Does Sabbath require Worship Attendance?

Most Sabbatarians fail to comprehend the implications of the belief system they embrace. Much of what they ‘know’ about their beliefs is a highly sanitized version that is promoted by their church and pastors, and errors they learned from other churches. Few bother to read and understand what is written in the Bible or think critically about what the doctrine implies, or even understand history, writings of early Christians, church fathers, and Jewish culture and practice. 

Communal worship in Israel 

If we are to understand attending worship services for a Jew in its context, we have to know something about the manner of communal worship in Israel under the old covenant. The national corporate worship had to occur in the place that God designated as a central worship site. Originally, this was at the Tabernacle, and after Solomon’s time, at the Temple in Jerusalem. We can see an explicit instruction about the place to worship in Deuteronomy: 
“You are to seek the place the Lord your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go…” (Deuteronomy 12:4).
 
This command to worship only at a designated location is also seen in Deuteronomy 16, which lists the annual festivals. See verses 5, 7, 11, and 16, among others.
 
The reasons for this were numerous. One consideration was that Israel should not alter the worship format and purpose that God had given the nation; otherwise they would easily lapse into worship that was directed to pagan deities. We can see how this happened in the wilderness when Moses left the people to receive the stone tablets (Exodus 32), and when Israel broke politically from Judah and set up its own religious system, including new worship formats, places and times (1 Kings 12:25-33).
 
 
What made Sabbath “holy”? 
 
The essence of Sabbath-keeping was physical REST. 
Ex 20:8-10 ”Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it HOLYSix days you shall LABOR, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall NOT DO ANY WORK
 
In Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15, the Sabbath command specifies rest from labor as the way to keep the day “holy.” There is no COMMAND or mention of going to a worship service each Sabbath for worship. 
Other passages in the Old Testament also define the Sabbath by rest (ceasing from labor), not by attendance at worship services. See Exodus 31:12-17, Numbers 15:32, Nehemiah 13:15-22 and Jeremiah 17:19-27. The latter two passages, though they refer to Jerusalem, do not mention anything about failure to attend worship services, but only work on the Sabbath as a desecration of this day.
 
An interesting study is to look up the word “Sabbath” in a concordance, find all the Old Testament references and then read those passages to see how this day was kept “holy.”
The conclusion will be that rest from labor is what made the Sabbath sacred time, not attendance at a worship service.
Most Israelites lived too far from the tabernacle to attend a worship service every Sabbath – and there is no evidence in the Old Testament that they did. And the law did not allow them to assemble anywhere else for worship. Nor do we find commands even for people near the Tabernacle that they had to gather for worship. The Sabbath was kept at home, by resting or ceasing from all activity.
 
Leviticus 23:3 ”Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your DWELLINGS‘. 
 
Hence, there is no indication in Scripture of Israelite’s going to worship services of one kind or another in their local towns and villages. 
 
Ex. 16:29, ”Understand that the LORD has given you [Israel] the Sabbath. Each of you stay where you are; no one is to leave his place on the seventh day.”
 
They could travel to worship services at the Tabernacle only for the annual festivals. But they were COMMANDED by God to cease from labour in their living places, and EVERYONE was to not leave their place on the ritual Sabbath day. 
 
 
 
When did the Synagogue system come?
 
One might point to the New Testament and say, “But Jesus and Paul attended the synagogue on the Sabbath. Doesn’t this indicate that worship services were an essential part of God’s command to keep the Sabbath holy?”
 
Based on Scripture or Jewish history, there was no national system of Sabbath-day worship sites or places of communal instruction throughout Israel’s history in the Promised Land up to the captivity of Judah in the 530s B.C. and the return of a remnant to Judea a few decades years later.
There were no synagogues before the exile; there were no local meeting places in Israel before the exile, because there was no command for weekly meetings.
According to Jewish Encyclopedia,The synagogue as a permanent institution originated in the period of the Babylonian captivity, when a place for common worship and instruction had become necessary‘. 
The synagogue system allowed Jews to meet together in local towns and villages for prayer, the reading of the Holy Scriptures and for fellowship. The synagogue became a miniature sanctuary to replace the loss of the Jerusalem Temple.
 
Hence, Jews added the synagogue worship system, not based on biblical command, but on a sociological need, due to the loss of the Temple and the scattering of the people far away from the Promised Land. Nowhere in the Old Testament will you find a command to have local worship sites.
 
Now, there wasn’t anything necessarily wrong with the Jews setting up synagogues. They became an important center of fellowship and instruction in the Jewish faith. The New Testament does not condemn the practice; it is taken for granted. However, it is nowhere commanded, and no Sabbatarian group should command attendance at worship services as a way to keep Sabbath holy. 
For instance, even Christ did not consider it was important to have weekly meetings on the Sabbath while he was in the wilderness for 40 days (Matthew 4:2). 
So, when Jesus, Paul went to synagogues, it was actually out of a tradition of man (a custom that came about), and not a command of God.  
 
Hence, the Old Testament does not indicate that the Sabbath is kept holy through a meeting. Rather, it was kept as holy through rest (ceasing from labor and activity) by remaining in their dwellings.
 
Are modern day Sabbath keepers really Sabbath keepers? 
 
 
God is very specific about His Sabbath commandments and how to keep it holy. If anyone claims to observe the Sabbath ritual, they must comply with His specific commandments. If they don’t, they are Sabbath breakers. The following Sabbath commandments must be observed from ‘Friday sunset to Saturday sunset‘ (Leviticus 23:32) in order to claim holy Sabbath observance.
 
1. No work done at all (Ex. 20: 10; Lev. 23: 3; Jer. 17:21-22): By law if a person did not stop all types of activity in honor of the Sabbath, he was breaking the law. In Numbers 15:32-36 a man was caught collecting sticks on the Sabbath, and He was condemned as one who broke the Sabbath law.
 
2. Work shall be done for six days (Exod. 35:2): Do you or your congregation work for 6 days? Or 5?  The actual whole command is to work 6 days with only the 7th observed as a rest day. Many Sabbatarian’s observe Sunday just like Saturday except for the gathering in Church (which there is no command to do). So if you not doing this you’re still breaking the Sabbath, even if you take Sunday off.
 
3. Your servants, and friends must rest with you: “In it you shall not do any work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates (Ex. 20:10; Deut. 5:12-14). If you have any friends over that are not Christian they must observe the rest day also. You can’t ask your servants to cook or sweep the floor on the Sabbath. 
 
4. No cooking or baking: SDA ‘prophet’ Ellen White wrote: “The command is, “Bake that ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe; for tomorrow is the rest day of the holy Sabbath (Ex. 16:23)” That day is not to be given to the cooking of food…to keep the Sabbath according to the commandment — Bible Echo, February 13, 1899). 
 
 
5. No kindling of a fire (Ex. 35:3). No fellowship cookouts or barbecues. Adventists for instance annually meet up for camp meetings and cook food every Saturday for the entire congregation. They break the Sabbath law as a congregation at least once annually. 
 
6. No traveling (Ex. 16:29). Later the Jews added to this law, allowing only a half mile of travel on the Sabbath but the Jehovah given pure law says “stay at home.” Actually, If you kept this part of the law, you could not travel to your church gathering away from home. 
 
7. No buying and selling (Neh. 10:31; 13:15,19; Amos 8:5). Which means no eating out from restaurants or shops. Make sure you do no shopping whatsoever. If you run out of food or drink at home you failed to prepare for Sabbath (ceasing from buying activities). 

8. No carrying any sort of loads from your houses:  ”This is what the Lord says: not bring a load out of your houses or do any work on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy (Jeremiah 17:21,22)

9. No ironing of clothes: This goes out to Adventists specifically. These are the inspired words of their prophet, Ellen White. She was apparently ‘inspired by God’ to include ironing clothes as part of DO NO WORK even TODAY: ‘See that all the clothing is in readiness, and that all the cooking is done. Let the boots be blacked, and the baths be taken (EGW, the inspired prophet of God of the remnant Adventist church says you can’t bathe on the Sabbath). It is possible to do this. If you make it a rule, you can do it. The Sabbath is not to be given to the repairing of garments (no stitching or ironing clothes on Sabbath), to the cooking of food, to pleasure seeking (TV? playing in the park with children?), or to any other worldly employment. Before the setting of the sun, let all secular work be laid aside, and all secular papers be put out of sight. Parents, explain your work and its purpose to your children, and let them share in your preparation to keep the Sabbath according to the commandment — Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 355, 356 (1901).
 
If you insist on the Jewish ceremonial Sabbath law as binding on new covenant Christians, do you understand what the law says? Are you who claim to observe the Sabbath, really a Sabbath keeper or a Sabbath breaker according to the Jehovah’s commandments? You decide.
Remember to break one commandment, is to break all (James 2:10). 
 
In the Adventist human definition of Sabbath keeping, Sabbath keeping is primarily going to church on Saturday, refraining from paid employment, and doing some good works, but that is not what the Lord commanded from the Jewish Sabbath, unfortunately.
By their Sabbath keeping definition, even my Catholics friends who attend church on Saturday evening must be Sabbath keepers as most catholic churches are now open for church services on Saturday. My catholic friends do not work on Saturday or Sunday, instead they go visiting their grand parents, and do acts of kindness. Even other Christians who attend worship services on Saturday or Friday evening would qualify for observing the ritual. Yet that is not Sabbath keeping as per the 4th commandment.
 
 
Sabbath law or ceasing from labor in the new covenant
 
 
The concept of “rest” is important in Scripture, and it has a deep spiritual meaning for Christians.
As Christians, we understand that our rest is in Christ, who is our Sabbath; He is the reality (Col 2:17). We enter this Sabbathismos today, daily, not on any particular day any longer. God’s ‘seventh-day rest’ (Hebrews 4:4), was ‘ready since He made the world’ (Hebrews 4:3), and the ‘time for entering his rest is today’ (Hebrews 4:7), not Saturday or Sunday.
When we rest spiritually in Christ, we present ourselves as the people of God before his presence in continuous sacred assembly. We are always the church, in his presence every day of the week, not just one.
 
 
For Israelites, the Sabbath was a day to rest at home, not a day to travel long distances and attend a worship service. The annual harvest festivals were the time for Israelites to enjoy communal worship and fellowship. Here is what the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (volume 2, page 623) says about Leviticus 23:3:
 
There is an emphasis here that the Israelite rested at home. There were special offerings given in the tabernacle (e.g., a double burnt offering), but the ordinary Israelite and his whole family rested. Presumably here was an opportunity for family worship and instruction in the law of God, but this is not specifically enjoined. What a boon a weekly rest must have been to the ancient laborer and farmer in his weary round of toil!
 
As did the Jews in their synagogue system, Christians find that regular fellowship and communal instruction is an important foundation of their religious life.
As Christians, we are free to meet together at any time of the day, any day of the week, and any season of the year (Romans 14:5).
We are also free to rest on any day, and one in seven days is a good principle. However, the Jewish Sabbath ritual was fulfilled in Christ, and is not longer a requirement or a command for new covenant Christians (Col. 2: 16,17), 
 
We are not limited to meeting on just one day, since no day has been specifically set aside by God for Christian fellowship and worship. This was the case in the old testament. This is the case in the new testament. We are always in the presence of God and worship him continually because he and Christ reside in us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. At the same time, we can gather weekly (Saturday, Sunday, Monday etc) and seasonally in small groups or in larger communal situations to praise God, to recall Christ’s work of salvation and to fellowship in the Spirit.

A brief outline of Sunday meetings from the Bible and History: 

Lord’s day – Neither from Pagan or Catholics but from the Bible!


1 Century evidence:

Jewish Sabbath no longer a Christian obligation:

Col. 2:16, 17 ”Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day

Christians can treat every day alike or consider some days sacred:

Rom. 14:5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

A.D. 53 – Weekly giving commanded on Sundays for all the churches of Galatia:

1 Corinthians 16:1-2 ‘Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.

A.D. 60 – Christian met every day for worship, also gathered for communion on Sunday, the first day:

Acts 20:7 “And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread”

Early Christians, church fathers met on Sunday for worship, communion, fellowship. Never on the Jewish Sabbath (No Christian Sabbath keeping in Acts) for it was abolished (see also: Sabbath is ceremonial!

Sunday is not a Christian Sabbath or a day of rest, or a holy day to be kept. No more holy days, but Christians met for assembly on the first day since the time of the apostles before there was Constantine or Roman Catholic church. Sunday is not a pagan day for pagans didn’t have a weekly worship day:

2nd  to 3rd century evidence

AD 140 – Justin Martyr(Rome) wrote:

Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly … Jesus Christ on the same day rose from the dead” (Apology, I.67).

AD 110 – Ignatius (Antioch) wrote:

”Let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s Day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days of the week. (Ignatius, Epistle to the Magnesians, chp 9. Ante-Nicene Fathers , vol. 1, pg. 62-63.)

Early Christians understood Sunday as the Lord’ day. John wrote:

Revelation 1:10 ‘I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day

AD 180 – Bardesanes, Edessa (Asia) wrote:

“On one day the first of the week, we assemble ourselves together.” Book of the Laws of Countries.

AD 194 – Clement of Alexandria (Egypt) wrote:

He does the commandment according to the Gospel and keeps the Lord’s day, whenever he puts away an evil mind . . . glorifying the Lord’s resurrection in himself. (Vii.xii.76.4)

AD 200 – Tertullian in Africa:

“We solemnize the day after Saturday in contradiction to those who call this day their Sabbath.” Apology, Chapter XVI. “We however, just as we have received, only on the day of the Lord’s resurrection, ought to guard not only against kneeling, but even posture and office of solicitude, deferring even our business.” On Prayer, Chapter XXIII.

The New Testament does not give a single example of Christians conducting their religious services on the Sabbath after the resurrection of Christ because Sabbath is abolished (See: No Sabbath in Acts).

For the first several centuries of the church’s existence, the written testimony is uniform that Christians met for worship on Sunday. Dr. Schaff says: “The universal and uncontradicted Sunday observance in the second century can only be explained by the fact that it had its root in apostolic practice.” History of the Christian church, Vol. I, page 478.

There have always been a few sabbatarians, but never the mainstream. They have always been fringe groups and considered heretical or cultic by the main church. Most of them were rooted in Judaism (Jewish converts to Christianity) and not gentile churches. The Ebiionites are an example. Then, Sabbatarians began to be resurrected in England in the time of the Reformation, over five hundred years ago. Yet, they (likes of the SDA’s, church of God) remain outside of mainstream today.

However, they have grown their numbers through the spread of false information (such as sunday is pagan, catholic church changed the Sabbath day in the 3rd century, Sabbath law is universal), conspiracy theories (sunday law etc), and a false understanding of the doctrine of law (see: Decalogue examined, Covenants).

Jesus, the apostles, the early church fathers, Luther, Calvin, all understood that Sabbath was ceremonial. None of these believed that the Pope or Roman Catholic church changed the Sabbath. Instead they saw that it was abrogated as clearly stated in the new testament and by the apostles (see: Did they teach Sabbath is ceremonial?)
 Part of the above articles have been adapted from GCI.

Catholic Church Changed the Sabbath?

Adventists and certain Sabbatarians claim that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday by the Catholic Church, and Constantine during the 3rd century. This is utterly false both Biblically and historically, as the practice of meeting on the first day started with the apostles, and continued with the early church in the 1st, 2nd centuries, and it continues till today given the commands, and example of the apostles, and early Christians.
Adventist misquote certain recent century Catholic and Protestant quotes : Catholic & Protestant Confessions as proof that the Catholic Church changed it. But in this Adventist ignore, fail to state, another claim which all these same Catholic authorities always make just as strongly, namely, that their Holy Catholic Church extends back to, and began with, the apostles, who started this practice of meeting on Sunday.
What about these Catholic and Protestant ‘Sabbath was changed’ quotes? 
Firstly, none of those quotes, whether from first or 20th century has any bearing on the Sabbath issue, because the New Testament has settled that the weekly ritual ceremonial Sabbath is a shadow, and is not binding on Christians. Christians can treat every day alike, or consider some days sacred (like the seventh day if you may). However, there is no command or obligation for Christians to observe the seventh day, or Sunday or any day  as a holy day or day of rest for that matter in the new testament (neither in Genesis).
Neither is there an example of Gentile Christians observing the Sabbath anywhere in the New Testament. Of course Jewish converts to Christianity observed not only the Sabbath days, feast days, circumcision laws, purification laws and other laws of the law of Moses, as the Jerusalem church shows in Acts (obviously for valid reasons as they took time to transition out of that old system), until God revealed through the apostles that they are shadows and are no longer binding.
Sabbath was purely a Jewish ritual law, and  none of the Sabbtarians today observe the God commanded Sabbath laws which require not worship or church attendance, but ceasing from labor on the seventh day (Ex. 20:9-10), no travelling (Ex 16:29-30) , no cooking (Ex. 16:23) , no buying (Neh 13:15-17), not working others (Ex. 20:9-10) in any way, among other things. Based on these specific Sabbaths commands, most Sabbatarians are Sabbath breakers.

Secondly, no where in Scripture is it stated that the Sabbath was changed from the 7th day to the 1st day.

If someone (CATHOLIC OR PROTESTANT) say that Sabbath was changed to 1st day from 7th, it is utterly false! Sunday is not a Christian Sabbath or a day of rest, or a holy day to be kept. It was a day Christians gathered to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, for communion (Acts 20:7), and give offerings (1 Corinthians 16:1-2), and they did not view it as the Jewish Sabbath, for they believed that it was abolished (Col. 2:16).
Justin Martyr, an early christian apologist, who was born 70 years after Christ wrote: “Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly … Jesus Christ on the same day rose from the dead” (Apology, I.67).

The belief that the Sabbath was transferred to Sunday is an old error (puritans believed this Sunday Sabbath error, and some protestants still do; but we we disagree with).

The reformers, Calvin and Luther, were careful to state that the Sabbath was not binding on Christians as expressed in the new covenant, but they saw merit in taking a day for rest and worship. It was not until the English Reformation that the Decalogue Sabbath began being promoted. The chief proponents of this were the Puritans. They began to teach that the Sabbath (although they called Sunday the Sabbath) was not abolished, and they instituted strict rules according to the Old Testament regulations. This, of course, affected the other religious English groups, such as the Methodists and the Baptists. Many of these groups came to America, and New England became known for strict Sabbath (Sunday) observance.

WE BELIEVE THIS PURITAN INSPIRED CLAIMS ARE INACCURATE.

We believe what Jesus and the apostles taught was that the ritual Sabbath was a shadow that was fulfilled in Christ (not transferred to another day). These quotes by protestants do nothing to disprove or negate the teaching of the apostles that the ritual Sabbath was abolished!

In fact, this is exactly what some of these protestants that SDA’s fondly quote were also saying, ‘Sunday is not another Sabbath nor a day of rest nor a holy day‘, and neither were they promoting that the Jewish Sabbath should be observed and yet Adventists misquote these statements by ripping them out of their context, propagating that these authors supported the Jewish Sabbath day.

Take for example the quote SDA quote by the following protestant:

Alexander Campbell, The Christian Baptist, Feb. 2, 1824,vol. 1. no. 7, p. 164. “‘But,’ say some, ‘it was changed from the seventh to the first day.’ Where? when? and by whom? No man can tell”
Absolutely true! The Sabbath was abolished, not changed to Sunday! Campbell taught that the Sabbath was abolished like most other protestant writers!
The first day of the week is commonly called the Sabbath. This is a mistake. The Sabbath of the Bible was the day just preceding the first day of the week. The first day of the week is never called the Sabbath anywhere in the entire Scriptures. It is also an error to talk about the change of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. There is not in any place in the Bible any intimation of such a change.” (Alexander Campbell, First Day Observance, pp. 17, 19)

”Under the new constitution all disciples live if they knew it; and if you go back to Moses for a Sabbath, you may go back to him for a new moon, a holy day or what you please. And indeed we are, and must be confessed to be, either under the old constitution or the new. We cannot be under both. We cannot live under the English and American constitution at the same time. If I were to go to Moses for a “Seventh Day Sabbath,” I should not blush to take from him an eighth day circumcision or an annual passover. The Christian Baptist, Vol. 3 No. 1, August 1, 1825, pp. 177-178:

”He that keeps the Sabbath of the Jews is a debtor, to do the whole law (torah). The Sabbath could not be changed from the seventh day to the first day, for the reasons given for its observance; nor can the first day of the week be changed into a Jewish or Patriarchal Sabbath, for the reasons which consecrated it to the Lord. (Millennial Harbinger of 1837, p. 279)

So, the protestant quotes that SDA’s quote means nothing. They are misquoted!  Most of these protestants understood that the Bible teaches that Sabbath is a ritual law fulfilled at the cross, no more binding, and Sunday is not the Sabbath, but Sunday is a day for Christian common assembly.
What about the Catholic quotes?
Adventists assume and argue on the assumption that the “Catholic Church” began to be formed about three hundred years after Christ.  However, if the popes or Catholic Church, or Constantine did change the Sabbath (ex: 3rd century), the change could not have been made before that late date (ex:1st & 2nd century).  
Adventists find, and gladly quote, a large number of Catholic catechisms, Catholic priests, and Catholic challenges to Protestants, all boasting that the Holy Catholic Church changed the Sabbath.  Adventists say that this settles the question. 
 

But in this Adventist ignore, fail to state, another claim which all these same Catholic authorities always make just as strongly, namely, that their Holy Catholic Church extends back to, and began with, the apostles, and that the change was made by them.  If Adventists accept one claim of the Catholics, then, to be fair, they should accept both.  But this would overthrow their argument.

We wish Adventists might see error and stupidity in presenting all these statements trying to prove their case and tell the whole truth! 

We will begin with the very highest authority, in the Catholic Church – the Council of Trent. “The Catechism of the Council of Trent,” published by order of Pius IV, contains the creed of the Church.  Every member has to swear to this creed when he joins the Church, hence it is authoritative.  It devotes eight pages to the Sabbath question.  It says:

The Sabbath was kept holy from the time of the liberation of the people of Israel from the bondage of Pharaoh; the obligation was to cease with the abrogation of the Jewish worship, of which it formed a part; and it therefore was no longer obligatory after the death of Christ. The apostles therefore resolved to consecrate the first day of the week to the divine worship, and called it ‘the Lord’s Day’; St.  John, in the Apocalypse, makes mention of ‘the Lord’s Day’; and the apostle commands collection to be made ‘on the first day of the week,’ that is, according to the interpretation of St.  Chrysostom, on the Lord’s Day;” (pages 264, 265).

Notice that this creed says the apostles consecrated the day; it was was called the Lord’s Day.  The Scriptures are quoted to prove all this.  This is the creed of the Roman Church.

Any Catholic priest or writer teaching differently contradicts the sacred creed of his own Church and violates his oath to believe and teach it. Only a misinformed, uneducated group of men, could misquote such statements!

The following is a decisive witness to the position of the Catholic Church as to when they say the day was changed and who changed it.  It is a comment on Acts 20:7, in the Catholic Bible itself.  Observe how they place the change:

”And on the first day of the week.’ Here St.  Chrysostom, with many other interpreters of the Scripture, explain that the Christians, even at this time, must have changed the Sabbath into the first day of the week (the Lord’s Day), as all Christians now keep it: This change was undoubtedly made by the authority of the Church: hence the exercise of the power which Christ had given to her; for He is Lord of the Sabbath.”

In 1913 Monsignor John Bunyan was the special representative of the Pope in America.  Next to the Pope, he was then the highest official authority of that Church in the United States, and what he says is authoritative.  “Why Sunday is the First Day” was the title of an article he furnished the Washington Times, October 11, 1913.  He says:

“In the New Law the time for the fulfillment of this [Sabbath] obligation was changed by the apostles from the Sabbath, or the seventh day of the week, to Sunday, or the first day of the week, primarily to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who, early in the morning on the first day of the week, arose, glorious and triumphant, from the dead.  Hence it is that in Scripture, the first, day of the week is called the ‘Lord’s Day’ (Rev 1:10).  It was also on this same day of the week that the Holy Ghost came down upon the apostles, and that the faith and law of Christ was for the first time solemnly published to the world by them.”

On this the Advent Review and Herald, October 23, 1913, says:

“As we read this article we should not forget that we are reading the deliberate declaration of the highest official in America of that Church which claims to reach back to Apostolic days.”

Here, then, by the highest authority deliberately stated, is the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church as to who changed the Sabbath and the time when it was done.  It was done by the apostles, in the time of the apostles.  All Seventh-Day Adventists certainly know this, for it was published by the editor in their official organ, The Advent Review.  Now will they cease teaching that the Catholic Church claims to have changed the Sabbath several hundred years after Christ without Apostolic authority?  PLEASE NOTE the question here is not whether the apostles really did make the change, and all their claims about the sanctity of sunday or if Sunday is the Sabbath, but what does the Catholic Church claim about it, and when they say they did it?  The papal delegate has settled that.

Cardinal Gibbons comes next in authority. Here is the answer:

Baltimore, Md.,July 1896

Dear Sir: In reply to your favor of the 20th inst., to his Eminence the Cardinal, I beg to say:

First.  The Catholic Church dates back to the day when our Lord made St.  Peter the visible head of the Church, and when St.  Peter established, first at Antioch, then at Rome, the seat of his residence and jurisdiction.

In these days and those immediately following, we find traces of the beginning of the custom of the Sunday observance.  You may refer to the Christian writers of that period.  (Confer Ignatius ad Magnes, 9; Justin Martyr, 1, Apol.  59; Tertul., Apol.  16.) All these writers speak of the Sunday as the Lord’s Day; no other more distinct trace has been preserved, and the mention which occurs in the following centuries rests on the fact of a previous custom more or less general.

After the Cardinal, the next highest dignitary in America is Archbishop Ireland.  In answer to our question as to when the Catholic Church changed the Sabbath, this high prelate answered as follows:

St.  Paul, March 1914

My dear Sir:

In answer to your question I would state that the Jewish Sabbath was simply a positive precept in the Mosaic law and lapsed with that law.  The apostles and early Christians instituted the Sunday as a day of special prayer in honor of the great mysteries of the Christian religion, the resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit, both occurring on the first day of the week.

Very sincerely, JOHN IRELAND.

That is clear, positive, and directly to the point.  Here is another high Catholic authority, “The Catholic Encyclopedia on Doctrine,” Article, “Sunday”:

“Sunday was the first day of the week according to the Jewish method of reckoning time, but for the Christians it began to take the place of the Jewish Sabbath in apostolic times as the day set apart for the public solemn worship of God” (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor.  16:2; Rev.  1:10).

The same Encyclopedia, Article, “Sabbath,” says:

St.  Paul enumerates the Sabbath among the Jewish observances which are not obligatory on Christians (Col.  2:16; Gal.  4:9-10; Rom.  14:5).  The Gentile converts held their religious meetings on Sunday (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor.  16:2), and with the disappearance of the Jewish Church, with the Christian Churches the day was exclusively observed as the” Lord’s Day.”

Notice that Catholics quote the same texts as Protestants do to indicate the change.  They trace its origin to the New Testament and thus claim Scripture authority for it.  It will be seen that all these high Catholic authorities agree in locating the change in the days of the apostles and by the apostles.

The following is from “The Catholic Dictionary, the Universal Christian Educator, Containing Doctrine of the Church,” by Rev.  Wm.  A.  Addis and Thomas Arnold, A.M., both of the Royal University of Ireland.  Endorsed by Cardinal Manning and Cardinal McClosky.  There could be no better Catholic authority.  Now read, Article, “Sunday”:

The precept of observing the Sabbath was completely abrogated in the Christian Church.  In commemoration of Christ’s resurrection, the Church observes Sunday.  The observance does not rest on any positive law, of which there is no trace.  Sunday is of merely ecclesiastical institution, dating however from the time of the apostles.  Such is the opinion of St.  Thomas.  The Scripture given above (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor.  16:2; Rev.  1:10) shows that the observance of Sunday had begun in the apostolic age; but even were Scripture silent, tradition would put the point beyond doubt.”

I quote all these to show only one point; viz., the time when Catholics claim the change was made by the Church.  They all say it was made by the apostles.  No other date is given or suggested.

Now read the written testimony of two Catholic priests:

TESTIMONY OF A CATHOLIC PRIEST

“Having lived for years among the Seventh-Day Adventists, I am familiar with their claims that the Pope of Rome changed the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week.  Such assertions are wholly unfounded.  Catholics claim no such thing; but maintain that the apostles themselves established the observance of Sunday and that we received it by tradition from them. The councils and Popes afterwards simply confirmed the keeping of the day as received from the apostles.” JOHN MEILER, Rector of St.  John’s Church, Healdsburg, Cal.

A leading Catholic priest of Grand Rapids, Mich., who readily signed it, as will be seen below:

“The Catholic doctrine of the change of the Sabbath is this:

The apostles, by instruction from Jesus Christ, changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday to commemorate the resurrection of Christ and the descent of the Holy Ghost, both of which occurred on Sunday.  The change was made by the apostles themselves, and hence by divine authority, at the very beginning of the Church.  There are references to this change in Acts 20:7; 1 Cor.  16:1, 2; Rev.  1:10, etc.  Yet these texts do not state positively such a change; hence Catholics go to the statements of the early Christian Fathers, where this change by the apostles is confirmed and put beyond doubt.

Catholics also rely upon the tradition of the Church which says that the change was made by the apostles.  Catholics never teach that the change of the day was made by the Church two or three hundred years after Christ.  Such a statement would be contrary to all the facts of history and the traditions of the Church.

Even SDA top scholar Samuel Bachiochi proved that Ellen White is a false prophet and her denominations claim that Pope changed the Sabbath was false: I differ from Ellen White, for example, on the origin of Sunday. She teaches that in the first centuries all Christians observed the Sabbath and it was largely through the efforts of Constantine that Sundaykeeping was adopted by many Christians in the fourth century. My research shows otherwise. ( “Free Catholic Mailing List” on 8 Feb 1997)

Not just history, and the new testament, and even SDA scholars admit that all SDA claims about WHEN AND WHO DID THE CHANGE are wrong, and not to be trusted!

Here’s more:

“The Holy Catholic Church began with the apostles.  St.  Peter was the first Pope.  Hence, when they say that the Church changed the Sabbath, they mean that it was done by the Church in the days of the apostles.  Neither the Church nor the Pope, two or three hundred years after the apostles, had anything whatever to do with changing the Sabbath, for the change had been made ages before.  Catholics do not call the first day of the week the Sabbath, for that was Saturday; but they call it Sunday, or the Lord’s Day.  This above statement by Rev.  D.  M.  Canright is true and pure Catholic doctrine.” Rev.  James C.  Pulcher, Pastor of St.  James’ Church, Grand Rapids, Mich.

See how all these Catholic authorities agree.  Now come to the catechisms which Adventists are so fond of quoting.  This is from a ” Systematic Study of the Catholic Religion.” It is the one used by all students in the Catholic High School in Grand Rapids, Mich.  On page 294 I read, “The Church from the time of the apostles has changed the Sabbath into the Lord’s Day.” In the Advent book, “Who Changed the Sabbath?” page 9, the following is quoted from the “Catholic Christian Instructed.”

“Quest.  What are the days which the Church commands to be kept holy?

“Ans.  The Sunday, or our Lord’s Day, which we observe by apostolic tradition instead of the Sabbath.”

You see this catechism refers the change of the Sabbath back to the apostles the same as all other Catholic writers do.  The Church did this in the time of the apostles, Here follows another from the same catechism:

“Quest.  What warrant have you for keeping the Sunday, preferable to the ancient Sabbath, which was the Saturday?

” Ans.  We have for it the authority of the Catholic Church, and apostolic tradition.”

Here we are again referred right back to the apostles as before.

“A Full Course of Instruction in Explanation of the Catechism,” by Rev.  J.  Perry, edited and adapted to the present wants of Colleges, Academies, and Private Families, by a priest of the Mission.  It is endorsed by the Archbishop of St.  Louis, Mo.  Notice that this is the authority studied in families, high schools, colleges, and academies.  Is there any better witness?  Now read: “Third [Sabbath] commandment.  Its obligation transferred from Saturday to Sunday.”

“What day of the week is the seventh day or Sabbath Day?” “It is Saturday.” “Then why do we not keep Saturday holy?” ” Because the Church in the apostles’ time transferred the obligation from the seventh to the first day of the week.” “Why was this done?” “In honor of Jesus Christ, and therefore the first day of the week is called the Lord’s Day (Rev.  1:10).  It was on the first day of the week (or Sunday) that Christ rose from the dead; that He commissioned His apostles to teach all nations; that He empowered them to forgive sins; that He sent down upon them the Holy Ghost; it was on this day that the apostles began to preach the doctrines of Christ and to establish the Christian religion “(pages 168-169).

But do not the catechism and Catholic writers, when controverting Protestants, assert that the “Holy Catholic Church” changed the day?  Certainly, but they also claim that the Catholic Church began with the apostles who changed the day.  Do not Adventists know this?  Yes.  Why, then, do they not tell the whole facts in the case? Let them answer.

Consider the high Catholic authorities quoted on this subject – the Council of Trent; the papal delegate, Cardinal Gibbons; Archbishop Ireland; the Catholic Encyclopedia; the Catholic Dictionary; written statements of priests; and the teachings of the catechism.  All agree that the change in the day was made by the apostles.  Beyond dispute, this establishes the doctrine of the Catholic Church on the origin of the Lord’s Day.  Not a single Catholic authority can be quoted teaching that the change of the Sabbath was made by the Popes or by the Papacy centuries later. 

That is purely an invention of Seventh-Day Adventists.  Here, then, is the testimony of the millions of Roman Catholics, all agreeing that the observance of Sunday as the Lord’s Day originated with the apostles.  Now if Adventists quote the Catholics, then let them abide by their testimony.

Now read “Rome’s Challenge,” “Father Enright’s Challenge,” and a lot of other Catholic “challenges,” which Adventists gleefully gather up and endorse and peddle the world over as unanswerable. 

Read them very carefully and notice particularly that not one of these Catholic “challenges” ever locates the time when the “Catholic Church” made the change.  In all these “Challenges” they adroitly leave this point out, and presume on the ignorance of the general public, which supposes that the Catholic Church began centuries after Christ.  Then Adventists take advantage of this popular idea of the Catholic Church and locate the change about 300 years after Christ.  Such deception is unworthy of Christian teachers.

The position of Protestants on the abolition of the Sabbath is so well known that no proof need be given.  All hold that apostles came together on first day.   Catholics claim just the same as Protestants do that the change of the day was made in the time of the apostles and by the apostles and quote Acts 20:7; 1 Cor.  16:2; Rev.  1:10 to prove it just as Protestants do.  The only difference is that Roman Catholics claim that their Church goes back to the apostles, begins with them and includes them.  Hence, when the apostles changed the day it was done by the “Holy Catholic Church.”

That is the whole of it.  This is exactly what all Protestants teach, except that they deny that the apostles were Roman Catholics.  Adventists deny it too.  So as to when, why, where, and by whom the day was changed Catholics agree exactly with Protestants, and contradict what Adventists quote them to prove.  Reader, remember this, and that Adventist bugbear will frighten you no more.

Hastings’ “Dictionary of the Bible,” Article “Lord’s Day,” says, “When Jesus uttered the cry, ‘It is finished,’ the Mosaic dispensation virtually passed away.  His Resurrection, Ascension, and Outpouring of the Holy Spirit were successive affirmations of the great fact, and the destruction of the temple made it plain to all but the blindest.  But in the meantime nothing is more striking than the tender way in which the apostles and Christians of Jewish birth were weaned from the old religion.  The dead leaves of Judaism fell off gradually.  They were not rudely torn off by man.  The new facts, the new dogmas, the new ordinances first established themselves, and then, little by little, the incompatibility of the old and the new was realized which necessarily issued in the casting off of the old as apostles instructed these through divine inspiration.

“The old things of Judaism were made new in Christianity.  This, however, was not accomplished by a deliberate substitution of one ordinance for another; but first the old ordinances were simply antiquated, and their experience matured under the influence of the Holy Spirit, proved that the positive institutions of the new religion more than fulfilled those of the old.” “Jesus enunciated the great truths of the Gospel, and left them to germinate and bear fruit through their own inherent power”.

Adventists are very good at accumulating out of context quotes to uphold their view that the Sabbath was always the day Christians observed until the Catholic Church changed the day. 

Scripture shows that there is no Sabbath in Genesis, the Jewish Sabbath is a ritual done away, and Christians can treat every day alike. The only recorded times Paul went to the synagogue was when he was preaching to the Jews upon his arrival in any town. He preached on Sabbath until they threw him out; he did not go to the synagogue to worship because He was keeping the day holy. Rather, he was doing it to fulfill the Lord’s commission and his own commitment to preach to the Jews first and also to the Greeks.  

The Biblical record show that apostles met on the first day, and also the writings of the early Christians, church fathers, historians show that the first and second century Christians came together on the first (or sometimes called the eighth) day. So what nonsense it is to claim that a change happened in 3rd century when the change had happened already!

There have always been a few sabbatarians, but never the mainstream.  They have always been fringe groups and considered heretical or cultic by the main church. Most of them were rooted in Judaism and not gentile churches. Then, Sabbatarians began to be resurrected England in the time of the Reformation, over five hundred years ago. Yet, they remain outside mainstream till today. 

Adapted: Catholics and the Change of the Sabbath by Dudley Marvin. Retrieved from: loudcry.org

Sabbath is a ritual law, not moral

The evidence for the Sabbath being a ritual ceremonial law is overwhelming.

The Bible is clear that the weekly ritual Jewish Sabbath is not the same rest as God’s seventh day rest in Genesis (Hebrews 4; see Sabbathismos).

The Decalogue had the ritual Sabbath (the only ritual law in the ten commandments), as a sign of the covenant only for Israel.

The uniform testimony of the prophets, Jesus, apostles, mainstream Jews, early church fathers, and the protestant reformers is this: Sabbath is a ritual ceremonial law. Let’s examine these things to see if they are so.

 

1) The Scriptures clearly state that the weekly Sabbath is a feast day.

Leviticus 23 is the one chapter in the Bible that lists all of God’s feasts – the weekly Sabbath as well as the other Holy Days. Weekly Sabbath is one of Gods’ appointed FEASTS!

Lev 23:1-24 “The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are MY APPOINTED FEASTS, the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you are to proclaim as SACRED assemblies. “There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD. “The LORD’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD’s Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; “From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering..On that same day you are to proclaim a sacred assembly and do no regular work.’On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present an offering made to the LORD by fire.'” The LORD said to Moses, “Do no work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the LORD your God. ”  ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the LORD’s Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. It is the closing assembly; do no regular work. (“These are the LORD’s appointed feasts, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing offerings made to the LORD by fire–the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day. These offerings are in addition to those for the LORD’s Sabbaths and in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the LORD.)  So Moses announced to the Israelites the appointed feasts of the LORD.

How clear can it be? It is claimed by Seventh-Day Adventists that the Lord here separates out the Sabbath from all other holy days, showing that it is of a different nature, in these words, verses 37, 38: “These are the feasts of the Lord: beside the Sabbaths of the Lord.” Yes, but read the whole verse, “Beside the Sabbaths of the Lord, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your free-will offerings, which ye give unto the Lord.”

Not only the Sabbath, but gifts, vows and offerings are also excepted with the Sabbath in the same verse. The idea is this: the Sabbath, the gifts, vows and offerings are of regular weekly or daily occurrence, whereas the other holy days and special offerings were to come only once a year at stated seasons. When these yearly offerings and holy days came at the same time of the regular daily or weekly service they were not to take the place of the regular daily and weekly services, but must be observed besides all these. Any one can see that this is the simple meaning of the words “beside the Sabbaths of the Lord, and beside your gifts,” etc. The idea is not to distinguish the Sabbath above the other feasts, but to say that these must be kept in addition to the regular service of the Sabbath and the daily offerings. 

It’s very plain to see what the Sabbath of the decalogue belongs to. It’s a feast day, a ceremonial law, a ritual law.

Simply because Sabbath is placed within the Ten Commandments (location) doesn’t make it a moral law. The reason why Sabbath is categorized with feast days, and ritual law is because it is a feast day, a ritual law. The reason why it is in the ten commandment is because the ten commandments followed a similar pattern to covenant agreements made by people those days. Covenants contained three parts: Promise, Condition, Sign. For instance, a KING would make a covenant with his conquered NATION, not to kill (Promise), if they provide grain and food (Condition). The (Sign) was often arbitrary and could be an earring in the left ear, an ankle bracelet, or any other external sign. Similarly, the Sabbath was the ‘sign [of the covenant] between me [God] and you (Israel)” (Exodus 31:13).

Almost all Sabbatarian groups like the United Church of God, and many others accept that Sabbath is a feast day, and hence they keep all feasts including the weekly Sabbath, unlike SDA’s .

2) The expression “to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day” is used throughout the Old Testament and it is used in ascending or descending order repeatedly and always refers to the weekly, monthly and yearly festivities. 

1 Chron 23:31 “And whenever burnt offerings were presented to the LORD on Sabbaths and at New Moon festivals and at appointed feasts. They were to serve before the LORD regularly in the proper number and in the way prescribed for them.” (here weekly, monthly and yearly is stated).

a) God categorizes Sabbath with new moons and other festivals. Clearly, Sabbath is a ceremonial feast day, a ritual law!

Isaih 66:23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the LORD.

b) In Colossians 2:16-17, Paul explicitly refers to the weekly Sabbath, one of God’s feast days as a shadow of Christ, which is no longer binding since the substance (Christ) has come.

Colossians 2:16-17 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ 

In fact, “Sabbaton” is translated as “weekly Sabbath” 61 times in the New Testament.  Only here in Colossians 2:17 would sabbatarians want to desperately argue that “sabbaton” no longer means the weekly Sabbath day, but even prominent Sabbatarian scholars (including SDA scholars) have eventually concurred that the weekly Sabbath is referred here.

3) The Sabbath is not a moral law because the priests were allowed to profane it 

Matthew 12:5-8 Or have ye not read in the law, how that ON THE SABBATH DAYS THE PRIESTS IN THE TEMPLE PROFANE THE SABBATH, AND ARE BLAMELESS?

Sabbath was a law that could be broken, set aside, and profaned for various reasons without sin (blameless). Which moral law can be profaned? No moral law could be profaned or set aside under any circumstances . Christian are not above it, but are subject to those moral laws (see: Matt 12:5; Num 28:9-10; Josh 6:15; 1 Ki 20:29; Jn 5:10).

4) The Sabbath is not a moral law because Jesus broke the ritual Sabbath without sin (John 5:10)  just like priests could break it and be blameless. He also defended breaking it and gave examples.

John 5:10. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: IT IS NOT LAWFUL FOR THEE TO CARRY THY BED.

Jews were pointing to a law that the Lord Yahweh gave Israel. Note it is not a law that Pharisees or rabbis added to the Sabbath; it is a law God commanded Israel.

Jeremiah 17:21 Thus saith the LORD; Take heed to yourselves, and BEAR NO BURDEN ON THE SABBATH DAY, NOR BRING IT IN BY THE GATES OF JERUSALEM

John 5:10 so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.

Whatever your interpretation or the interpretation of the Jews on NO BURDEN, the letter of the law said NO burden! While Jews had their rabbinic laws added to the Sabbath, however their accusation against Jesus for breaking the Sabbath law is not based on their added laws, but based on the Torah, THUS SAITH THE LORD (Jeremiah 17:21). This will be proven when Jesus defends Sabbath breaking from the Law of God itself (see point 5).

This is not the only incident. Similarly, Pharisees saw disciples going out and picking grain on the Sabbath as Sabbath law breaking because GOD (not their traditions) commanded Israel to stay in one place on the Sabbath, and prepare food on Friday (Ex 16:29-30). That was how they were instructed to observe Sabbath holy. Jesus once again doesn’t conform to the letter of these Sabbath laws. Moreover, Jesus broke ritual laws on uncleanliness without sin. He touched people with skin diseases, leprosy, blood flows (Leviticus 15:7–8; Matthew 8:3) when the law prohibited touching unclean people. Of course He did it for a purpose and to heal people. There is also a greater message here.

In these circumstances, Pharisees understood Jesus was claiming to be God, and breaking the letter of the Sabbath commandment of the Lord. Both accusations have weight:

John 5:18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

What pharisees failed to see was that not only was Jesus claiming to be the divine Messiah, but the shadows (ritual Sabbath, Cleansing laws) loses their significance when they had the reality (Jesus). Jesus went on to say, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matt. 11:28). True rest is not found in a day but a person. That’s why Paul says Sabbath was a shadow, and the reality is Christ (Col 2:16, 17). 

5) When Jesus’ disciples were hungry on a Sabbath day, and they were picking some heads of grain in a field to eat them. They were accused of breaking the Sabbath: Matt 12:1-6 “At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, ‘Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.'”

Jesus defends His disciples and His Sabbath actions with 2 arguments:

  1. Matt. 12:3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread-which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests.

Please ask yourselves: What type of law was David breaking? Moral or ceremonial? It is obvious, it was ceremonial. David was never above the moral law. He had to pay dearly for his sin with Bathseba!

2. Matt. 12:5 “Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent?”

Again, giving precedence to the ceremonial priestly law over the Sabbath.

In both of these scenarios given by Jesus Himself, what category is the Sabbath placed under? Moral or ceremonial? 

If David could break the ceremonial law, if priests could break the Sabbath, and if circumcision could be carried out on Sabbath, then Jesus is over and above the ceremonial Sabbath law. Jesus is: Matt 12:8 “Lord of the Sabbath.” This was Jesus’ response and this further shows that he not only broke the letter of the Sabbath law without sin, but he defended breaking it citing Scripture and taught that the ritual Sabbath can be set aside, or broken without sin.

Now let me ask you another question. Could an Israelite kill someone in order to circumcise his child? Could a Jew steal in order to circumcise his child? Could a priest covet in order to do his calling? No, never. These ceremonial laws were never seen as being above the moral law! Why, then, could they break the Sabbath law in favour of their ceremonial law? Why is it that they could not break 9 moral commands in the ten commandments or thousands of morals laws in the Bible for any reason, but the law about the Sabbath could be broken in favour of the ceremonial law? Think about it!

5) Sabbath is not a moral law because the Israelites could honour their ceremonial laws above the Sabbath law.

Jesus Himself declared:

John 7:21-23 “Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath?”

Circumcision took precedence over Sabbath. The law of Moses stated that every male child was to be circumcised on the eighth day. If this day happened to fall on the Sabbath day, the child would be circumcised, despite the fact that this was working on the Sabbath day of rest and breaking it! Clearly showing Sabbath is ceremonial, and circumcision had higher value as a ritual more than Sabbath. The message was no one was expected to observe the rituals  like the Sabbath unless they became Jews first through circumcision, the entrance sign of the old covenant.

6) The Prophets treated Sabbath as a Ceremonial Law.

Isaiah 1:13: “Bring no more futile sacrificeincense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the SABBATHS, and the calling of assemblies – I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts, My soul hates; they are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them.”

Here God counts all the SABBATHS along with the rest of the Ceremonial Law, when He tells Israel not to bother keeping it (even though He had ordained it), because it has no value to Him with Israel in sin. However God would never command Israel to stop keeping any of the Moral Law! The Sabbath is Ceremonial!

Hosea 2:11: “I will also cause all her mirth to cease, Her feast days, Her New Moons, Her Sabbaths – all her appointed feasts.” 


Again God classifies the Sabbaths among the Ceremonial Laws, and who are we to do otherwise? According to this prophecy, it is God Who will cause Israel’s Sabbaths to cease for a period of time. That is, He will cancel His Sabbath Command to Israel. He fulfilled this prophecy by annulling the Old Covenant and bringing in the New Covenant for this Dispensation, which has no Sabbath Law or feast days.

Hebrews 7:12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

Now it is not possible for God to cause His Moral Law to cease or pass away, as it is eternal and unchanging. Therefore all the things mentioned in this verse (including the Sabbaths) are Ceremonial.

8) The Law treats the Sabbath as ceremonial in nature by its requirements. 

Numbers 28:9-10 And on the sabbath day two lambs of the first year without spot, and two tenth deals of flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, and the drink offering thereof: This is the burnt offering of EVERY sabbath, beside the continual burnt offering, and his drink offering.

Sabbath was part of the ritual worship system of Israel, and when the priesthood change (Jesus is our high priest now), so did this ritual system of Sabbath law changed. It is not longer binding, not commanded in the new covenant, neither is there an example of Christians observing this ritual, but Christians have the liberty to observe it, but not to judge anyone if they don’t (Col. 2;16,17).

9) Whereas the MORAL Law of God is based on His nature and is eternal, transcending time and all covenants, circumstances and local conditions; the Sabbath Law, by nature and definition, is temporal and created, not eternal. It was given for the first time in Exodus 16 only to the Jews. There is no time in eternity, but Sabbath is based on earth-time, marking one day in seven, so it is clearly temporal and creational.

10)  A moral law, unlike a ceremonial or ritual law,  is in effect 24/7 (every nanosecond of time) and not merely once a year, season, month, or week. Also, moral laws are never trumped by any ceremonial laws (i.e., ritual circumcision on the eighth day, priestly sacrifices, weekly showbread placement, etc.), and they never allow any exceptions due to works of charity, mercy, or necessity for proper compliance. Surely, there is never a valid excuse to worship another god, to murder someone, to steal something, to commit adultery, etc.

11) Mark 2:27,28: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath”

Here Jesus was clearly correcting the error of the Jewish Rabbis who elevated the Sabbath above man. He points out that the Sabbath Law is not eternal, but that it it was made (created) for man. However, moral Law is before man and above man, but the Sabbath Law came after man, exists for man and so is under man, therefore the Son of Man who is Lord of the Sabbath, meaning have authority over the Sabbath, and is above it!

Jesus makes the statement that He is Lord over the Sabbath, after defending that He can break it and still be blameless  just like David could break the ritual law be blameless:

Mark 2:24-27 Now it happened that He went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?

25 But He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: 26 how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?”

27 And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”

11) Moreover the Sabbath started at Moses (Ex. 16) – if it was a Moral Commandment it would have applied from the beginning. If the Sabbath is part of the eternal moral character of God, it would have been observed in heaven in eternity past before creation. Instead, the Sabbath was created for man under the Mosaic law, and it is related to the rotation cycle of earth. Unless heaven and other planets have the same rotation cycle it is irrelevant. Revelation indicates that the day-night cycle will cease in the new earth (Revelation 21:25), implying that there will be no Sabbaths.

13) Natural law and the conscience do not reveal that a man should observe a day or seventh day unless it is commanded.

Rom. 2:14‑15 “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another.”

Think about this for a moment. Regardless of what country, what culture or language you were raised with we ALL have morality stamped within our conscience. Adolescent children all around the world naturally know it is wrong to lie, to steal, and to murder and commit adultery – this is how gentiles knew about the moral law of God even without the LAW. However no one naturally feels guilty about not resting 1 day in 7. That is the difference between a rule that is based on moral right and wrong, and a rule that is practiced because of a ceremonial nature.

Man’s conscience does not naturally tell him that he is being immoral, if he does some work on a Saturday, whereas it would convict him of sin, if he broke any of the moral commands. Therefore our God-given conscience tells us that by its very nature, the Sabbath is not absolute Moral Law.

14) If the Sabbath Law was Moral Law, it would have also been included in the New Testament, but it is not, in contrast to all the other 9 Commandments, and thousands of moral commands which are all clearly moral.

Although Jesus kept the Sabbath as a Jew who lived under the Law before the Cross, that is no basis for us to keep the Sabbath today. He also observed circumcision which is superior to Sabbath law and many other laws in the Mosaic law. Should we too?

Although He gave us many Commandments for the new dispensation, He never gave the Sabbath Law. Not only is it absent from the teaching of Jesus, but also from the teaching of His Apostles, and from example of gentile Christians (see no Christian Sabbath keeping in Acts). This would be a glaring omission if it were a vital moral Commandment that we had to keep. This is especially true, with all the Gentiles coming into the Church, who were not used to keeping the SabbathIf it was an eternal Moral Law, then it would be a major New Testament teaching, and one of the main things that would have had to be taught to new converts. If the Sabbath was Law for us now, it would surely be in the New Testament. The absence of the Sabbath Law in the New Testament is further proof that it is Ceremonial just like the Bible states it.

In fact, when the issue arose concerning what parts of the Law of Moses the Gentile converts should keep, there was a Church Council to decide the issue (Acts 15:1-29) and the Sabbath was not even mentioned. When the leaders gave the list of requirements for believing Gentiles to keep, the Sabbath was not included, in fact there was nothing specifically from the Law of Moses that was given for the believing Gentiles to keep. If God wants New Testament Gentile believers to obey the Sabbath then surely it would have been brought up in Acts 15.

Paul explicitly states in Col 2:16, 17 that the weekly Sabbath was a shadow that pointed to Jesus, and that as such it is not the basis for judgment of a Christian.

Further, God condemned heathen gentile nations for murder, idol worship, child sacrifices but never for not observing the Sabbath in the old testament. There is no command or even an example of anyone observe the seventh day in Genesis. If Sabbath is so vital, we would have had plenty of instructions for violating. Instead, the WEEKLY Sabbath was GIVEN only to the Jewish nation, and its SIGN, RITUAL distinguished them from the rest of the nations. Moral laws are for all people and they are never a SIGN such as circumcision, passover, sabbath!

15) Jesus, the apostles, the early church fathers, Luther, Calvin, all understood that Sabbath was ceremonial. None of these believed that the Pope or Roman Catholic church changed the Sabbath. Instead they saw that it was abrogated as clearly stated in the new testament and by the apostles.

Jesus taught that the Sabbath law is a ritual law unlike moral laws where people are not above it.

“The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27)

Mainstream Jews taught that Sabbath was not a universal moral law given to everyone but just the Jews:

The Jewish Talmud says: “The children of Noah…were given seven Laws only, the observance of the Sabbath not being among them.” (Soncino edition, p. 131),Sanhedrin 56 a, b; and Midrash Song of Songs Rabbah 1:2(5) (Soncino edition, pp. 26-27).

Jews believe that Sabbath is a ritual law, not a moral law; the only ritual law in the Ten (See: Jewfacts.org)

Apostles inspired by the Holy Spirit taught that in the new covenant, no one should judge anyone on the Sabbath, Christian can treat every day (all seven days) alike, those who insist on observing days for any reason connected to meriting favor from God do not understand the gospel:

Col. 2:16 ”Therefore do not let anyone judge you..with regard to a Sabbath day”

Rom. 14:5 ”One man regards a certain day above the others, while someone else considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind”

Gal 4: 10, 11 ”You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain

Testimony of the early church fathers, some of whom who learned from the mouth of the apostles was that Sabbath was not kept before Moses, nor is it binding in the new covenant:

Ignatius of Antioch (AD 110): ”If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death (Letter to the Magnesians(shorter) Chapter IX.—Let us live with Christ [A.D. 110]).

Justin Martyr (AD 155): For if there was no need of circumcision before Abraham, or of the observance of Sabbaths, of feasts and sacrifices, before Moses; no more need is there of them now, after that, according to the will of God, Jesus Christ the Son of God has been born without sin, of a virgin sprung from the stock of Abraham (The Second Apology of Justin for the Christians Addressed to the Roman Senate. Chapter XXIII.—The opinion of the Jews regarding the law does an injury to God).

Tertullian (AD 203): “Let him who contends that the Sabbath is still to be observed as a balm of salvation, and circumcision on the eighth day . . . teach us that, for the time past, righteous men kept the Sabbath or practiced circumcision, and were thus rendered ‘friends of God.’ Therefore, since God originated Adam uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbath..(An Answer to the Jews Chapter II.—The Law Anterior to Moses. [A.D. 203]).

Augustine of Hippo (AD 400): When you ask why a Christian does not keep the Sabbath, if Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, my reply is, that a Christian does not keep the Sabbath precisely because what was prefigured in the Sabbath is fulfilled in Christ. For we have our Sabbath in Him who said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Reply to Faustus the Manichæan. Book XIX.-9)

Even SDA J.N Andrews admitted about early church fathers: “We must, therefore, pronounce Justin a man who held to the abrogation of the ten commandments, and that the Sabbath was a Jewish institution which was unknown before Moses, and of no authority since Christ. He held Sunday to be the most suitable day for public worship.” Page 44. This is the doctrine that the early church and fathers held. 

Martin Luther taught the validity of the moral law of the old covenant but saw Sabbath as ceremonial.

Scripture has abrogated the Sabbath day; for it teaches that since the gospel has been revealed, all the ceremonies of the old law can be omitted” (Article 28, The Augsburg Confession(1530)).

John Calvin wrote:

First, with the seventh day of rest the Lord wished to give to the people of Israel an image of spiritual rest…there is no doubt that it ceased in Christ (Col. 2:17),  Hence, though the sabbath is abrogated, it so happens among us that we still convene on certain days in order to hear the word of God” ([From Instruction in Faith, Calvin’s own 1537 digest of the Institutes, sec. 8, “The Law of the Lord”].


Sabbatarians falsely argue that the Sabbath law is a moral law merely because it is in the ten commandments.

What does the argument: “because it is in the 10 commandments” prove? NOTHING! The Sabbath law is not “moral” just because it was numbered with the other nine commandments. They are assuming the point to be proved and this is circular reasoning! What’s engraved on stone (ten) and with ink (ten including law of Moses) is done away (2 Cor. 3:7). In other words we don’t go to stones tables or law of Moses to know if killing is wrong. We go to the teaching of Jesus and the apostles who reiterates all moral principles of God, but who clearly states that many laws have changed now in the new covenant like circumcision, Sabbaths, dietary laws etc.

Another false Adventist argument is that the Sabbath law is moral BECAUSE violation was punishable by death: Ex 31:15;35:2. Yet the truth is that all the following non-moral or ceremonial laws were punishable by death:

  • For touching the Ark: 2 Sam 6:7
  • Aaron’s sons, (Nadab and Abihu) priests were killed for violating ceremonial law when offering incense to Jehovah: Lev 10:1-5
  • for touching the mount Horeb: Ex 19:12-13
  • Unauthorized entrance into the holy place of the tabernacle: Lev 16:2
  • For looking into the Ark: 1 Sam 6:19
  • For disobeying ceremonial commands of any Priest: Deuteronomy 17:12-13; Exodus 31:14 “Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.”

Sabbatarians are falsely taught that the Sabbath is moral because spoken by God verbally and personally written on stone. Yet God verbally and personally spoke many “ceremonial laws”, and what’s engraved on stone is done away:

  • God verbally and personally spoke many altar, sacrifice and offering laws at exactly the same time he have the 10 commandments: Ex 20:21-26
  • Sabbatarians would admit that the “foremost” moral law, to love God and your neighbour as yourself, was not even spoken verbally and personally by God. Mt 22:36-40. This alone proves that the “verbal/personal” argument is invalid!
  • God verbally and personally spoke to many from Adam to Moses regarding burnt offerings: Cain and Abel’s offerings
  • God verbally and personally spoke the land promise: Gen 17:8
  • God verbally and personally spoke the law of circumcision: Gen 17:10
  • God verbally and personally spoke to all these: Job 38:1; 42:7; 1 Ki 19:9,12; 1 Sam 23:12; 30:8,10; Ex 33:11; Num 12:8; Deut 5:3
  • The Bible nowhere teaches that things verbally, personally or handwritten by God are eternal! What’s one stone is out!

The Sabbath is moral and sacred inherently in itself?

  • Other than merely stating this, what proof do Sabbatarians offer??? None! But we can prove otherwise!
  • The First seventh day was sanctified not because it was inherently moral, but because God rested on that day! The seventh day was not holy because it was the seventh day, but because God declared it to be and MADE it holy above the other six days of the week after he rested on it!
  • [God made this specific day Holy, not every seventh day, and He did not command Adam and Eve to observe it! This day had a REST that was much bigger than a weekly rest as Hebrews 4 shows, and we can enter it every day, TODAY, as Hebrews 4 clearly states.
  • God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, but that does not mean that he required people to rest on it. As the Jubilee year shows (Lev. 25:8-12), time can be holy without requiring a rest.]
  • The day itself did not make it holy, resting on it did not make it holy, but God blessing and hallowing it did. Thus its holiness did not come from its own nature but from an act of God in blessing and hallowing it.
  • In this regard, the first seventh day is no more inherently “holy” than any of the other Jewish weekly Sabbath or other holy days that God blessed and set apart in the Law of Moses.
  • The Jewish weekly Sabbath was MADE in Exodus 16 for the first time, and was a shadow of God’s rest in Genesis.

Paul explicitly states in Col 2:16, 17 that this weekly Jewish Sabbath was a shadow that pointed to Jesus, and that as such it is not the basis for judgment of a Christian. He explicitly states in Romans 14 that Christians are free to observe special days, and Christians are free to treat very single day the same. Paul says explicitely in Gal. 4 that saying a person is required by God to keep special days and times and so forth, puts the Christian back into the slavery he was set free from.

(The above has been adapted from LoudCry.org, and various Sabbath articles)

The New & Old Covenants

No other subject perplexes Adventists so much as the covenants. They dread to meet it. They have tried various ways to explain it away, but they are not satisfactory even to themselves. I have been there and know. The abolition of the Sinatic covenant carries with it the abolition of the Jewish Sabbath so completely that no authoritative trace of it can be found this side of the grave of our risen Lord.

Adventist Elder Smith said: “If the ten commandments constituted the old covenant, then they are forever gone.” “This, therefore, becomes a test question.” Two Covenants, page 5. 

We will soon see the force of this. Jer. 31:31, 32, says: “Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.

Here we learn these facts about the first, or old covenant:

1. It was made between God and Israel.

2. It was made when he brought them out of Egypt.

3. A new covenant is to be made.

4. It will not be according to the old one.

Adventists and all agree that this old covenant is found in Ex. 19 to 24. We all know that the ten commandments, how and why they were given, are the prominent things in those five chapters. We also know that they are called “the covenant,” that was given on Sinai or Horeb.

Thus: “And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire; ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice. And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.

“The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.” Deut. 4:12,13; 5:2,3. Then follows the ten commandments as the covenant named. Again: “The tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the Lord made with you.” Deut. 9:9. So also, “and he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.” Ex. 34:28. Surely this is plain enough for a common man. 

What is a covenant? As the decalogue alone is not a mutual agreement, it must enter into, and so become a part of, some agreement, to be called the covenant as it is so frequently. Examining, we find that the decalogue was the very basis of the covenant at Sinai; the chief thing in the covenant between God and Israel. This even Elder Smith owns: “It was the basis of the whole arrangement.” The Two Covenants, page 10. Being the chief thing in the covenant, it is by way of eminence put for the whole and so called “the covenant.”

Opening to Ex. 19, we read: “In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.” Verse 1. It was at Sinai as they came out of Egypt. Moses was mediator.

Verse 3. The Lord sends him to say to Israel “If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine.”

Verse. 5. Moses goes and repeats this offer to the Jews: they say: “All that the Lord hath said we will do.”

Verse 8. Here was an agreement, a covenant, between God and Israel. They agree to obey his voice. He agrees to bless them. Next they prepare to hear his voice. Verses 9-25.

In Chap. 20 God speaks the ten commandments and follows them with various precepts through Moses to the end of chapter 23, closing with a promise to bless their bread and water, to take away sickness from them, to drive out the Canaanites and give them the land

Chapter 24:1-8, relates how Moses then rehearsed to the people “all the words of the Lord and all the judgments.” Again they agree to obey.

Verse 3. Then “Moses wrote all the words of the Lord” in a book.

Verse 4. Assembling the people again, he read “the book of the covenant” to them, and the third time they say, “All that the Lord hath said we will do.” Verse 7.

Verse 8. “And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, ‘behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.’  

That closed the covenant. We know that this was the first, or old, covenant, for the author of Hebrews, quoting this very verse, says it was. Heb. 9:18-20. 

Heb 8:13-9:5

8:13  By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

9:1 Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. 2 A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lamp stand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, 4 which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.

Notice that the Old Covenant included ceremonial aspects, and also the “stone tables of the covenant.”  It cannot be any clearer. That settles it.

How much did the covenant embrace? Only one truthful answer can be given, viz. All included in the record from Ex. 19:1 to Ex. 24:8, for this is the covenant in detail written out.

Is the decalogue included in it? As well deny that the sun shines, for there it is written out in full in the very heart of the covenant. Ex. 20:1-17. As Smith said above, “It was the basis of the whole arrangement.” It was so prominent a part of the covenant that it alone is put for the whole covenant, as we often speak of seeing a vessel, a house, or a river, when we saw only a part of it. 

Hence:

  • The stones on which the decalogue was written are called “the tables of the covenant,” Deut. 9:9
  • The book in which it was written was called “the book of the covenant,” Ex. 24:7
  • The ark in which it was deposited was called “the ark of the covenant,” Deut. 31:26.

But Ex. 19-24, is only an epitome of the covenant; for all the subsequent teachings of Moses are only a further explanation of it and belonged to it. Indeed, it gave its name to the whole Old Testament, that is, Old Covenant.

This covenant was only national and temporal, given only to the Jews and referred only to earthly blessings. It made no reference to the future life. It was an engagement of God, to give Israel possession of Canaan,” etc. “It did not refer to the final salvation of individuals.” On Ex. 19:5.

Now notice how plainly and how repeatedly the ten commandments are called “the covenant,” which God gave at Sinai to Israel when he brought them out of Egypt.

  • “And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.” Deut. 4:13.
  • “When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the Lord made with you.” Deut. 9:9.

What covenant was on the tables of stone? The one the Lord made with them. Again he tells when it was made and what it was:

  • “The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day. The Lord talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire (I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to shew you the word of the Lord: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount), saying, I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. Thou shalt have none other gods before me.” Deut. 5:2-7. So He goes on giving the ten commandments. That ought to settle it. 
  • “And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.” Ex. 34:27, 28.

If that is not plain enough, what would be?

  • “There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.” “And I have set there a place for the ark, wherein is the covenant of the Lord, which he made with our fathers when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.” 1 Kings, 8:9-21.
  • “And in it have I put the ark, wherein is the covenant of the Lord, that he made with the children of Israel.” 2 Chron. 6:11.

This shuts off all possible doubt as to what the covenant was. 1) There was nothing in the ark except the tables of stone. 2) Yet in that ark was “the covenant of the Lord which he made with Israel when he brought them out of Egypt.” That certainly was the ten commandments. Elder Smith says: “If the ten commandments constituted the old covenant, then they are forever gone.Two Covenants, page 5. So they are indeed as we will now see.

That Covenant Is Done Away

As we have seen, Jeremiah, Chap. 31:31-34, foretold that the Lord would make a new covenant not according to the old one. The author of Hebrews quotes this in full and says it is fulfilled in the gospel, thus: 

“But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, a new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” Heb. 8:6-13.

Notice the points in this. 

1. Jesus is mediator of a better covenant than the old. Verse 6. Then we have something better than the decalogue. 

2. The new is established on better promises than the old, which as we have seen, were all temporal. See Ex. 23:22-33. But the promises of the new covenant are all spiritual. They are

(1) God’s laws are to be in their hearts.

(2) All shall know the Lord, as only converted souls will be admitted; whereas under the old, every member of the nation, good or bad, was a citizen.

(3) God will forgive and forget all their sins, and so they will all be saints and heirs of heaven.

(4) Hebrews says that if the first covenant had been faultless, no place would have been sought for a second. 

This shows that the first covenant was always imperfect. Hence the Lord says he will make a new one, not according to the old one. Then we cannot have the old decalogue right over again unchanged. Finally, Hebrews says the first is made old and is ready to vanish away. That ends the old covenant, the one from Sinai, the ten commandments as the Bible shows.

In 2 Cor. 3 Paul makes it even plainer still that the decalogue has been removed.

Verse 3. “Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart. verse 6. Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament [covenant] not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 7. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away; 8. How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9. For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 11. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. 13. And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14. But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which vail is done away in Christ.”

Observe the following points: 

1. Verse 3 refers to the prophecy of Jeremiah that a new covenant would supersede the old one on stones. Now Paul says it is not written with ink as the law of Moses was in a book, nor on stones as the decalogue was, but by the spirit in the heart. The law in the book and on stones have both gone. 

2. Verse 6: he says the apostles do not minister the letter but the spirit. “The letter refers exclusively to *the law*.” “The context shows that by the letter he meant the old covenant and by the spirit the new.”

3. To put it beyond all doubt, as to what he means, Paul, in verse 7, specifies “the ministration of death written and engraven in stones.” Surely we know that this was the decalogue. This he calls “the ministration of death.” 

4. In verses 8 and 9 he calls the gospel “the ministration of the spirit” and “the ministration of righteousness” and says that it exceeds in glory the old ministration of death. 

5. To put it beyond doubt that he means the decalogue, he refers to the vail which Moses put over his face when he came down with the tables of stone in his hands. Compare verse 13 with Ex. 34:27-35.

6. Twice Paul directly names that which was “written in stone,” verses 3 and 7; once he says we do not minister the letter, verse 6; he says that that which was engraven in stones was the ministration of death, verse 7, and the “ministration of condemnation,” verse 9; then he says this was “abolished,” verse 13, and three times he says it “was done away,”verses 7, 11, 14. 7.

Compare verses 7 and 11. “The ministration of death written and engraven in stones was glorious” and “that which is done away was glorious;” the very thing which was written in stones in verse 7, is said to “be done away” in verse 11.

8. In verse 7 the ten commandments are evidently taken to represent the whole Mosaic dispensation. If these, the foundation of the whole system, are removed, then of course all the system must go with them. “The ten commandments thus written here represent the whole Mosaic economy.”

Adventists have tried to save their theory here by saying that in verse 7, “ministration” was not what was “engraven” in stones; but that “death” is what was written there. This will not do. In the Greek the word for engraven exactly agrees with *ministration* but does not agree with *death*, hence the decalogue is what is called “the ministration,” and that was done away. Dr. Adam Clarke says on this verse: “Here the apostle evidently intends the law.” “This ministration of death, the ten commandments, written on stones, a part of the Mosaic institution, being put for the whole, was glorious.”

The Pulpit Commentary on this verse says: “Literally, *engraved in* letters on stones (Ex. 31:18). The reference shows that, in speaking of ‘the letter,’ St. Paul was only thinking of the Mosaic Law, and indeed, specifically of the decalogue.” How can a candid man deny that Paul meant this very thing, the decalogue?

To the Galatians Paul also writes that the covenant of Sinai has gone. It will be seen that he uses “covenant” and “law” as synonymous, showing that the law was the covenant [cf: ”Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments (Mal. 4:4); ”The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb” (Deut. 5:2)].

“Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.” Gal. 4:21-24. Here the old law covenant of Sinai is declared to be “bondage” and he says “Be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Chap. 5:1.

So in Heb. 12:18-24, Paul distinctly says that Christians do not go to Sinai and the thunders of the law, but they come to Jesus and the new covenantRead it all. Here are a few sentences:

For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest. And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake: But ye are come unto Mount Sion. And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.”

Adventists are always dwelling upon the terrible scenes at Sinai at the giving of the law and pointing others there; but Paul says, No, do not go there; but to Mount Sion, to Jesus and the new covenant, to its teachings.

So Jeremiah predicted the rejection of the covenant in the ark and that instead of it, men would seek to the name of the Lord at Jerusalem where the gospel went forth.

“In those days, saith the Lord, they shall say no more, the ark of the, covenant of the Lord: neither shall it come to mind; neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem.” Jer. 3:16,17.

Adventists are trying to revive the very thing the Lord said should be forgotten, “the ark of the covenant.” All their study and worship is centered around that just as of old with the Jews. But the effort is vain. God has said it. Since the cross Jesus and Jerusalem have been where all eyes have turned while the ark and old covenant are forgotten, just as the Lord said it would be. So Isa. 2:3; “Out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” There is where we now go for the law, not to the ark or to Sinai.

Adapted: Covenants by Dudley Marvin. Retrieved from : https://www.nonegw.org/canright/sdar19.htm

The Decalogue Examined

The Decalogue Examined


With Seventh-Day Adventists the decalogue is the one supreme moral and spiritual law of God, than which there is none higher. It is the law which governs the angels in heaven. It governs all men in all ages, and in the world to come. These tencommandments cover the whole duty of man, so that there is no sin which can be committed that is not a violation of this law, while at the same time it enjoins every virtue. 

But these claims are extravagant and unfounded. A desire to sustain the seventh-day Sabbath has led to this false position on the decalogue. Twenty-five hundred years, nearly half the entire history of the world, passed away before the decalogue was given at all, as the Bible clearly says. This is strange if the decalogue is so all important.

Let us examine it. Moses says distinctly that all the words which the Lord spoke were written on the tables of stone:

“And the Lord delivered unto me two tables of stone, written with the finger of God: and on them was written according to all the words which the Lord spake with you in the Mount, out of the midst of the fire.” Deut. 9:10

This text is too decisive to be evaded. All that God spoke was written on the tables and was a part of the decalogue. Here are the first of those words: 

And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” etc. Ex. 20:1-3. 

These words are as much a part of the decalogue as any of the rest of it. They were spoken by God from heaven, written by his finger, were engraven on the stone, and put in the ark. Now look at the law chart which Seventh-Day Adventists hang up as the “law of God.” Are these words on there? No, indeed. Why are they left off ? 

Because, if put on, they would spoil their whole theory of that law. They claim that this law is binding upon the angels. But how would this sound to the angels: “I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage”? Were the angels in bondage in Egypt? Would not that sound a little queer to Gabriel and the seraphs, to be told that they had been in bondage in Egypt? Read it to Adam. That would have been news to him to learn that he had been in bondage in Egypt! Read it to a free-born American; read it to all the redeemed hosts in heaven. To whom are the words applicable? Just to the Jewish nation and to no others. For them the decalogue was framed and to them it was given. For years I searched to find one text stating that THIS law was ever given to any people but the Jews. I never found it. These first words show plainly that it was addressed only to them.

Seventh-Day Adventists assert that the Sabbath precept is the only thing in the decalogue that tells who gave it. Thus: “Aside from this precept [the Sabbath] there is nothing in the decalogue to show by whose authority the law is given.” Mrs. White, in Great Controversy, page 284

This is not true. The introductory words tell plainly who gave it. It was the God who brought them out of Egypt. Here are the name, signature and seal of that law in the first words of it. Here God stands before them as their *Deliverer*, rather than as their *Creator*. Their obedience to these commands is based upon this fact. See how plain it is. I am the Lord thy God that brought thee out of Egypt, therefore thou shalt do thus and so. Egypt, not Eden, is pointed to. In the copy of the decalogue as given in Deut. 5:6-21, there is no reference whatever to creation, while deliverance from Egypt is made prominent. “To extend it further than its own preface is to violate the rules of criticism.”

What an unnatural and unheard of thing it would be, in giving an important document, to sign the, name of the author in the middle of it, as Sabbatarians say the Lord did in giving the decalogue! In our time the name is signed at the close of a document; but anciently, specially among the Jews, the name of the author was, always given first, in the first sentence of the document. 

Thus:

  • “Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra,” etc. Ezra 7:12.
  • The vision of Isaiah,” etc. Isa. 1:1.
  • “The words of Jeremiah,” etc. Jer. 1:1.
  • “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,” etc. Rom. 1:1.
  • “James, a servant of God,” etc. Jas. 1:1.
  • “Peter, an apostle,” etc. 1 Pet. 1:1. 

So it is all through the Bible, the name and authority are given first, then follows the body of the document. Just so the Lord, according to this ancient custom then in use and familiar to all, in giving the decalogue first announces his name, “the Lord thy God,” and his power, “that brought thee out of Egypt.”

This he does in the opening words of that law. Here, then, in the very first words of the decalogue, and not in the Sabbath precept in the middle of the law, is the name of the law-giver. Jehovah, who brought them out of Egypt. This settles it that this law was not given till then, was given only to the Jews and was designed for no others.

To illustrate: Opening to a law passed by the legislature of Michigan, February 16, 1882, I read: “Be it enacted by the senate and house of representatives of the state of Michigan,” etc. Now suppose that some one should claim that this law was passed one thousand years ago and was designed for the whole world. Would not these opening words show that this law was not enacted till Michigan became a state and that it was designed only for the people of Michigan? Assuredly. 

Just so the opening words of the decalogue show that this law was not given till God brought Israel out of Egypt, that it was given to them and to no others. If any one will find a copy of the decalogue before this time, we will give up the case. All the way through it there are evidences that it was worded to fit only the Jewish nation in their peculiar circumstances.

Take the Sabbath commandment: “Thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man servant, nor thy maid servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.” Ex. 20:10

Think of that commandment being given to angels in Heaven! “Sons,” “daughters,” and “thy neighbor’s wife,” verse 17, when they neither marry nor are given in marriage! 

Again: “Cattle,” “ox,” “ass,” etc. Do the angels own cattle and work oxen and asses in heaven? So “man servants and maid servants.” This means bond servants or slaves, such as the Hebrews owned in those days. This is shown also by the tenth commandment, verse 17. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s man servant, nor his maid servant, nor his ox, nor his ass.”

 These were his property, servants or slaves, oxen, asses, etc. But do the angels own slaves? Did Adam have servants in Eden? Will the redeemed own them hereafter? What nonsense to apply this law to the angels and to Eden and to heaven! This wording was specially adapted to the social condition of the Jews as a nation in the land of Canaan, and to no others.

Once more: “Thy stranger that is within thy gates.” Verse 10. As everybody knows, “the stranger” was the Gentile. “Within thy gates” was a common expression meaning within your cities or dwelling in your land. It has no reference to living on your farm or inside the gates that enclose your farm, as Adventists always explain it. The towns were walled in and entered by gates. Here is where the judges sat and all business was done. Thus: “All that went in at the gate of his city.” Gen. 23:10. “Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates.” Deut. 16:18. To this custom of the Jews the Sabbath commandment refers. All the Gentiles dwelling in their cities among them must be made to keep the Sabbath. This shows it to be a national law, worded in all its parts to fit the circumstances of the Jews at the time.

This command, then, could not apply to any but the Jews there.

Again, the fifthcommandment: “The land which the Lord giveth them,” verse 12, plainly refers to Canaan, which God gave them.

The ninth precept: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbors” This does not relate to lying in general, but only to a false oath against a neighbor in court. See Deut. 19:15-19. A man could tell a hundred lies which would not be false witness against a neighbor. The command against lying is found in Lev. 19:11: “Neither lie one to another.” This is a moral precept much broader than the ninth commandment.

Every principle contained in the decalogue is also found time and again laid down in the law of Moses, either in the same or similar words. Thus, for example: Lev. 19 reiterates every principle found in the ten commandments, with many more besides. How erroneous, then, to call one (ten commandments) the moral law and the other the ceremonial law, when both are of the same nature, the decalogue simply being representative precepts from the law of Moses.

But the chief argument used to prove the superior nature of the ten commandments is that they were spoken by God’s voice, written by His finger on stone, and placed in the ark, while all the rest of the law was written by the hand of Moses in a book.

Why were these commandments thus selected out and given in such a manner if not to exalt them above all others?

The answer is easy: According to the custom of those times, any solemn contract or covenant was commemorated by selecting some object as witness or testimony of it. Thus:

  • Jacob erected a pillar as a witness of his vow to God. Gen. 28:18.
  • Jacob and Laban made a heap of stones as witness of their covenant. Gen. 31:48.
  • Abraham set apart seven lambs as “a witness” of his covenant with Abimelech. Gen. 21:27-30.

Just so when the solemn covenant was made between God and Israel at Sinai, the Lord gave them the tables of stone to be always kept as a witness or “testimony” of that agreement. Hence they are called the tables of testimony,” that is, witness. Ex. 31:18. 

So the tabernacle was “the tabernacle of testimony,” Num. 1:53; or, “the tabernacle of witness,” Num. 17:7. These tables of stone, then, containing some of the chief items of the law, were always to be kept as “witness” of the covenant which Israel had made to keep that law. Evidently this is the reason why the decalogue was given as it was, and not because it was a perfect and eternal law in and of itself.

Manifestly it would have been impossible to carry around the whole law if written on stones; hence only a few samples out of that law could have been selected and put on stones to be kept as a witness of that covenant. So the reason why God spoke these words was not because it was a perfect law, but to impress their minds so that they never would forget it. This is just what God says himself: “I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live.” Deut. 4:10. How much more simple and manifest these reasons are than the imaginary ones invented by Sabbatarians.

That the decalogue was merely the national law for the Jews and temporal in its obligation, is proved by the fact that stoning to death was the penalty for its violation.When death was thus inflicted upon a man, he had paid the penalty of that law, and all the penalty there was. But is stoning to death the penalty for God’s moral law? No, that is eternal death at the judgment. A man who is hung for murder has paid the penalty of the law of our land, the same as the Jew who was stoned paid the penalty of the law of his land. Will God judge a man the second time at the judgment by the law of our land after he has once paid its penalty by hanging? No, but he will be judged by another and a higher law, the great spiritual law of God. And so it will be with the Jews. They will never be judged the second time by the decalogue, for that was only national, but by the higher law, the one that requires supreme love to God, and love to man as to himself. A law without a penalty is a nullity; but stoning, the penalty attached to the decalogue, was abolished at the cross; hence the law also ceased there too.

Seventh-Day Adventists claim that the ten commandments are a perfect law, condemning every possible sin and requiring every possible virtue. But this is all assumption and contrary to the manifest truth. Which one of the ten commandments condemns pride, boasting, drunkenness, unthankfulness, love of pleasure, anger, filthy talk, impatience, variance, selfishness, and the like? 

Which one of the ten commandments requires us to feed the poor, to visit the fatherless and the widow, to suffer long and be kind, to be gentle, meek, temperate, to pray, to repent, to go to meeting, to forgive, and the like?

No, the, decalogue does no such thing, because it was made for no such purpose. It was merely prohibitory in its nature. The man who merely did nothing, who simply avoided crime, kept that law. But the law of God, by which a Christian must live, requires him to do, and to do much. He must love God, love his neighbor, love his enemies, visit the widow and the needy, suffer wrong, be patient, entertain strangers, and be active in every good work.

It requires unceasing activity and the consecration of all our energies to good works; but the decalogue requires nothing but to avoid open crime. The decalogue alone is never called the law of God, nor the law of the Lord, nor a perfect law, nor is it said that any one will be judged by it, or that it is binding on Christians.

 

Eminent Authors On The Decalogue

Many of the most eminent, devout and learned men of the church have held that the decalogue was abolished, though they were far from being Antinomians.

Among these were the apostolical fathers, Luther, Calvin, Milton, Baxter, Bunyan, Doddridge, Whately, Grotius, Locke, Sherlock, Watts, Hessey, Judson, George Dana Boardman, and a host of such men. 

Justin Martyr, A. D. 140, says: “The law promulgated on Horeb is now old and belongs to yourselves (Jews) alone: but this is for all universally. Now law placed against law has abrogated that which is before it.” Dialogue with Trypho, Chap. 11. On this Elder Andrew says: “That Justin held to the abrogation of the ten commandments is also manifested.” Testimony of the Fathers, page 43.

Tertullian, A. D. 200, says: “The abolition of the ancient law we fully admit.” Against Marcian, Book 5. Chap. 2. On the law he quotes Col. 2:16, and says: “The apostle here teaches clearly how it has been abolished.” Ibid. Chap. 19.

Luther says: “The ten commandments do not apply to us Gentiles and Christians, but only to the Jews. If a preacher wishes to force you back to Moses, ask him whether you were brought by Moses out of Egypt. If he says no, then say: ‘How, then, does Moses concern me, since he speaks (in the ten words) to the people that have been brought out of Egypt.’ In the New Testament Moses comes to an end and his laws lose their force.”

Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, says: “In its individual, or what is usually called its ‘moral’ aspect, the Law bore equally the stamp of transitoriness. It seems clear enough that its formal, coercive authority as a whole, ended with the close of the Jewish dispensation.” 

Says Dr. Dobbs, Baptist says this was the teaching of the protestant reformers : “Nor is this ‘new and dangerous teaching.’ It was the doctrine of the Protestant reformers of the sixteenth century’.

Rev. George Dana Boardman, D. D., the eminent Baptist divine, in his recent book on “TheTen Commandments,” says: “Although the decalogue, in its spirit, is for all lands and ages, yet, in its letter, it was evidently for the Jews. The very preamble proves the assertion: ‘God spake all these words, saying: I am Jehovah, thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.’ Then follow the ten commandments, based on the unique fact that Jehovah was the covenant God of Israel.” Pages 127-130.

John Milton says: “With regard to the doctrine of those who consider the decalogue as a code of universal morality, I am at a loss to understand how such an opinion should ever have prevailed; these commandments being evidently nothing more than a summary of the whole Mosaic law as the fourth is of the whole ceremonial law; which therefore can contain nothing applicable to the gospel worship.” Treatise on Christian Doctrine, Vol. 1, Book 2, Chap. 7.

Adapted: Decalogue Examined by Dudley Marvin (Retrieved from: https://www.nonegw.org/canright/sdar18.htm)

Is your view on sin narrow?

RepentCross

If your understanding of sin is narrow, then your understanding of God’s law, His grace, and your love for others will also be narrow.

Here’s the truth about the gravity our sin condition, the high standard of His law, the unfathomable depth of His grace and Christ’s sacrifice.

God’s definition of sin is broad

  • Everything that is not from faith is sin’ (Romans 14:23)
  • Turning away from God through unbelief is sin (Hebrews 3:12)
  • Not doing what you know is right is sin (James 4:17)
  • Doing wrong without knowing is sin (Leviticus 5:17)

Breaking God’s commandments is sin (1 John 3:4)

  • God’s commandments are not just the ten commandments, but all the moral commands stated in the Bible
  • The Rich Young Ruler thought he kept all the commandments of God, but Jesus said it wasn’t ‘complete’ because he did not care for the poor according to his financial ability (Matt. 19). Taking care of the poor is a moral command
  • The story of the rich young ruler shows the impossibility of earning one’s salvation by following a list of commandments (Mark 10:26)
  • James 2:9 states if you show favoritism or discriminate anyone, you have broken all the commandments

Even our human nature is sinful from birth

‘See, I was born in sin and was in sin from my very beginning’ (Psalms 51:5). Our sinful human nature can produce only one thing naturally. Sin! That’s why we need to be born again. More on this later

We cannot view sin as merely a list of dos and don’ts

  • Since, everything that is not from faith is sin, every action and attitude that we do without faith in God’s promises is sin
  • Therefore, we cannot view sin as merely a list of dos and don’ts
  • One of Satan’s most successful lies is that sin can be limited to a manageable list of dos and don’ts
  • This is so satanic and dangerous because it causes thousands of christians to think that things are OK between them and God because they avoid one list of don’ts and practice another (much shorter) list of do’s (ex: church going, returning offerings, not committing murder literally etc); but in fact may be sinning all day long

God’s standard of law is so high; no fallen man can measure up to it always

  • His standard of law is so high that it is humanely impossible for any fallen man to measure up. Perhaps occasionally, but not all the time. In Greek, Romans 3:23 is actually saying ‘all have sinned and continue to fall short of God’s standard’
  • It this standard of law that we have broken, are guilty of, condemned for, and deserving death (Romans 6:23)

His standard of love towards others is also high

  • A lawyer asked Jesus, what must I do to inherit life (Luke 10:25). Then Jesus recited the story of the good Samaritan. The lesson from the story was you must show perfect love to your neighbour, wherever, or whoever they may be all the time. This is humanly impossible to do all the time.
  • This parable teaches once again the impossibility of earning one’s salvation. The standard, which is perfect love, is too high; you can’t manufacture such God kind of love.

Narrow view of sin leads some to believe they can ‘do’ the law and inherit life

  • Because some have a narrow view of sin, and law, they like the rich young ruler, pharisees and that lawyer still think that they can DO the law to inherit eternal life
  • Only way to be saved by the law is to keep the law perfectly—every moment of every day for your entire life
  • “But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law” (Galatians 3:10)
  • People have a tendency to just cherry-pick a handful of things out of the law like the Sabbath (if you are a Sabbath keeper), offering giving, not stealing literally etc. But what Paul is saying, you can’t cherry-pick the law. If you’re going to earn righteousness under the law, it’s all the commandments (love others unconditionally, help the poor, don’t discriminate, every single one of them etc), and if you fail in one slightest detail ever in your life, then you are under a curse, and you are condemned.
  • If you think you can be saved by ticking a few commandments, you are in for a surprise. ‘Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:23)
  • If we don’t understand the seriousness of sin, the standard of his law, and how we don’t measure up to God’s standard, we will never understand our dangerous-sinful-hopeless-condition, why Jesus came, why He died, why we need a savior, what he accomplished by His death, and how we can walk righteously.

Because we cannot pay for our sins, God turned over our sins to Jesus

  • Sin separated us from God, and created a bridge between us and Him (Isaiah 59:2), but Jesus took away our sins on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). God punished Jesus for our sins (Isaiah 53:5), and ‘brought us back to himself through Christ’ (2 Corinthians 5:18)
  • Apart from Christ we are separated from God, condemned, lost. But ‘Christ united us with God‘ (Eph 2:6). We were united with God the moment we repented for our sins, trusted Jesus that He was punished for our sins, our death, our law breaking, and believed that His sacrifice is sufficient to save us.
  • When we repented, our sins were completely forgiven. ‘There is now no condemnation for them that belong to Jesus’ (Rom 8:1). The law no more condemns us because it already condemned someone else: Jesus. ‘You are complete in Him’ (Col. 2:10)
  • Since we have broken God’s law, there is no way our good deeds could offset our bad deeds. ‘For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die’ (Gal 2:21). Only Jesus can save us and He did save us from the punishment by taking the punishment for our sins.

In God’s plan, we receive righteousness on the basis of faith

  • I am “found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” (Philippians 3:9).
  • We receive the righteousness of God apart from the law, meaning it doesn’t come from obeying the law. It comes from another place; it comes from Jesus Himself. It’s His righteousness.
  • God’s credits his Son’s righteous life on this earth as our righteousness by exchanging it for our sins the moment we repent, tell him we have messed up,  and confess we can’t measure up to His standard, and put our trust in Him! In that very moment, we are declared righteous in God’s presence as a gift of God’s grace (Romans 4:3). This is the good news! This is radical. This is grace. This is something only God thought up in his heart. Not man. Please don’t lower grace to your standard.

When you repented and believed in Jesus, you were born again

  • When we repented for our sins and our inability to save ourselves, and accepted Jesus as our perfect sacrifice, sin bearer, savior, Lord, He came into our life and we were born again. Jesus gave us a new birth, a new start in life. Our past is just that. Past. We can now look forward to living changed, righteous, and joy filled lives as we have Jesus living in us now.
  • ‘When we believed, we were sealed with the Holy Spirit‘ (Ephesians 1:13). This seal is the guratanee that tell us we are now God’s children, we are empowered, we have eternal life, we will inherit what God has promised us (2 Corinthians 1:22).

Without the new birth, you can’t enter the kingdom of God nor walk righteously

  • Unless one is born again, he cannot enter God’s kingdom (John 3:3).
  • We need to be born again, because when we were born into this world, we were born spiritually dead; this was the result of Adam’s fall. When they died that day eating the fruit (Genesis 2:17), they died in a real sense. Their spirit or spiritual nature died. Therefore, all Adam’s children are born into this world ‘dead’ (Eph 2:5) or with a dead ‘spirit’. They are dead to the things of God, dead to the voice of the Holy Spirit. They can’t hear God speak to them.
  • Nicodemus was a Sabbath keeper. Pharisees were Sabbath keepers. They kept a narrow list of commandments, and were satisfied that they met God’s standard. However, they were not born again. Their spirit or spiritual nature was still dead. That’s why they failed to meet the weightier matters of the law like justice, mercy, faith (Matthew 23:23), taking care of the poor, and helpless according to their financial ability. They didn’t even know they were sinning.
  • People who are not born again may keep a narrow set of laws and judge other people on external things like church going, offering giving, etc. but their hearts are far from God. They have an outward form of religion, but they have not changed from the inside out, because they were never born again.

There is more than forgiveness in God’s plan

  • When Jesus lives in us, He comes out in our actions, attitudes and affections. He empowers us to bear fruits of righteousness. He fulfills the righteousness requirement of the law in us (Romans 8:4) as His Spirit guides us.
  • The law tells us this. How messed up we are every time we look at it because it’s standard is so high (Romans 3:20). We have never kept its demand constantly, every moment, every day.
  • Those who have a narrow view of law will never see their true state from the law. The Pharisees never saw this. Therefore, they never really saw the need for a savior to take away their sins.
  • However, the Holy Spirit is our guide now, and not the law (Gal 3:25). We are ‘led by the Spirit’ (Romans 8:14). When the Spirit guides, He puts us in tune with all the moral principles of God. We become sensitive to others. We become gentle, kind, patient. We become more and more like Jesus.
  • The law may change people from the outside. But only the Spirit changes us from the inside out.
  • While the Spirit guides us, we will read and study God’s word to see if we are following all his teachings and not cherry picking a few things.
  • When you have Jesus, you have the fruit (singular) of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Notice, its not fruits, its fruit. When you have the Spirit, you have the entire basket of fruits: ‘love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law’.
  • Against such things there is no law means there is no law that can produce this fruit. There’s no legalism or external religious observances that can produce this. It’s a fruit of the Spirit.
  • If you only have one or two of the fruits, that means you were not born again! Probably you never understood how sinful you are before a Holy God, and his law! You didn’t truly repent. Therefore, you were not born again.

Conclusion:

  • If you are not trusting Christ for forgiveness and are not resting in his daily work on your behalf, then none of your actions comes from faith, but every one of them (even the most noble) is sinful and an insult to the infinitely trustworthy God.
  • Here’s the good news: Jesus took away your sins, and gave you new life. He died your death. His death wasn’t just a demonstration of love or death of a martyr. He died in your place so that he can take you home.
  • Following Jesus is not following a set of narrow laws. It is having a relationship with Him, trusting what he did on the cross, believing that His sacrifice is sufficient payment for your sins, trusting him daily to do what is right in your life, and making His word your authority for living. As you trust him, you are empowered to obey him, honour him, and live a holy life. No matter what life may throw at you, you can face it, because your future is secure in Him, and His finished work.

When you understand how high God’s standard of law is, and how sinful you are, only then can you really appreciate grace and the sacrifice of Christ.

When you receive His grace, only then can you really demonstrate the same kind of grace, love, kindness, and gentleness to others.

If you have not received Him as your Savior and the Lord of your life. Then:

  • Confess your great sin, how you haven’t measured up to his high standard and know you deserve to be condemned for insulting Him by your lack of faith, and thinking you could measure up.
  • Repent, turn to Him and believe now in Jesus, that as your Savior who died to bear you sin and punishment, so you could live forever and walk in newness of life.
  • Take him as your only hope of salvation and acknowledge him as your only Lord.
  • Thank him for his forgiveness and His promise to be with you, and in you, and to empower you to do his will.
  • Trust him to do what is right in your life.

Did you enter God’s Sabbath Rest?

Perfect-place-for-a-rest-8361

The book of Hebrews was written for Jewish Christians. It was written to show them that Jesus’s new covenant ministry (saved by trusting in Jesus) is superior to the old covenant (relying on sacrifices and rituals).

As the author talks about how everything has changed because of Jesus, the book lists certain things as much better or superior in the new covenant:

Jesus himself (Hebrews 3:1-6). New Covenant (Hebrews 8:6). New covenant law (Hebrews 7:12) Jesus’ sacrifice (Hebrews 9:23). Heavenly Temple (Hebrews 9:11). God’s promises (Hebrews 8:6). Resurrection (Hebrew 11:35). Blood atonement (Hebrews 12:24).

And then he gets on to another topic: a Sabbath. He says it this way:

“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest (Greek: Sabbatismos) for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9, New American Standard Bible).

After saying the Sabbath ‘remains’, he goes on to explain that the idea of the Sabbath (Sabbathismos) rest is now much bigger than just taking some time off each week. Now this verse doesn’t do away with the need to set aside exclusive time for worship, rest and fellowship (Hebrews 10:25).

With that in mind, here’s five things Christians need to remember about this Sabbath. These points will also show that this Sabbath is not a physical day of rest.

1. We enter this Sabbath by believing

For only we who believe can enter his rest” (Hebrews 4:3, NLT).

2. Having a day off doesn’t mean you’ve entered God’s rest

You can keep a physical day of rest and still not enter this Sabbath. Israel who were keeping the seventh-day Sabbath rest didn’t enter this Sabbath rest:

 “Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come” (Hebrews 4:8).

3. We need to rest from trying to earn salvation

You can enter this Sabbath rest when you stop trying to earn salvation by your own works. Works here does not refer to good works that a Christian does by faith, but the effort of trying to win God over by being ‘good enough’ – something nobody gets right.

For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors (own works of salvation), just as God did after creating the world” (Hebrews 4:10).

4. Rest begins today, not Sunday or Saturday

“So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today” (Hebrews 4:6, 7).

The reality is, the Sabbath is about God’s promised rest. Something we enter into fully when we get to Heaven, but we start experiencing it today.

5. This Sabbath is associated with the gospel

 “So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God” (Hebrews 4:6).

What is the gospel or good news if not salvation by trusting and believing in Jesus alone? Paul wrote:

We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us” (Romans 3:22-25).

We are declared righteous in the presence of God simply as a gift of God’s grace we receive by faith in Jesus’ finished work of salvation.

Did you know that when you gave your heart to Jesus, you entered this Sabbath rest?

“For only we who believe [in Jesus] can enter his rest” (Hebrews 4:3, NLT)

This Sabbath rest is a spiritual rest of grace, acceptance, and forgiveness we experience in Christ. It is also a rest from guilt, sin, and its penalty.

Jesus promises this Sabbath rest today for anyone who comes to Him:

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Make sure you enter God’s Sabbath rest

Some do not enter this rest for at least three reasons.

  • First, they do not know about the gospel, the spiritual Sabbath rest and what Jesus has accomplished for them.
  • Second, they do not enter this rest because they do not believe completely in Christ’s finished work and His power to save them.
  • Third, they do not “make every effort to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:11, NIV) in response to the good news, allowing Satan to challenge their trust in Jesus’ finished work and what God says about them.

What does God say about those who belong to Him? He says:

You are: Reconciled (Rom. 5:10). Dead to sin (Rom. 6:11). Freed from sin (Rom. 6:18). Released from law’s condemnation (Rom. 7:6). Conqueror through Him (Rom. 8:37). Sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13). Saved through faith (Eph. 2:8). The dwelling of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:22). Chosen in Christ (Eph. 1:4). Qualified to share in the inheritance (Col. 1:12). Transferred to His kingdom (CoI. 1:13). Chosen to be like Christ (Rom. 8:29).

You have: the living presence of Christ in you (Phil. 2:13). A Helper to encourage you (Rom. 8:26).

You: serve in the newness of the Spirit, not in the oldness of the letter (Rom. 7:6). Received a spiritual gift (1 Cor. 12).