within it the law that wars against
the spirit filled mind. It is only through Christ we can overcome
and subdue its wickedness.
Look at how Paul had to write to the people of the Church of
God at Corinth. He told them he had to write to them as ones
"carnal" and as babes, who could not yet be fed on spiritual
meat. They had so many sins and problems he had to correct them
on, yet they were true Christians, in the main, who obviously
had been led astray into many false errors and wrong practices
Then besides all that, we also have the Devil to contend with.
He does not go away to trouble us no more after our baptism. He
still stays around to fire his darts at us, doing all to
penetrate our spiritual armor and inflict us with poison and the
knock-out blow that will destroy us from inheriting the Kingdom
It is folly to think that the circumcised heart is so good and
so knowledgable that it can obey God without rules written down
somewhere. How would it know those rules? Who would say my rules
could not be different from your rules in serving God? Who
would set the "straight and narrow" way to life that Jesus talked
about? How could there be any straight and narrow way if there
was no fence? How could there be a "broad way that leads to
destruction" as Christ said there was, if nothing is written down
to define what is the narrow and broad ways to life or death?
The truth is that some of us are still so carnal after our
baptism, that if it was not for written laws of God that we can
look at and obey, we would be easy pickings for Satan to destroy.
Some have been honest enough to admit to ministers of God that
they do not like to obey certain laws of the Lord, but they obey
because they are written laws that should be kept. Should these
people keep those laws they do not care for (their carnal nature
speaking up)? Sure they should! As they observe them over time,
it is hoped they come to attain the right attitude of loving
those laws like David did, when less human carnality is
supplanted by more of the Spirit of God, filling their mind and
heart with the love of God, which is the keeping of His
commandment (1 John 5:3; Rom.5:5).
WORLDWIDE NEWS - JANUARY 10TH, 1995
".......Of course, not every law in the Old Testament is done
away - many of those laws are repeated in the New
Testament.......Consider, for example, the Seventh
Commandment, which forbids adultery. Is that in force?
Absolutely! The commandment is repeated in the New
Testament.......Let's consider the First Commandment, in Exodus
20:3: 'You shall have no other gods.' That commandment is
repeated in the New Testament, so it's still in force......."
How this reminds me of various religious men and groups I have
come to encounter over the past 30 years and more. It is the
argument given to me by some from the Church of Christ: "We only
follow it if it is repeated in the NT."
There was the man I met who only accepted the Old Testament(OT
from here on) and did not recognize the NT. The Bible that Jesus
used was good enough for Jesus, then it was good enough for him,
so the NT was cast off. I met a man who accepted all the NT
except for the writings of Paul. The Roman Catholic Church
accepts the "apocrypha" books as part of inspired Scripture.
There are those who will only obey the laws of the Bible if
repeated more than once in the NT, for they say it is by two or
three witnesses a thing is established, and have an OT verse to
back it. They forgot that verse was in relation to human men and
courts of law in Israel, not to God, who does not lie or deceive,
and is true though every man be a liar. Once out of the mouth of
the Eternal is quite enough.
So it goes, people having their own way around doing what the
Bible and Jesus said to do, and that is to LIVE BY EVERY WORD OF
The word "sabbath" appears more often in the NT than any other
word connected with the other nine commandments, especially in
the four Gospel. The fourth commandment is talked about and
expounded upon just about more often in the Gospels than any
other law of God. With all of that, how easy it would have been
for one of the NT writers to have said somewhere the plain words,
"the Sabbath is not important under the NT" or "the Sabbath
command is not for the followers of Christ under the New
Covenant" or "the fourth commandment has been changed to the
first day of the week."
No such words can be found in the entire NT. Those who teach the
Sabbath commandment has been "done away" with in Col.2:16 also
teach that Paul did not do away with it when writing and
instructing the church at Rome, but the members could choose
whatever day they wanted to observe as the Sabbath (Romans 14).
Rather unfair and contradictory of Paul do you not think? To one
church he tells them it is done away but to another church they
can choose which day they like as the Sabbath.
The truth is Paul is not abrogating the Sabbath in Col.2:16
and he is not letting people choose which day they like to keep
as the Sabbath in Romans 14. Those sections of Scripture I have
covered fully in other studies.
Jesus, it is recorded, had more discussions with the Pharisees
over the Sabbath issue than just about any other subject. Not
once did He come close to saying the Sabbath was "done away" or
not having to be obeyed under the age of grace or the New
Covenant. Not once did He mention that the Sabbath could be
observed just as you please, in any way it might be fitting under
any situation that may arise, that everyone could work out
keeping the Sabbath according to their ideas and wishes from week
to week. Oh, he swept aside many of the Pharisees' rules and
regulations of what constituted breaking the Sabbath, but never
once did He say the basic words and law of the Sabbath as written
in the fourth commandment of the ten, found in Exodus 20, was
no longer binding for the age of the Kingdom of God and grace.
Jesus said that unless the righteousness of His followers
EXCEEDED the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees (Mat.5),
they would NOT enter the Kingdom of God! Really pretty plain I
would say. Now, the scribes and Pharisees were Sabbath
keepers, no question about that. But, they were hypocrites, as
Jesus told them. They said but they did not do. Read again
Matthew 23. Christ did not say His followers should have more
righteousness than the Pharisees to enter the Kingdom, except in
keeping the Sabbath for that law was no longer binding under the
New Covenant. If that had have been true, it would have been so
easy for Christ or one of the Gospel writers to have added those
words of explanation. But they are not to be found anywhere in
Jesus told His followers they were to do the Father's will,
they were to do His words that He spoke. If His followers loved
Him He said they would keep His commandments.
This is all written for us in the gospel of John. Later, Peter
was inspired to say that the very EXAMPLE Jesus left us in the
way He lived, not sinning (and sin is the breaking of the law of
God - see I John 3:4; Rom.7:7), was FOR US TO FOLLOW (1 Peter
Christ set us the perfect example during His life on earth
of Sabbath observance. It is all there in the Gospels, plain and
simple to see and read, a small child can find it. Jesus kept
all the Father's commandments, including the Sabbath commandment,
correctly, perfectly, without sin. And in so doing left us an
example that we should follow His steps!
And some have the gall to say the Sabbath commandment is NOT
REPEATED in the NT! What on earth NT are they reading I ask? It
must be a different one than what I have.
Circumcision was very "Jewish" was it not? Yes, indeed! It
was part of their national life for centuries. So also was
Sabbath keeping! There arose a great controversy in the early NT
Church of God. It was over the subject of circumcision, was
it required for salvation? Some said it was. But Paul, Peter,
and others said it was not. This was an important issue, so much
so that finally the Church had to call for a ministerial
conference over the matter. That meeting was held in Jerusalem.
It is recorded for us in Acts 15.
Let me ask you: If the subject of circumcision was important
enough to hold a ministerial gathering to discuss the issue of it
being binding or not under the New Covenant, do you not suppose
the subject of Sabbath observance, being still binding or
having the day changed to the first day, would not also have
caused such debate that a ministerial conference equal to that of
Acts 15, would also have been called and recorded for us in the
I think so! Especially when we remember we are talking about
one of the BIG TEN commandments, that were written on tablets of
stone by the very finger of God Himself. Doing away with any one
of these ten commandments under the New Covenant would
have generated a huge debate and would not have gone without
notice, at least equal to that found in Acts 15 concerning
But the Sabbath law is not repeated in the NT so says the WCG
leadership. Let me ask another question: Does the NT have to
repeat everything contained in the OT before we are to obey it?
Lots of things are repeated, many are the quotes from the OT we
can find in the NT. But is the Church of Christ minister that
once said to me, "We only obey what we find repeated in the NT"
correct? They didn't have any kind of musical instrument
playing during their service. I guess they could not find a NT
verse upholding the OT teaching and example of musical
instruments being played during worship services.
To answer our question above, we can find Jesus REPEATING an
OT verse at the beginning of His start into His NT ministry. He
said, "Man shall not live by bread alone BUT BY EVERY WORD THAT
PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD."
Now, if you believe as I do (and some readers may not) EVERY
WORD of God is from Genesis to Revelation today. Pretty simple
to understand I maintain. All this argument about Old and New
Covenants, things repeated or not in the NT, is all really
washed away, carry out to sea, drowned in the depths of the deep
blue ocean, by those few simple words that can now be found in
BOTH the Old and the New - mankind is to live by EVERY WORD of
God. So things do not necessarily have to be repeated in the
New Testament before we are to obey them and live by them.
For the readers who are somewhat unsure about just HOW we are
to go about figuring what laws from Genesis to Revelation are for
us to live by today (for there were indeed many given to ancient
Israel), then I have a two part study to help solve many of
the issues. It can be sent e-mail upon request. Just ask for the
studies called, "Living by Every Word."
The WCG leaders claim the Sabbath commandment is not
specifically repeated in the NT. Oh, yes it is. The NT says it
still remains for the people of God.
The Sabbath command is repeated in the NT in the sense of
telling us it is still for the people of God to keep in the
present continuous age of grace. It is found in the
Jewish book of the NT - the book of Hebrews. Turn to chapter 4
and see it for yourself in verse 9. Some of the modern version
may cover it over and hide it. Even the KJV translation tried to
do that, but at least some Bibles put a note in the margin as to
how the literal Greek reads. The Greek Interlinears will render
it: "Then REMAINS a SABBATISMOS to the people of God." The word
"sabbatismos" is only used once in the NT - here in this verse.
As on Bible Commentator once said, "it seems that Paul invented
this word." The main point is this word literally means: keeping
Sabbath, or Sabbath keeping. The Greek word for "remains" is in
the PRESENT continuous tense - there remains presently and
continuously, a Sabbath keeping for the people of God.
Yes, as the context shows, Paul is using the 7th day rest as a
TYPE of the Eternal rest in Christ and Kingdom rest to come, but
he argues because of those analogies which the 7th day
represents, it is proof that present day Sabbath keeping by the
children of God continues. He goes on to say that those who have
entered the rest of God will refrain from his work (carnality as
to spiritual rest, physical secular work as to literal 7th
day rest) as God did from His.
This passage is covered in-depth by Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi in
his world famous book called "From Sabbath to Sunday."
WORLDWIDE NEWS - JANUARY 10TH 1995
".......Under the old covenant, tithing was required for the
support of the old covenant ministers.......The Israelites were
commanded to give 10 percent under the old covenant.......How
much more joyfully should we give to God under the new
covenant?.......Should we give less than a tithe, when the
blessing we have are so much more glorious than those of the
Israelites?.......Under the new covenant the tithe is voluntary,
done out of love and allegiance to Jesus Christ.......Are you
putting your money where your heart is?......."
Aaahhh, just the same reasoning as used by the BCG I mentioned
earlier. The inference is that under the OT tithing was a harsh,
strict, heartless, cold written law. We are not to be governed by
cold laws written down on some parchment, but a tingle of love
up and down the spine, then we will give to God at least 10% if
not more, so they argue.
The attitude is: I do not want God telling me in written laws
how much I should give back to Him. I want to give to Him because
I want to do it, not because He tells me to do it.
Tkach also wrote in this section: "The new covenant doesn't
set a new percentage, but it requires greater sacrifice."
The WCG do not want to loose the tithes from their members -
it is their bread and butter for most of them, especially those
on the top. If the members could give money as they saw fit and
when they thought they were able, then I guarantee you would see
many WCG ministers out looking for work or with much smaller
pay-checks. So old covenant tithing of at least 10% is carefully
guarded to teach it should be continued but under the roof of a
kind of love and not written law. It should be done voluntary
they say. This implies that it was forced on them under the OT
and done without love.
NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!!
You cannot find in the OT any DEATH penalty for NOT tithing!
You cannot find under the OT that people would be hired by the
state to "check up" on you to see that you were tithing
correctly. There was no secret IRS men coming around in the
night to peek at your books, to see if you were faithfully
OT tithing WAS DONE VOLUNTARY!
A theme runs through Tkach's expose on this subject. It is
hidden very surreptitiously, discreetly, camouflaged, and that is
this: The OT was harsh, cold, feelingless, heartless, and no
emotional love. Physical spiritless people doing physical
works forced on them by a harsh God who liked to write down His
laws with fire, smoke and brimstone. A God that showed little
grace or mercy. He sure did not require the people to serve Him
out of love and allegiance. The NT gives us the motivation to
serve God out of love and our own motivation to obey Him as we
are led by the Spirit, apart from any written list of laws.
This is also the ANTITHESIS of the truth! Grace and love is
emphasized under the OT, but law and commandment keeping is
stressed powerfully also. Law and commandments were emphasized
under the OT, but GRACE was abundant also! A classic example is
that of David, a man after God's own heart. David was a man of a
number of HUGE sins, yet he obtained grace and mercy because he
loved and obeyed the commandments of God. You need to read
carefully and slowly Ps.119. He said that rivers of water ran
down his face because people did not keep the laws of the Lord.
This was a man after God's own heart remember. Do you suppose
David had a heart very much like that of God's ?
Now, let me show you a few of the OT verses that may just
"blow you away" as they say. Turn to them, read them in your own
Bible, mark them. They have been there for centuries. I did not
secretly come and put them in your Bible last night while you
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And you shall
LOVE THE LORD THY GOD WITH ALL THINE HEART, AND WITH ALL THY
SOUL, AND WITH ALL THY MIGHT. And these words, which I command
you this day, shall BE IN YOUR HEART" (Deut.6:4-6).
"CIRCUMCISE THEREFORE THE FORESKIN OF YOUR HEART, and be no
more stiffnecked" (Deut.10:6).
"And the Lord thy God will CIRCUMCISE THINE HEART, and the
heart of thy seed, to LOVE the Lord thy God with ALL THINE HEART,
AND WITH ALL THY SOUL, that you may live" (Deut.30:6).
If you thought circumcision of the heart was only for the NT,
if you thought loving God with all your heart and life was only
for the NT, then WELCOME TO THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER! The PLAIN
TRUTH if you will! As Solomon was inspired to say, "There is
nothing new under the sun." And when this most wise man had
fully contemplated and experimented with physical life, his last
but one sentence in Ecclesiastes was: "Let us hear the conclusion
of the whole matter: FEAR GOD, AND KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS: for
this is the WHOLE of man."
Tkach says concerning tithing, "The new covenant doesn't set a
new percentage, but it requires greater sacrifice."
Greater sacrifice in what way I ask? Is it greater to give
money to God's work today than sheep, goats, pigeons, grain etc.
as most did under the OT? We today mainly live in a paper money
society, the ancient Israelites lived mainly in an agricultural
society. Which is more sacrificial when tithing? I think the
farmer who lives off the land could present a case just as strong
as the city dweller who lives by paper money.
Were those under the OT bound by the law to give only so much
and no more? I've never found a Scripture to confirm that idea.
They had to tithe of their increase under the OT and give
OFFERINGS also! They could give as much as they wanted, as much
as they were blessed, as much as their circumstances allowed
after meeting all their other duties for family and the poor.
They could give above 10% as much as their heart led them to give
and as much as their heart was in the work of the Lord. There was
So what's all this about the NT requiring GREATER sacrifice in
the context of tithing?
Another clever psychological mind play by Joseph Tkach Sr. Now
that he is loosing the requirements of the Sabbath command in the
letter of the law, I guess many in the WCG should now be able to
obtain MORE MONEY to put in the treasury of the WCG to pay the
ministers for their full time jobs which in part is being used to
discover where God's laws do not apply under the NT.
Very clever, if it was not so Satanic.
TO BE CONTINUED
First written in April 1995. Edited and revised, August 1998