Question: Does God require Sabbath-keeping of Christians?

Question: Does God require Sabbath-keeping of Christians?

Of the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:1-17), the Sabbath is one that New Testament believers are generally unconcerned or uncompromising. Are Christians to observe the Sabbath?

Israel as the only theocratic nation was slapped with an exhaustive law that included Sabbath observance. Israel as God’s covenant people thus differs from others bereft of such demands then or now. Incidentally, neither were the antediluvians or the Patriarchs advised on Sabbath-keeping. What then of Christianity that, in being an offshoot of Judaism, defined the Messianic believer as a spiritual entity distinct from the nation of Israel, meaning to say that the Church never replaced the nation as its successor.

And as the Messianic faith drew an influx of Gentile converts, the Jerusalem Council that convened around 50 AD decreed a simpler way for Gentile Christians to live in lieu of the Law. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well (Acts 15:27-29).

Because Sabbath-keeping is one of the 613 Laws of the OT, for a believer to revert to the Law is to effect a fall from grace to legalism. Paul, once a religious bigot, was so grieved by this retrogression, or ‘backsliding’ if you will, that he declared those ‘foolish Galatians’ accursed (anathema) that is to be damned! Why was Paul so irate? Paul in guarding his flock discerned that a blend of law and grace brewed a different gospel that bent the salvation message of Christ Jesus which is God‘s gracious gift to whom He wills without any human merit.

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed…

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace… As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves! (Gal 1:6-9; 5:1-5:12)

Make no mistake, even though Christ Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath – because He is God (Mk 2:23-28) that ‘No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?” ‘(Dan 4:35) – the New Testament believer has the freedom in Christ that makes neither the Sabbath (Saturday) nor the Lord’s day (Sunday) binding or any more religious.

One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it..(Rom 14:5-1). 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 (Col 2:16, 17).

So with 613 Laws of the Old Testament beckoning, are Christians to keep the Sabbath? For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all (Jam 2:10).

L.S. James

16 Sep 2014

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