A Few More Thoughts About Sabbath Keeping
“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”
Here are six statements that need to be thoughtfully and prayerfully considered. Do not embrace them and do not reject them until you have at least thoughtfully considered them for yourself in the light of Holy Scripture alone.
1. We observe the sabbath of faith, a spiritual sabbath rest in Christ. The Old Testament sabbath was a portrayal of faith in Christ. Like all legal ceremonies, it served no other purpose than to point sinners to Christ. As God ceased from his works on the first sabbath (Genesis 2:1-3), and demanded that the Jews cease from all works in the legal sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11), so sinners, when they trust Christ, cease trying to work their way into God’s favor (Matthew 11:28-30; Romans 3:28; Hebrews 4:10).
2. We live in the hope and anticipation of a glorious, eternal sabbath rest with Christ. “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9-11).
3. We gather in the house of God and worship on the Lord’s day, and encourage all believers to do the same. Yet, we apply no sabbatical laws to the Lord’s day, and make no effort to coerce anyone to join us in the worship of our God, except by the coercion of the gospel.
4. However, there is absolutely no sense in which we keep a legal sabbath day in this age of grace.
Why are we so insistent and dogmatic about this?
Because Christ, who is the Lord of the sabbath, is Christ our Sabbath.
For us to go back to keeping a sabbath day, as the Jews did in the Old Testament, or for us to put on the yoke of legal religion, is to say that Christ fulfilled nothing!
Legalism is, in its essence, a denial of Christ’s finished work as the sinner’s Substitute. That was the reason for Paul’s strong denunciation of Peter’s behavior at Antioch.
5. Christ is the end of the law (Romans 10:4). That statement by Paul means exactly what it appears on the surface to mean. It matters not whether you read it in Greek, English, Spanish, French, or Chinese. When the Holy Spirit says, “Christ is the end of the law,” he means for us to understand that our Lord Jesus Christ is…
· The Fulfillment of the Law.
· The Satisfaction of the Law.
· The Purpose for which the Law was Given.
· The Termination of the Law.
If you can find me any place in human language where the word end does not mean end, I will eat my dictionary and my Bible too. If the law is fulfilled, satisfied, and its purpose accomplished in and by Christ, then it finds its termination in Christ.
6. The New Testament expressly forbids sabbath observance by believers. Not only is there no instruction on how believers should keep the sabbath in this gospel age, the practice is specifically forbidden (Colossians 2:16-17).
By D. Fortner