I’m writing this post in response to comments on my Sabbath post. The understanding of the issues raised by these comments is key to the understanding of grace and the understanding of the gospel itself.
I wrote my post on the Sabbath based on a question raised in my Sunday school class. The question was whether or not we were forsaking God’s law in preference of worldly traditions by worshipping on Sunday instead of Saturday.
I started writing my post unsure of where it would end up. I know we are free from the law based on Paul’s teachings, especially in Romans and Galatians. However, I also know that keeping the Sabbath (as in Saturday) separate and dedicated to God is part of the 10 commandments. If we throw out the Sabbath, do we have to throw out the other nine?
I came to the conclusion that as Christians saved by grace that we are not bound to a Saturday Sabbath. You can read my post to see how I came to that conclusion. I’m by no means a biblical scholar so I may not have laid out my points as well as I should have.
In any case, I stand by this conclusion and I will attempt to address the opposing comments and perhaps strengthen my position as well.
My final conclusion in my Sabbath post is as follows:
It is clear that God set aside a day of rest as a holy day. It is clear that God wants us to meet together and honor him and to delight in doing so, putting honoring God above our own pleasures and business. This is not a “law” that brings salvation but an act of obedience as we live and walk in the Spirit and seek those things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (Gal 5:16-25, Col 3:1-11)
If your church meets on Saturday, then set aside your busy life (rest) that day as your holy day to honor God and if on Sunday then set aside your busy life on Sunday to be your holy day to honor God. The point is - put aside your busy life to honor God, delight in this day and delight in the Lord.
There were stated objection to two specific points I made in my post. I’ll address these issues. However, while these points helped me draw my conclusion, I could throw these out and still stand by my final analysis.
I made the comment that it appeared that from the earliest church tradition that the first century Christians met on Sundays. I referenced Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 16:1-2 and Rev 1:10. The opposing comment stated:
This is not supported by the verses you cite. The day of the Lord is established as Sabbath and Isaiah confirms it in Isaiah 58.
I agree that Isaiah is referring to the Sabbath as the day of the Lord. The Sabbath was the Lord’s Day under the old covenant. My point was that the early church began referring to Sunday as the Lord’s Day. While the verses I list above are not conclusive in themselves, they do lend biblical support to the historical reality that the early church recognized that the first day of the week was the Lord’s Day.
But every Lord's Day, gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. - Didache 14, ANF 7.381 (c. 90 AD)
We have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's Day. - Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Magnesians 9, ANF 1.62 (c. 105 AD)
But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God ... made the world. And Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead on that same day. - Justin Martyr, First Apology, ANF 1.186 (c. 160)
I do not want to over debate this point. I concede that if one believes the church has been corrupt since 100 AD then what was practiced by the church at that time will not matter to one’s point of view.
The second point that was challenged was where I stated that the Bible never mentions that anyone other than Israel should observe the Sabbath. I said that in fact, Paul goes out of his way to insist that we are free from law given to Israel and specifically mentions the Sabbath in Colossians 2:16.
The disagreeing comment is as follows:
Paul was a Torah observant, Torah teacher, as commanded by Yeshua in Matthew 5!
Also the statement that the Bible never says that the law or sabbath was
for anyone but Israel. You are mistaken not knowing the Scripture. Torah is
clear that there is "one law" for everyone. And specifically of Sabbath is
This is speaking of Messiah and the
gentile inclusion and their keeping of the Sabbath.
I disagree that Isaiah is specifically speaking of Jesus. Isaiah is speaking to Israel on the importance of them keeping the Sabbath and any foreigner that wishes to join them must do the same.
The real case to be made about is that we are free from the law. There is nothing we can do that will save us, including recognizing the Sabbath as Saturday. Nor is there anything that we have to add to the grace of God to be saved, including recognizing Saturday as the Sabbath.
Paul wrote extensively on the subject of being free from the law. I’m going to pull out just a few verses; however I believe my point is true to the context.
Romans 7:6 (ESV)
6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.
Romans 10:5-10 (ESV)
5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.
6 But the righteousness based on faith says, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?' " (that is, to bring Christ down)
7 or " 'Who will descend into the abyss?' " (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
Galatians 2:15-16 (ESV)
15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners;
16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
Galatians 5:1-3 (ESV)
1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you.
3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law.
In Romans, Paul basically lays out the complete Christian doctrine. He goes into great lengths to explain that we are free from the law but how that does not give us a license for lawlessness. He quotes Deuteronomy in verse 10:8 that the law is now written on our hearts. In Romans and his other letters, he speaks that now we live by the Spirit which is opposed to living by the flesh (sin).
In Galatians, Paul is speaking specifically to Christian Jews coming to the churches in Galatia and trying to convince them that they are not really saved unless they embrace the old covenant law, in addition to the saving faith in Christ.
Paul cannot be clearer in Galatians that we are not to bind ourselves to the law of the old covenant and that anyone teaching this is teaching a false gospel.
Galatians 1:6-9 (ESV)
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—
7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
Galatians 3:1 (ESV)
1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.
What is the gospel that Paul is referring to? The gospel is Romans 10:9 - because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
I have one last point in reference to the opposing comment. Matthew 5 is used to support the argument that we are still under the law.
That's why Yeshua said, "Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the
prophets." HE said, in essence, "Don't even think this!" So why have we thought
it and why have we taught it. HE goes on to say that the greatest in the kingdom
are those who do and teach the Law - Torah.
The comment goes on to encourage all to read the bible in its entire context. I whole-heartedly agree and freely admit that sometimes I am not true to this. In this instance I think we if take all of Matthew 5 into context, Jesus is fully supporting that the law cannot save you.
In Matthew 5-7, Jesus ratchets up the true meaning of the law to the point it is clear, that no man can live according to the law and succeed.
The specific versus mentioned above are Matthew 5:17-20. Jesus said he did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. He then goes on to say that those under the law (the law had not yet been fulfilled until Jesus’ death and resurrection) must exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
This is an impossible task, the Pharisees were the experts and teachers of the law and Jesus was even explaining the laws to make them even tougher to truly follow. How can we exceed the righteousness of the teachers of the law? By receiving the righteousness of Christ through confessing that Jesus is Lord and believing that he died for our sins and rose again. Christ has fulfilled the law so that we may be saved from it’s judgment.
Freedom from the law does not mean freedom to sin as we wish and freedom from obedience to Jesus our Lord. Paul, in his teaching explaining our freedom from the law is clear that we are new creatures that live by the Spirit, leaving our sinful flesh natures a dead.
This is why. I make my final point in my Sabbath post, that as Christians, we should honor God with a Sabbath rest dedicated to him and gather to worship Him on this day with other believers. If we obey God’s Spirit in our hearts and seek him we can’t come to any other conclusion.
Grace has not replaced the Ten Commandments. Grace has written on our hearts the greatest commandments, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:36-40, Deut 6:5-6). All the other commandments follow from these.