“Dea Now Keeps a Sabbath!
Testimony: The Lord recently revealed to me that one reason for my frequent exhaustion was that I wasn’t taking a true “Sabbath” rest every week (Which had been very hard for months this year as a writer and nationally traveling speaker!). Self-employed people, like me, must even on a “Sabbath” answer important phone calls, go to the Post Office, etc.
Now, I endeavor to do NO WORK one day every week (Except helping my donkey get out of pits!). It isn’t a legalistic bondage. It is a blessing! It’s a privilege of people of faith who believe that the Lord can help us get as much done working six days a week, or even more, as we might think we can by working every day! At my age, I especially need the rest!
Keep this change in my life in mind as I send again this important teaching…
Word: “This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:22-24).
Wisdom: One of my supporters wrote me the following:
“I’m starting to go to a Messianic Friday night group to learn all about the festivals and to meet on what I believe is the correct day after spending time with Seventh-Day Adventists.”
After reading her note, I wondered how many other people, because of the Seventh-Day Adventist church or Messianic churches, question if they are out of God’s will by not making Saturday their most special day of the week. I will give my studied opinion of the matter today.
Keeping the Sabbath Day is the 4th commandment (Exodus 20:8). Let me be very clear from the outset:
The Sabbath day is without dispute Saturday!
(Not Sunday, as some Christians mistakenly suppose.).
We make Sunday a special day to worship the Lord, attend church, and at times rest, but most Christians no longer carefully avoid work on Saturday, as Old Testament saints did. (To do otherwise would have meant death! A man was stoned to death for merely gathering sticks for a fire in Num. 15:32-36.)
This Sabbath commandment was serious business back then. Why, then, do we no longer “keep” the 4th commandment?
Some Christians believe we must still be “Sabbath keepers” today. In fact, according to the 7th Day Adventists, Sunday worship will one day be the “mark of the beast” (Rev. 13:15, 16; 15:2).
At that time, they believe, the AntiChrist will demand that everyone makes Sunday the day of worship. Then, those who are the “true remnant church” will refuse to take the mark and will continue worshipping on the Sabbath (and will thus be persecuted for it). In that hour, one’s salvation will depend on whether they worship on Saturday instead of Sunday.!
Thus, we can understand the zeal of many Sabbath-keeping Christians to spread their “truth” of keeping the 4th commandment. Yet their arguments continue to be rejected by the vast majority of the body of Christ. Why? There are good reasons!
If you aren’t a Sabbath keeper, what would you tell them if someone asked you why you don’t keep the Sabbath? Would you have scriptures to show what you base your beliefs on?
Occasionally, I meet Christians who are somewhat confused about this matter. So, I hope this study gives you a better understanding of why most Christians are not Sabbath keepers.
I do not make Saturday my official “day of rest,” and I do not try to legalistically keep a “Sabbath” every Saturday (though I do attempt to have a “day off” once a week, now on Wednesdays which fits a traveling evangelist’s schedule better).
Here are reasons why I don’t keep the Sabbath (I think I got most of this list from some book I read decades ago, but I don’t know which book. Many of the comments, though, are mine):
1- Nowhere in the New Testament are we specifically commanded to keep the Sabbath, Period! You won’t find one verse! That alone could settle the matter.
2- All of the other Ten Commandments are repeated in the New Testament, but never Sabbath-keeping: (See Romans 13:8-10, Eph. 6:1, 2, James 5:12, 1 John 5:21, Matt. 19:17-19, Mark 10:19). Mention this to a Sabbath keeper, and he will probably reply:
“That’s because it was taken for granted that they kept the Sabbath.”
To this, I would reply:
“You mean they had to be reminded not to commit murder or adultery and wouldn’t take those sins for granted, but would Sabbath-keeping?” It doesn’t make sense.
3- When the early church established the basic requirements of the faith for new converts, keeping the Sabbath was not mentioned (but fornication sure was!) Acts 15:28, 29.
4- New Testament Christians met on the 1st day of the week (Sunday): Acts 20:6, 7.
5- New Testament Christians laid aside their offerings on the 1st day of the week: 1 Cor. 16:2.
6- The Day of Pentecost, when the church was born, was on the 1st day of the week (The day of Pentecost was 50 days after the Sabbath of the Passover) Acts 2:1.
7- Jesus kept appearing to the disciples on the 1st day of the week, but never on the Sabbath after his resurrection: John 10:1, 14; Luke 24:1, 13, 34, 35; John 20:19-23, 26-27; Rev. 1:10. (I think He was trying to tell us something about Sundays and His meeting with us on that day, don’t you? Matt. 18:20.)
8- Paul rebuked a church for “keeping” certain days in Gal. 4:9-11: “You observe days, and months, and times . . . I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.” Yet, he never commended any church for “keeping” the Sabbath. This fact alone argues persuasively against the supposed importance of Sabbath-keeping for New Testament Christians.
9- If we are saved by faith, then we are not saved by works, including Sabbath-keeping. I have no personal quarrel with those who wish to keep the Sabbath as a day of rest or go to church and worship Him on Saturdays-none at all! Paul wrote in Romans 14:5:
“One man esteems one day above another: another man esteems every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”
I am fully persuaded that I do not have to keep the Sabbath on Saturday, and God gives me a scriptural right in this verse to have this persuasion. On the other hand, He gives others the right to be “fully persuaded” to esteem their preferred “day” of Saturday.
However, a severe problem arises when Sabbath-keepers insist that we are “sinning” against the scriptures when we don’t keep the Sabbath. Such judgment violates Paul’s warning against judging one another’s principles in Rom. 14:4, 6, 10-14.
To make strict Sabbath-keeping (which is a “work”) now or at any time in the future a determinant factor in my salvation is a slap in the face of the clear and often repeated New Testament theme of redemption by “grace through faith” and “not of works” (compare: Eph. 2:8-10, Acts 15:11, Romans 4:3-8; 5:1, 2, 20; 10:8-13; Col. 1:22, 23; Titus 3:5)
10- The law was fulfilled in Christ, and thus the Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath, are no longer binding on the church as the official way to walk in submission to God:
“Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4).
We are to walk in submission to Christ, and when we do we will NOT break any of God’s laws! Compare also- John 1:17; Acts 13:39; Rom. 3;10-13, 28, 6:14-15, 7:4-6; 13:8-10, Gal. 2;16, 21; 3:10, 12, 13, 19-21, 5:18; Eph. 2;15, Col. 2:14; II Cor. 3:7-11, Heb. 8:6, 12, 13.
This does not mean that we are free to commit adultery, covet, or steal. Instead, it means the reason we don’t do those things is that we have His law written on our hearts, and Christ within bears witness to what is sin and also empowers us not to sin.
11- Neither my conscience nor my heart tells me to keep the Sabbath (though it tells me to keep all the other commandments!) This is in fulfillment of Jer. 31:31-34 and Heb. 8:7-13 where God says he will write his law in my heart. It is written there and thus grieves me when I sin.
However, I never yet awakened from sleep on Saturday with some spiritual sense that I needed to treat that day differently than any other day. Why? Because my conscience is cleared from the need to be a Sabbath keeper.
12- There is a noticeable transition away from Sabbath-keeping in the Word. In the New Testament, before Acts chapter 18, the Sabbath is mentioned eight times in the book, and we find Paul in the Synagogues frequently on that day. The reason is quite apparent. Since the Jews still considered themselves “under the law” and hadn’t received the truth of the gospel yet, Paul (desiring to win them to Christ) put himself as one “under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law,” (though, in his heart, Paul considered himself “under the law to Christ” 1 Cor. 9:19-22).
After Acts 18, the Sabbath is not once mentioned in the entire New Testament, except in Col. 2:14-17, and even there, it is made clear that the Sabbath was symbolic of the Christian benefits:
“the Sabbath days . . . Are a SHADOW of things to come.”
Shadows are Old Testament truths. Now, we walk in the light of the New Testament:
“You are called . . . out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:11).
We are so blessed as New Testament Christians. We are favored not to have to keep strict rules for Saturdays perfectly. Our freedom in Christ is truly wonderful.
13- The Lord’s day of His resurrection (Sunday); is the Christian’s day of rejoicing.
“The stone which the builders refused has become the head of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Ps. 118:22, 23).
. . . and then, today’s devotional verse . . .
“This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:22-24).
The Lord made a very, very special day for us. It is the day that Christ rose from the dead! Through His resurrection, Christ became the “Head of the corner.” He is our life’s chief Cornerstone (Eph. 2:20).
As an essential facet of the “Lord’s doing” through the resurrection, He also sanctified an exceptional day. There is no other day in history like it. It is the day of Christ’s resurrection, which “just happened” on a Sunday.
The Sabbath was “made for man” in Old Testament times (Mark 2:27), but Jesus as “Lord of the Sabbath” (Mk. 2:28) made us a “new” day: the first day of the week. It is a day “which the Lord has made,” especially for His church. On this first day of the week, when He rose from the grave (John 20:1), He gave us a day of “rejoicing,” which we would celebrate again and again throughout the ages. Every Sunday, throughout New Testament history, “rejoicing” has gone up from those who were “redeemed from the curse of the law” (Gal. 3:13) and set free to live in Grace (John 1:17).
The Sabbath had its time and place. But that time and place have been superseded by the most glorious day in History: Christ’s resurrection. Every time we set aside our busy schedule to attend a Sunday church service, we honor Christ’s death, celebrate His past resurrection and remember the assurance of our future resurrection. Why would I make Saturday such a special day when it pales in comparison with the value of every Sunday?
14- I am a Sabbath keeper anyway by resting in the finished work of Christ: Yes, my Sabbath preaching friends, I am truly a Sabbath keeper just like you. But, I do this, not by refusing to pick up sticks on Saturdays. Rather, I keep the Sabbath by keeping the faith.
Even if the 4th commandment were still binding on the church, I would be obeying it, according to Heb. 4:9-11:
“There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from His. Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”
The Sabbath in the New Testament is a moment-by-moment “rest” of faith, wherein we have “ceased from” our “own works” and “enter into His rest.” In “His rest,” we daily trust in His work on the cross as full payment for our sins and the full assurance of our salvation (Heb. 10:22).
To keep Saturday, or any other day, as some attempt to appease God’s wrath and help earn salvation is, in my opinion, possibly in the category of falling “after the same example of unbelief” (Heb. 4:11) and could even conceivably hinder one’s salvation if by such things as Sabbath-keeping, one buys into a system of salvation by works.
This is what Paul was warning the Galatian Christians about in Gal. 5:4:
“Christ has become of no effect to you, those of you who are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace.”
Now, I do not believe most Sabbath-keepers are “fallen from grace.” I have met many who truly show the fruit of the Spirit and evidence of salvation. (I sat next to one on an airplane years ago. She had the sweetest and kindest disposition, indicative of Christ within. I expect to see her in heaven. And I have a first cousin who is a pastor of a 7th Day Adventist Church and is a wonderful, committed Christian!)
Nevertheless, any doctrinal error, regardless of how seemingly trivial, has the potential to bring one under the sway of a “seducing spirit” and “doctrines of devils” (I Tim. 4:1). The closer we are to the truth, the further we are from the “father of lies” (John 8:44).
False doctrines are the work of the enemy for sure. But, on the other hand, to pompously try to disprove others for their doctrinal errors with an argumentative, arrogant, judgmental spirit can be in itself the work of the devil:
“This wisdom doesn’t descend from above but is earthly, sensual, and demonic. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceful, gentle, and easy to be entreated, and full of mercy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace” (James 3:13-18).
Our approach to the Sabbath-keepers or anyone else that we consider in some doctrinal error should always be, as James says, “peaceful, gentle and . . . full of mercy.” Let us live at peace with Sabbath-keepers. And, I ask Sabbath-keepers to live at peace with us “Sunday- keepers” (to coin a phrase).
It is an error not to set aside Sundays as a special day to rejoice in the Lord. Church attendance is the God-ordained way to do this best (Heb 10:25). We honor Him with our presence (Matt. 18:20). We honor him with our praise and singing (Heb. 13:15). We honor Him with the offerings that we gladly bring “into the storehouse” (Mal. 3:8-11). We honor Him by receiving communion at church:
“Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:53, 54).
Attending Church on Sunday, fellowship, worship, and communion: celebrating the “Lord’s Day” is, to a great extent, what Christianity is all about. (But Sunday attendance will not get you to heaven any more than Sabbath attendance would!).
If you claim to be a Christian and don’t attend church (With some allowance for sickness, necessary work for your employer, vacations, etc.), you will answer to the Lord on your resurrection day. I hope you have a good reason for not going to church and the Scriptures ready at hand with which to defend this decision. (You’ll need them!)
And, if you do attend church on Sundays (In person when possible!), I trust the above verses will encourage you as to why you do so and inspire you to continue that practice lifelong.
This coming Spring, we will celebrate Easter again. Remember to thank our Lord Jesus Christ for being willing to die on the cross for our sins. And let us thank the Father that He has established us a special day to forever rejoice in our gift of eternal life.
“This is the day which the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24).
Prayer: “Father, thank you for giving us a glorious day to rejoice in every week especially. And thank you for the finished work of Christ. I celebrate my Sabbath in that rest of faith.”
Confession: “I am saved by grace through faith, not of works. I will joyfully obey Christ’s commands! It is an honor to meet with Christ and the body of Christ on His resurrection day of Sunday.”