- Claim: Christians are free not to keep the Sabbath
- Author: Jesse
- Written: 5 years ago
- Category: Other
- Answers: 0
Christians are free not to keep the Sabbath
Nancy Sleeth recently wrote an article about the Sabbath being the most ignored commandment. The article begins with these two short paragraphs:
"A recent poll of 2,000 pastors in North Carolina revealed that less than 10 percent are keeping a regular Sabbath."
"Think about this for a moment. If 90 percent of pastors announced from the pulpit that murder (or stealing, or adultery) is OK, don’t you think it might raise a few eyebrows in the pews, let alone the press?"1
If you think about the rest of the commandments, they would probably raise the eyebrows too if a pastor announced that they are OK to break.
"It's ok to make a few idols to keep at your home" or "You don't need to honor your parents" would both provoke any discerning listener to yell "Come down from the pulpit ye heretic!"
But why is it that most people would probably sit silent in the pew if a pastor announced that the Sabbath is no longer required to keep?
The short answer is that we are not under the law. The law does not simply mean the ritual laws, but it is the whole law we find in the first 5 books of the Bible sometimes called the Pentateuch.
So how does this not mean that we could also murder people then?
I would argue that it is not only because of the law that we know we should not murder anyone, but because of the indwelling Spirit who leads every true child of God (Romans 8:14).
In other words, we are led by the Spirit, and not by the letter of the law. And the spirit does not lead us into keeping the Sabbath. Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man and that man was not made for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27), meaning that it is a day of rest provided for man, and so it is not something that needs to be observed today in a legalistic way, making sure we are resting the right way and the right day.
In the website gotquestions.org there is a good article about keeping the Sabbath2. The writer helpfully shows that the Sabbath was never intended to be a day of worship. It was meant to be kept holy, but it was nothing more than a day of rest. A day when everyone had to have a pause from their work. Misunderstanding this has produced debate between the Seventh-day Adventists and other Christian groups, about whether the day of worship should be on the Saturday or on the Sunday.
The Sunday service comes from the fact that Jesus rose from the dead in the first day of the week, and that was when the disciples remembered Christ's death by breaking bread (Acts 20:7). It has nothing to do with the Sabbath. The Jews gathered in the synagogues on Saturdays, but that was nowhere commanded in Scriptures, and it certainly isn't something the Christians need to be doing.
So there should be a distinction made between the day of worship and the day of rest. The day of worship is every day (Acts 2:46-47), and the day of rest, according to the law, is the Sabbath.
Colossians 2:16-17 makes it clear that all the festivals of the Jewish law, and even the Sabbath day, were all things foreshadowing Christ. Christ is what the Old Testament spoke about in prophecies, images and types. After Christ came, we are no longer required to observe those festivals, because In Christ we have, not the shadow, but the real thing!
In other words, We are keeping the Sabbath, if we have accepted Christ's invitation: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."(Matthew 11:28) In Christ we have our Sabbath. The true rest.
Those who insist that the sabbath should be kept, should make sure they are themselves keeping the Sabbath by accepting the rest that the Sabbath has foreshadowed!
Everything I said does not mean that it is not good to have a day of rest, or that keeping the Sabbath is bad. Man needs rest, and it is good not to work every day of the week. It is also good to set aside a day or two and make them be a special time with the Lord. But it is bad to lay burdens on Christians, which God had never intended to lay on them.
Whether we keep the Sabbath or do not, let us not judge one another. As Paul said in Romans 14:5, some will esteem some days as better than others, but others will esteem them all alike. Some will think the Saturday is a special day, and others will think Sunday is better. Some will think they both are just like all the other days. Let us not allow anyone enslave us by rules that Christ has set us free from (Gal. 5:1).