Monday, August 1, 2011

I Agree with Seventh-day Sabbatarians

I agree with seventh-day (Saturday) sabbatarians, at least on a number of basic points. This may come as a shocking statement to those who know I believe the weekly Sabbath day was a shadow pointing to Christ, that Jesus fulfilled the shadow, and that the substance or reality is now found only in Him. So obviously I have some marked disagreement with those who believe observance of the Old Covenant shadow is still a requirement for New Covenant Christians. Having said that, there are at least nine points I have identified where I think seventh-day sabbatarians and I can agree. Oh sure, we would still have significant disagreement on various details related to these points, but at a bare minimum I think we could agree in principle upon the most basic thoughts expressed below. See if you agree:

  1. Obedience and holiness are not optional for the Christian, but are a normative expectation of the Christian life.
  2. Grace is never a license to sin.
  3. Teaching and following what God has commanded us is not legalism.
  4. Sunday is not the Sabbath and there is no biblical command to transfer the 4th command of the Decalogue to any other day.
  5. The Sabbath of the Decalogue is not merely a principle of keeping one day in seven, but rather specifies one very specific day, the seventh-day (Saturday).
  6. Sabbath-keeping on the seventh-day was not optional for Israel, but was commanded them and was a sign of obedience and holiness.
  7. If keeping the Sabbath day of the Decalogue is commanded to Christians, then neither the day or the practice is optional and should not be considered legalism, but a normative part of the Christian life and a sign of obedience and holiness.
  8. At least some of the things commanded to Israel are not commanded to New Covenant Christians and should not be considered normative or signs of obedience (examples might include animal sacrifices, annual Sabbath festivals, and monthly new moon Sabbaths).
  9. Christians should biblicaly answer the question of whether or not New Covenant believers are commanded to keep a Sabbath day, then live  according to God’s teaching to the Church on this matter.
Number nine really gets to the heart of the matter. If Christians are commanded to keep the seventh-day Sabbath, then we should certainly being doing so. Period. I agree with Sabbatarians on that.  All too often though, our conversations and debates don’t really focus on this most crucial question. Rather we tend to get caught up going back and forth about points that we all already agree on. So we spend a lot of time talking about obedience when we all already agree that obedience is not optional. Or we spend a lot of time looking at texts commanding Israel to keep the Sabbath when we already agree on that point and also would all admit that not everything commanded to Israel is commanded to Christians. Arguing about things we agree on is really a waste of time and energy. We don’t spend nearly enough time looking at the specific instructions (plural) given by God to the Church regarding holy days and the New Covenant. This issue came up in the early Church and the Holy Spirit addressed it in God’s Word. We don’t have to guess what we as New Covenant Christians are taught about this, we merely need to read and accept the instruction we’re given. To be truly productive, that’s where our discussions should be centered and not on those things we already agree with.

Look, if I am misunderstanding the instruction that God gave to the fledgling Church on this matter, then I want to know and I want to change my practice accordingly. I really mean it!  unfortunately, I’ve found most of my friends and family are more comfortable going back over (and over) the first eight points listed. I hope that someday we’ll be able to really biblically address the ninth point. We all agree that we need to know what the Bible has to say to New Covenant Christians on this matter, so why don’t we focus on the specific teaching given to the New Covenant Church on this matter? Until then, can we at least agree to agree on that with which we agree?