Another Question About the Sabbath
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I have been reading some stuff on your website and I really like your biblical approach. I am a Seventh-day Adventist, but I know I am saved completely by Grace through faith in Jesus Christ the Son of the living God. I understand that there is nothing that we do that saves us. Salvation is God’s work. And I agree with almost all of what you said about the Sabbath. It was just the last bit about commandment keepers and the gospel not going together. I just can’t get my head past Revelation 12:17 and 14:12. It seems to me that the language used here identifies Gods people at the end of time being “those who keep the commandments of God and the Testimony of Jesus”. I am sincerely looking for answers concerning this so if you could please respond I would greatly appreciate it.
Thanks for writing and for your thoughtful question. I guess I should have defined my terms more carefully! When I referred to “commandment keeping” I meant in an Old Testament legalistic sense. I can readily understand your question, arising from an environment where keeping the commandments is identified with Sabbath observance.
It is not that the old testament commandments were done away with but rather that they were fulfilled by and in Christ. He met the righteous demands of the law and also fulfilled its types. The written code that was against us was nailed to the cross — canceled (Colossians 2:14). This includes the Sabbath (verse 16-17). In Ephesians 2:8-15 sets forth the glorious truth of salvation by grace through faith UNTO good works, then immediately launches into the fact that Christ abolished “the law with its commandments and regulations.” Clearly the works of verse 10 do not include those abolished in verse 15.
Does this mean we are free to do as we please? Of course not! It means that righteousness in both a legal and a practical sense comes about another way. As Paul said in Romans 8:4, “In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” Those who live according to the Spirit will be honest, God-fearing, etc. In fact they will exceed the righteousness of the law since their righteousness will be from the heart and not merely an external observance. Matt. 5:20.The type of the Sabbath is fulfilled in those who “rest” from their work as they come to heart faith in Christ for salvation. Heb. 4:1-10.
But what does the Lord mean in those verses in Revelation? Is He referring to the commandments from the law? No. He is referring to the things commanded in the New Testament. These include many things recorded in the epistles and they represent the practical outworking of true salvation. The very heart of the whole matter, however, is “Love one another.” John 13:34 and many other places. Romans 13:8-10 concludes with “love is the fulfilling of the law.” Galatians 5:14 says essentially the same thing.
The book of 1 John includes many instructions referred to as “commands” or “commandments” depending on the translation. Again, the most important one is “love.” Another specific one is to “believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ” 1 John 3:23. None of the commands in 1 John have anything to do with observing a day.
God’s purpose is revealed in a number of places but none more clearly than Romans 8:29 where we are “predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son....” God’s “commands” to us have everything to do with the fulfilling of that purpose.
When you look at the overall pattern, the law fulfilled in Christ, the commandments nailed to the cross, righteousness by faith, God’s purpose, the nature of the commands given in the New Testament, the total lack of a command to observe the Sabbath, AND the pretty clear scriptures that seem to preclude it as a command (Romans 14:5-6, Colossians 2:16-23, for instance), Sabbath-keeping seems to have nothing to do with the gospel. I should add that I am not one that believes that Sunday is the Sabbath. It does appear that Christians met on Sunday fairly early in church history but it does not follow that this indicates that Sunday is to be “observed” as the Sabbath was to be observed under the law. Again — Romans 14:5-6. Paul certainly didn’t teach a “Sunday Sabbath.” We should be serving the Lord seven days a week anyway!
Perhaps these thoughts will give you something to think — and pray — about. Look to the Lord. He will lead you aright.
Your brother in Christ,