I am convinced that one would have to approach the scriptures with a mindset of Sabbath-keeping in order to arrive at the conclusions and interpretations that are set forth in these studies. If a man was taught the gospel of free grace in JESUS CHRIST without the injection of the legalistic mindset of “reformation theology” he would never arrive at these conclusions. An honest and straightforward reading of the new testament without this preconceived mindset would in no way allow a man to conclude that Hebrews 4:9 meant that he should observe a particular day of the week as a holy day before GOD. One has to be a spiritual contortionist to build this case not to mention the references of the “first day of the week” as meaning a Sabbath. Such reasoning must be placed in the hands of those whose “much learning” has made them mad. Then the willing disciples of those “teachers of the law” which seem to have no true understanding of the law or what they affirm come along parroting their legalism as some actual high form of freedom.
I would like to discuss the practice of Sabbath keeping with you on a practical basis according to your experience rather than the philosophical aspects of it which are propounded by others. It might be helpful for you to know that I am not ignorant of the Sabbath-keeping mindset. When I first became exposed to the gospel of free grace I devoured the writings of the puritans and other reformed type people such as John Murray, Dabney, Arthur Pink, Walter Chantry, etc. I was a subscriber to the Banner of Truth and several other “high brow” publications. I was thoroughly indoctrinated into the “moral law” teaching and actually believed it to be part and parcel of gospel preaching. As time went on and the LORD revealed to me more and more of the corruption of my own heart and the inability of the flesh to keep the law of GOD in any sense this very teaching became a ball and chain around my neck. I knew I should keep the Sabbath (for instance) but found that all of my attempts ultimately resulted in religiosity and disdain for those who did not “keep” it according to my own definition of what was proper. One of the things that I observed among the “Sabbath keepers” that I was acquainted with is that each had his own parameters that defined a “proper” keeping of it and woe be to those who thought to exercise any sort of liberty of conscience in these matters. I have known of some “keepers” who have actually refrained from attending the meetings of GOD’s saints together because they would have to drive “too far” to do so and would therefore violate certain strictures. Others told their children they could go out and swing on the swing set as long as they sang hymns and did not drag their feet in the sand. Now these are no doubt aberrations upon what you consider to be a proper keeping of “the” day but they demonstrate the deathly nature of a legalistic mindset in my opinion.
Man in his fleshly and “religious” nature delights in a “law principle”. He likes being told that performing a certain activity while avoiding another can somehow make him pleasing in GOD’s sight. Even the truly regenerate sons of GOD are not immune to this influence and all manner of religiosity can be stirred up in them as they willingly imbibe teaching that fans these flames. The man who has become convinced by the SPIRIT of GOD of his innate religious corruption can only come to view his own inability to keep the law and see that all of his law keeping is performed by HIS REDEEMER who has fulfilled it in its jot and tittle. The question of “keeping” the “moral law” (I use this phrase only because others use it, not because I believe there is any such thing outside of JESUS CHRIST) always ultimately centers on “keeping the Sabbath”. Because it is understood that the “keeping” of all of the other commandments must ultimately be done “spiritually” and the keeping of them may be done without observation of the flesh. In other words we could observe a man committing adultery or robbing a bank and know him to be a lawbreaker but we cannot see him look upon a woman with lust in his heart or a having a covetous desire to steal another mans possession. Yet we are convinced that to do so according to the LORD is to violate the law. So along comes “Sabbath keeping” as something which is totally observable and a basis upon which a man can be seen to be righteous. There can be no equivocation on this according to the sabbatarians, they must have something they can see. There can be no “Sabbath keeping” in the heart, it must be done with observable activity (or non-activity as the case may be.)
All of the discussions I have ever had with “law keepers” has always ultimately come around to the matter of “Sabbath keeping”. I almost feel sometimes that some of them feel that a being a good “Sabbath keeper” more or less offsets ones inability to keep the more subtle qualities of the “law”. To fail in any part of the law is to fail completely so it baffles me how that anyone can consider themselves a “law keeper” especially of the “moral law”.
The amazing aspect of “law keeping” is that until a man is convinced of his own inability to keep the “law” can he ever have a true respect unto it, as long as he sees it as something he “should” keep or “does” keep he is still in darkness as to the high and holy nature of its precepts not to mention being still bound by its principle. The truth of the matter boils down to this, the sons of GOD are made new creatures with a mindset and desire to please the LORD in all that they do. The principle of the “Spirit of life in CHRIST JESUS” alone can set a man free from the principle of “sin and death” which is do this and live. As long as a man only sees obedience to CHRIST as a “moral duty” that man is acting under a principle of law. When a man is made a new creature he serves the LORD not out of “moral duty” but because he desires to. My flesh tells me to look upon women as objects of lust but the SPIRIT of life in CHRIST JESUS causes me to war against that and brings me to repent of my bent towards that which is not pleasing in HIS sight. I don’t have to read the “ten commandments” each time I pass the bank in order for me not to run through the door with a gun in my hand and commit robbery. The LORD works in us both to will and to do of HIS good pleasure and the life which we now live in the flesh we live by the faith OF the SON of GOD. If a man’s heart has not been changed by the new birth he cannot ultimately be subdued by the “moral law” and if he is born again he does not need the motivation of “law duty” in order for him to walk according to that for which he is ordained.
Well written and on point! In the 1st Century Christians were stepping into hot water when mingling Jew and Gentile and it’s clear Sabbath Keepers existed amongst the Jewish Christians and as evidenced by Romans 14 this was addressed in Jerusalem. This issue hits home for me due to interactions with loved ones in my family. As far as I’m concerned and what the Bible tells me each Christians has to be convinced in His own mind and have a balance of thoughts over the matter. In Hebrews 4 we entered His rest through Christ who fullfilled the law in all aspects. If I trust in the keeping of the law my faith is weak which in itself tells me the value is in my works contributing to me salvation. I would be resting in keeping the law in unison with following Christ except I’ll have to omit “It is finished” from Christ’s last words on the cross.