The real Sabbath truth

One of the most divisive issues in Christianity is that of Sabbatarianism. Now while worshipping/resting on the Sabbath day is no sin, and while the motivation of many who practice this may be commendable, many make the error of declaring Sabbatarianism an absolute requirement of Christianity, which invariably leads to denouncing non-Sabbatarians as pagans, false Christians, and so on.

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While Messianics will tout Sabbatarianism by upholding the full Law of Moses, a non-Messianic Gentile Sabbatarian will typically appeal to the “Ministration of death,” better known as the 10 Commandments, declare them as a covenant of Law that must still be observed as written, and then hold that anyone who does not keep the Sabbath has rejected God’s commandments and thus chosen damnation over eternal life.

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The truth, of course, is that Christianity has not fallen prey to heresy and paganism on this issue, and that Christians are not required to keep the Jewish Sabbath!

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To show that, we will see what both the Old and New Testaments teach on the subject of what the Sabbath represents, and just whom must keep it.

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First, we must determine if God said that Sabbath observance was mandated for everyone, throughout all time, or whether it was for a particular group, under a particular covenant, in one particular epoch of time.

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The Sabbatarian will go to Genesis 2:3 for his doctrine, and declare that God established a commandment to keep the Sabbath right then and there, from the Garden of Eden.

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But did He?

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But he text does not say that at all, and not one verse of Scripture explicitly states that God, at that point, commanded Sabbath observance and mandated rest consistent with what the Law later outlined. The only “commandment” (if one must use that word) Scripture actually says God gave Adam and Eve was not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, something a Sabbatarian will actually admit if you catch him off guard before he has a chance to realize he’s about to trap himself, and thus must throw in a second commandment. Yet Scripture shows God gave but one commandment and did not add to it, “And be sure to keep the Sabbath, not doing this, and not doing that!”

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Meanwhile, chapter 4 of the Epistle to the Hebrews reveals the entire point of the Sabbath and the 7th day was to prefigure the ultimate rest that would come in Christ, a rest that comes through believing, and not by simply refraining from activities one day per week:

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For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.

--Heb. 4:3-4.

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So far as the Bible is concerned, the first actual verse where God did explicitly command Sabbath-keeping, is actually found, thousands of years after Adam and Eve, in Exodus 16:23...

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And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.

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…And Exodus 31:14-17.

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Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.

It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.

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Later, the commandment was repeated in Deut. 5:15, where it was again shown to have been given only to the Jews:

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And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day.

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Later on, Nehemiah affirms that the Sabbath--as a mandatory rest day--was revealed through Moses:

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Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments:

And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant:

--Nehemiah 9:13-14.

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God also spoke to Ezekiel and indicated the Sabbath was given to and for the Jews in Moses’ time:

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Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness.

And I gave them my statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them.

Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.

--Ez. 20:10-12.

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So the question is answered right there. God did not say, “I’ve always commanded the Sabbath be kept.” He clearly indicated that He instituted Sabbath observance and a mandatory rest because He delivered the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt, and only they were called upon to keep it, something even the Jews--who believe in perpetual Sabbatarianism--affirm!

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Meanwhile…

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Neither my ancestors, nor I, were servants in the land of Egypt.

Neither my ancestors, nor I, were delivered through the Red Sea and baptized into Moses.

Neither my ancestors, nor I, agreed to or were bound to keep the Law of Moses.

Neither my ancestors, nor I, agreed to or were bound keep the covenant from Sinai.

Thus, as a New Covenant Christian, I am not bound to keep the Jewish Sabbath.

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“But Egypt represents the world, and Jesus delivered us from the world, so we must still keep the Sabbath!”

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This lie is commonplace with Sabbatarians. Yet you will not find one verse in Scripture that says, “Egypt represents the world.” If you had to name a nation that represents “the world,” Rome--not Egypt--is the direction you should go.

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In fact, if you will go to Rev. 11:8, you will see the Bible considers Egypt not to represent the world--but the holy city of Jerusalem!

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And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

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“Just where did God say He removed the sanctification for the seventh day then?!” the Sabbatarian will demand to know.

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The answer is, He didn’t need to because He did a much greater thing: In the person and ministry of Jesus, He manifested the fullness of what the seventh day only symbolized--just as, in Christ, He manifested the fullness of what the Old Testament sacrificial system foretold. Christ is now our Sabbath rest--and now that we have full knowledge of that, we are no longer bound to keep the old prophetic types and shadows of that rest by cessation from all work on Saturdays, and stoning or cutting off from the Community those who fail to uphold the extremely high standard of rest God required for the day!

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Not everyone in the days of the apostles could grasp that. There would always be some Romans 14 babes, “weak in the faith,” who would continue to observe the rituals and Sabbaths of the Law as commandments, rather than as a non-mandatory tribute to culture and tradition.

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Those brethren, in that time, were not to be condemned by those “strong” in the faith (Romans 14:3, 5), who had full knowledge of the New covenant--but neither were the “weak” to criticize them!

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But today is not then. Today we have had almost 2000 years for Christianity to walk in the Gospel through a fully developed canon of Scripture. Today there is no excuse for someone claiming to be a Christian to call fellow Christians into mandatory Sabbatarianism or adherence to the Jewish Law, and denounce those who do not follow as pagans.

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It is the Sabbatarian of today who condemns himself out of his own mouth by attempting to impose the requirements of the Law on those who have responded to God in faith like Abraham--a man who never heard of or kept the Sabbath commands.

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You will not find one verse in the New Testament that speaks approvingly of indoctrinating Gentile converts to the faith into Sabbatarianism. Quite the contrary. And to miss that fact, and go on to teach the Law and its Sabbath, is to substitute justification by faith for justification through obeying commandments, be they 613 or only 10.

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It is unavoidable, despite the false teacher’s attempts to claim otherwise.

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Again--look to Abraham, and compare the teaching of today’s Judaiser, be he an Adventist, Messianic, or Armstrongite, with what Scripture shows us Abraham did.

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You will not find Abraham keeping the Sabbath!

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“But Jesus said ‘the Sabbath was made for man,’ so it’s not just for the Jews--it’s for Gentiles too, and we all must keep it!” the Sabbatarian will claim. “Isaiah says that too!”

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Well, then you can certainly turn to the Old Testament, and show me God’s denouncing the Gentile nations for not keeping it, right?

“Uhh…well, it must be somewhere in there.”

It’s not. You can search Genesis to Malachai, and you won’t find one instance where God ever criticized anyone other than the Jews for not keeping a Sabbath the heretic claims was mandated for humanity from the Garden of Eden!

That’s because only the Jews were given the Law and the Sabbath commands that go with it.

Now if a Gentile joined himself to the commonwealth of Israel and accepted the covenant of the Law, then yes--he had to keep the Sabbath as Isaiah 56:6-7 shows. Then those same Gentiles could come and make animal sacrifices at the Temple--something utterly repugnant and anathema to New Testament Christianity and the New covenant we are all under now!

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Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;

Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

--Isaiah 56:6-7.

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A Sabbatarian often relies on half-truths, like quoting only verse 6 while avoiding verse 7, to promote his doctrine. Either from an intent to deceive the lazy or unlearned, or because he simply can’t perceive and think out the full implications of the verses he relies on, the fact still remains: Mandatory Sabbatarianism is a staple of the Old covenant, and is inextricably entwined with Judaism, the Temple and its animal sacrifices, and the Jewish theocracy--institutions humanity has now moved past because of the cross of Christ.

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“But Isaiah said about the Millennium, And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD! So right there, God says in the Millennial reign of Christ people will keep the Sabbath!”

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This is yet another common error many people fall into: Failing to recognize promises under the Old covenant that were superceded by better promises in the New after the Jews crucified their Messiah.

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That passage, in Isaiah 66, represents the glory that would have come under the Old covenant if the Jews had accepted Christ. We can know that by going back to chapter 56, the Sabbatarian quotes, and reading forward to note that all the promises being spoken of center around a Levitical Temple with Levitical priests functioning under the Torah and making accepted animal sacrifices on the altar to cover sin! Also, note that the passage also implies keeping New Moon Sabbaths, which the Sabbatarian usually admits are Torah Sabbaths we need not keep in the New covenant!

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But that sort of system, as the book of Hebrews notes, has been superceded by Christ and His atonement on the cross! There will be no Temple with animal sacrifices and Levitical priests when Christ rules on the earth; there will be a Melchizidekal priesthood made up of Christ and all believers:

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And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

--Rev. 21:22.

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“Well, that’s in eternity--before that, Christ will rule a thousand years as the Prince/High Priest over a Millennial Temple conducting animal sacrifice to cover ritual uncleanness, possibly atone for sin, or perhaps as just some sort of remembrance--just the way we take Communion as a remembrance today even though we are saved by His blood!”

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Wrong on all counts.

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If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.

For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,

Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.

--Heb. 7:11-16.

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Christ cannot be a High Priest over any sort of Levitical Temple because He is not a Levite--and it makes no difference that He is the Messiah! The Bible (Heb. 7 and 8:4) says He can’t! His priesthood is Melchizidekal, not Levitical. He also cannot preside over a Torah-based Temple because Melchizidek did not function under the 10 Commandments, Sabbath, or Torah any more than Abraham did, nor did Melchizidek preside over a physical temple. God makes it clear (2 Sam. 7:6) that Solomon’s Temple was the first physical temple ever erected to Him!

If this prophecy in Isaiah comes true in the future as the Sabbatarian and some people believe, the Book of Hebrews is false, and we must reject the Christian faith to hold onto the Mosaic Law and Temple system the Sabbatarian usually claims was transitory and fulfilled at the cross! We must also keep the kosher eating laws since verse 17 of chapter 66 says that those who eat pork will be consumed with the rest of the transgressors.

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Is rejecting pork in the 10 Commandments, or is it in what the Sabbatarian often holds as the “civil and ceremonial Law written on parchment, and fulfilled at the cross”?

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These are the kinds of issues Sabbatarians and cultists do not deal with in order to use half-truths to promote their false doctrines. That’s why Paul said about them:

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Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:

From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;

Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.

--1 Tim. 1:5-7.

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So no, the prophecy in Isaiah does not require a Saturday Sabbath to be fulfilled in any way, shape, or form. The entire Millennium will be a Sabbath of sorts, and people will be resting every day in Christ, and in the manifested fullness of everything the Sabbath prophesied, which is why the notion that in the Millennium we will also observe Jewish Feasts (most of which require animal sacrifice) as some sort of “remembrance” is likewise refuted. (And note that Hebrews 7 through 13 showed no respect or endorsement whatever for these Feasts continuing to be observed in the writers’ time as any sort of “remembrance”--but rather, there was an encouragement to leave them, that system, and the camp behind just as Christ did!)

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“Then just who is the Prince of the Millennial Temple if it isn’t Jesus?!”

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The better question is, “Who was planned to be the Prince of a Millennial Temple prophesied under the Old covenant that was never enacted because the people never repented and never ultimately accepted the Messiah?” Some have theorized Zerubbabel (Hag. 2:34). It certainly wasn’t Jesus because its Prince was required to make an animal sacrifice--not take the blood of Christ--to cover the sins of himself and the people (Ez. 45:22)! Thus, this Temple cannot exist during the reign of Christ or it would deny and supercede Christ’s blood atonement! This Prince was also prophesied to apparently be married and produce offspring, again excluding Christ (Ez. 46:16)!

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What some people mistakenly believe is a prophecy about a “Millennial Temple” with Jesus as its Prince that will conduct animal sacrifice, keep Jewish Feasts, and have Gentile nations come to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles was actually the ultimate prophecy about the Millennial Kingdom that would have come to pass if the Jews had repented and accepted the Messiah. Yet as we see from Malachi 3:7, the Jews never kept God’s Law, never fully or consistently repented, and the ultimate fruit of that was their leaders’ formal rejection of Christ. The result was, with the Jews’ rejection of Christ and the Old covenant, that covenant and its promises passed into history with the institution of the New covenant with its “better promises” (Heb. 8:6). Yes, there will still be a “Prince over a Millennial Temple,” but that Prince will be Jesus, and His Temple will not be some building conducting animal sacrifice under a Levitical priesthood, but it will be the temple of His own body, and the sacrifice will be His own blood offered under His Melchizidekal priesthood!

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“But Jesus kept the Sabbath, so if He kept it, so must we!” the Sabbatarian will say next.

Jesus came as a Jew “under the Law” to fulfill it perfectly, which certainly involved His keeping the Sabbath, and keeping it perfectly:

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Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets:

I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, Till all be fulfilled.

--Matt. 5:17-18.

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All the Law, down to its “jots and tittles,” was fulfilled on the cross, and the resurrection was God’s proclamation of that to mankind!

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“Well, that only means Jesus fulfilled the civil and sacrificial commandments; we must still keep the Ten Commandments’ command to keep the Sabbath, because God wrote those, and the rest came from Moses, not God,” says the Sabbatarian.

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Really?

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Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day.

--Deut. 8:11.

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And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue:

And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring:

That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.

--Num. 15:37-40.

Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.

--Mal. 4:4.

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A common Sabbatarian myth is that God only gave the 10 Commandments (Deut. 4:13), ended His commandments with that, and the rest were given only by Moses. These others, the Sabbatarian will say, were not engraved on stone, and that shows they were only transitory and would pass away, while the 10 Commandments would be eternally in place, because God gave only those 10, and no more.

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Seventh Day Adventists will even claim their so-called prophetess, Ellen White, had a vision of heaven and the tablets of the 10 Commandments--and the Sabbath commandment was glowing brighter than all the rest! Jesus Christ Himself then told her that the Sabbath commandment was not nailed to the cross, and so must still be kept!

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Compare the deception of Ellen White to the words of Christ:

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Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

--Matt: 22:36-38.

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According to White’s false vision, it is not the “first and greatest commandment” to worship God alone that stands out, but a less-important command to keep one day in seven holy!

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So far as the false teaching that the rest of the Law outside of the 10 Commandments isn’t really as binding as the 10 because it came from Moses, the truth, in opposition to the lie, is that God affirms that the whole Law--even the few parts written by Moses--was His Law, and He wanted all of it, not under 2% of it, kept! Moses delivered it, and it was “Moses’” Law in that sense, but God--and Moses--makes it clear that Moses’ Law is God’s Law.

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Yet Sabbatarians will typically claim that everything beyond the 10 main commandments was only “civil and ceremonial laws that Jesus (supposedly) fulfilled at the cross.”

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“It wasn’t kept inside the Ark of the Covenant either,” they’ll add, “so that too shows those laws not on stone were also transitory. God could have used stone, rather than paper or parchment, to write those extra laws on, but because of the permanent nature of the Ten, He wrote those in stone because they will never pass away or be fulfilled!”

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Actually, the scroll of the Law--which contained the 10 Commandments--was either inside the Ark or placed with it. But aside from that, let’s take a look at some of these supposed “transitory civil and ceremonial laws” that we supposedly no longer need to keep because they were written on paper or parchment, rather than stone:

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.And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

--Deut. 6:5.

Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.

--Lev. 19:18.

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Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

--Matt. 22: 37-40.

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Note that what Jesus calls the two most important of all the commandments aren’t even in the 10 Commandments, but are in this mythical “civil and ceremonial law Jesus fulfilled on the cross”!

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Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.

--Ex. 22:22.

Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD.

--Ex. 23:16.

Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, neither shalt thou take her son’s daughter, or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness; for they are her near kinswomen: it is wickedness.

--Lev. 18:17.

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

--Lev. 18:22.

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“Well,” groans the Sabbatarian, “some of those moral commandments like that…while they’re not really in the Ten Commandments, sort of, uh, fall under certain commandments in the Ten Commandments, so yes, they, uh, must still be kept…even though technically only the Ten Commandments still apply to us.”

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Here is where the Sabbatarian’s theology collapses. He tries to make the 10 permanent, and relegate the rest to “civil and ceremonial law fulfilled at the cross,” but key commandments he knows cannot possibly be ignored--including what Jesus called the two most important of all commandments--are right in the set of laws he claims are transitory, and God had no part in writing!

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It is a myth that the 10 Commandments exist independent from the rest of the Law. People who foolishly tout the 10 Commandments have never understood what the Law really was. The 10 were capstones to the entire 613, and all those supposed “civil and ceremonial laws” fell under various commands in the 10, and were every bit as binding on the people under the Law as “Thou shalt not kill” was!

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To sever the 10 from the other 603 is to cut the head off a man, and suppose he will still be perfectly fine.

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This is why Paul, while affirming them to be “holy, just and good,” still declares the 10 Commandments--and the Law that went with them--to be:

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That which causes sin to have dominion over us (Rom. 6:14).

That which we are not under (Rom. 6:14).

That which we are dead to (Rom. 7:4).

That from which we are delivered (Rom. 7:6).

That which wrought in Paul all manner of concupiscence (Rom. 7:8).

That which revived sin in Paul (Rom. 7:9).

That which wound up working death in Paul (Rom. 7:13).

The strength of sin (1 Cor. 15:56).

The ministration of death, written and engraven in stones (2 Cor. 3:7).

The ministration of condemnation (2 Cor. 3:9).

That which is done away (2 Cor. 3:11).

That which is “abolished.” (2 Cor. 3:13).

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Now at this point, everyone from the modern-day Pharisee, to the typical Christian who does not understand the Gospel of Grace, will reply with the following statement:

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“So you think it’s okay to steal, kill, and commit adultery?!”

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Paul answers that question in Romans 6:15, and this topic is covered more in the articles: Abraham--our paradigm for justification--who never kept the Sabbath or Law, and Where no law is, there is no transgression.

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For now, this article will focus on the Sabbath issue.

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Galatians and the Sabbath

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Paul’s first written work was the epistle to the Galatians, in which he had to write and rebuke the new believers for incorporating Jewish Law and circumcision into their walk with Christ.

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The issue arose because conservative Jewish Christians had come to central Turkey after Paul, instructing the Gentile believers that they must convert to Judaism to be saved, starting with the act of circumcision. As Torah-observant Jews, they naturally also indoctrinated the converts into the most critical observance in Judaism, the Sabbath.

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After taking three chapters to remind the Galatians of the first Gospel of Grace they had received, and then denouncing the mixing of Jewish Law with that Gospel, Paul turned to the issue of Sabbatarianism in chapter 4.

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But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?

Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.

I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

--Gal. 4:10-11.

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There were exactly four Sabbath types in ancient Judaism, and Paul listed and condemned the mandatory observance of all four sorts in these verses:

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1. Weekly Sabbath.

2. New moon (Rosh Kodesh).

3. Times (the Moedim, or “appointed times”--biblical holy days in the Law: Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost *, Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles).

4. Sabbath years (there was one in AD 48 or 49 when this was written).

* Not technically a Sabbath.

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Now some false teachers, stung by these verses, will try to explain their way around them by playing games with the Greek when it speaks of the “times,” and will assert:

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“Paul is actually speaking about pagan Astrological observances, because the Greek word kairos there refers to that!”

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It’s true that one of the things kairos can refer to is indeed pagan Astrological observances. But what the Sabbatarian won’t tell you, either because of his ignorance or dishonesty, is that kairos is also the equal of the Hebrew word moed, and in the Greek Septuagint is used to refer to the “appointed times” of the Jewish Festivals in places like Lev. 23:4 and Num. 9:3!

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That’s exactly what Paul is referring to here.

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Again, let’s look at the four observances Paul criticized: All four of them are identical to the Torah Sabbaths! Even the Sabbath year is listed, and I know of no pagan observance in that society that corresponds to something that goes on for a full year! So far as I am aware, only the Jewish Sabbath year was a year-long observance that the people in that part of the world might be exposed to. Since there was indeed a Sabbath year when many believe this epistle was written, the issue that may have arisen is that the converts ceased working that year, and looked to the church to somehow support them. When we recall that Paul’s issue was Jewish legalists mixing Law with Grace to start with, there is no question whatever these same legalists would have taught all forms of the Sabbath--and coincidentally, all those forms are listed in Gal. 4!

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Then let us recall what the theme of Galatians is.

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Was Paul writing because the Galatians had rejected Christ, and had returned to worshipping pagan idols?

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Not at all! There is no disagreement--even among Sabbatarians--that the chief reason Paul wrote Galatians was to refute the doctrine of legalistic Jewish teachers. From the first sentences, Paul goes on to denounce mixing Judaism with the Gospel, dealing first with how he had been an exemplary Jew, yet was dead in sin before Christ was revealed to him. Then he tackles the subject of circumcision, and moves on from there.

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By the time he gets to chapter 4, he is ready to tackle Sabbatarianism, because the theme of Galatians is absolutely a rebuke of the people keeping the Jewish Law, not pagan laws!

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The Sabbatarian now knows he has a problem with chapter 4, so he will state that Paul has branched off to talk about pagan practices. But we can overwhelmingly refute the Sabbatarian’s claim by looking at verses 10 and 11, then moving past verses 12-20--where Paul diverts from the subject to remind the Galatians of how well they once got along--and then going to verse 21 where he picks up his theme again.

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And what does he say?

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21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?

22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.

23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.

24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

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Paul has not been talking about pagan practices, but the Sabbaths in the Law from Sinai!

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If it would help, let’s write that out, putting aside the extraneous verses that divert to talk about the relationship Paul and the Galatians once had, and focus only on the connected theme of the indictment he is making in verses 9 to 11, and 21 to 30:

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9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?

10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.

11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

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                                                                          12 Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are:  

                                                                          ye have not injured me at all.

                                                                                                  13 Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached

                                                                                                  the gospel unto you at the first.

                                                                                                  14 And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised

                                                                                                   not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even

                                                                                                   as Christ Jesus.

                                                                                                  15 Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear

                                                                                                  you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have

                                                                                                  plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.

                                                                                                 16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you

                                                                                                  the truth?

                                                                                                 17 They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would

                                                                                                  exclude you, that ye might affect them.

                                                                                                 18 But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good

                                                                                                  thing, and not only when I am present with you.

                                                                                                 19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until

                                                                                                 Christ be formed in you,

                                                                                                  20 I desire to be present with you now, and to change my

                                                                                                  voice; for I stand in doubt of you.

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21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?

22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.

23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.

24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.

28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.

29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son:** for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.

** Words 100% applicable to many Sabbatarians!

..

“No! No!” the Sabbatarian will insist. “The Galatians couldn’t ’turn back’ to Sabbath observance since they had been pagans before Paul! So it must be talking about pagan observances! You can see that in verse 9 where it talks about “elements,” using the Greek word stoicheion, which refers to following pagan gods in Astrological and idolatrous worship!”

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What these people miss, in their deception, is the true context of the passage. We do not assert that Paul was claiming these Gentiles had ever kept the Sabbath. We claim his point was actually based on verse 8:

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Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.

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Meaning, as good pagans, back then--but not now--they had performed religious duties and obligations like honoring certain days, making certain sacrifices, and doing certain things to appease creatures that by nature were not gods, but merely masqueraded as gods. Now, having been deceived by the Judaisers, they were rejecting the Gospel of Grace, and while not actually returning to worshipping idols through pagan rituals and Astrological observances, they were re-embracing the same sort of system of works-based appeasement of the God they had accepted by adopting Law, circumcision, and/or Sabbath observance. This is why Paul asked earlier, in chapter 3:

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This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

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It is thus not a return to literal pagan idolatry, but rather a mindset of paganism--reflected in turning to the ‘Covenant of Works’--they were returning to through the influence of the Judaisers, and bringing that mindset into the faith, trying to placate God through the Law, something Paul shows even he was guilty of in verse 3 of chapter 4:

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Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:

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Elements” (stoicheion), is the same word the Sabbatarian uses to claim that Paul was speaking of the Galatians participating in pagan Astrological rituals in verse 9, yet he uses the same word about himself in verse 3!

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Is Paul saying he was once a pagan?

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No!

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Paul is saying that he was caught up in the same mindset of religious bondage, trying to placate God under the Law, just as the Galatians were once doing when they tried to placate Satanic forces through their own commandment-keeping, sacrifices, and religious ordinances. Thus, the argument that Paul was accusing the Galatians of returning to paganism--rather than turning to the Sabbaths and Judaism--is easily refuted by anyone who looks at the chapter and allows its clear context to define Paul’s words.

.

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“But the apostles were all Sabbath-keepers--even Paul!” the Sabbatarian next says.

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Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.

As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

--Acts 21:24-25 (quoting James).

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So we see that while the early Jewish apostles and disciples were Sabbath and Torah-observant, James says the Gentiles were to do, “no such thing,” and reiterates the ruling of Acts 15, 10 years earlier, which only called upon the new converts to watch out for a few ungodly practices--rather than to keep some set of laws and commandments to make heaven!

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“But the church kept the Sabbath until the Catholic popes banned it, and Constantine made Sunday worship a law!”

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This is another common lie spread by Sabbatarians. First, let’s look at the Scriptures:

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And upon the first day of the week,*** when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

--Acts 20:7.

Upon the first day of the week,*** let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

--1 Cor. 16:2.

.*** A few of the more dishonest Sabbatarians will pay a word game here, and incompetently claim the verses should be understood as first of the Sabbath, but the same wording is used in John 20:1 when Mary comes to the tomb, and not even the most deceived Sabbatarian denies it refers there to the first day of the week, rather than the Sabbath day. And, of course, so far as 1 Cor. 16: 2 goes, no Jew would ever have taken up or assembled a collection on the Sabbath!

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Starting with the Book of Acts, on into 1st Corinthians, we see clear Sunday worship by at least some of the early church.

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Also, 1st (Didache), 2nd (Justin Martyr), 3rd (Didascalia), and 4th (Augustine) century Christian writings, among many other sources, all show Sunday worship in existence.

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The 1st century Didache--written centuries before Constantine--is the earliest document outside the church acknowledging Sunday worship when it says, “But every Lord’s day gather yourselves together, and break bread….

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The next-earliest reference is from around 105 AD, and Ignatius of Antioch, second or third bishop of Antioch, who led the church while John was still alive in Ephesus, and wrote--before his martyrdom in 110 AD--about Christians who “have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day.

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You never hear Sabbatarians quote those ancient passages, and address them, do you?

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You don’t because their theology cannot stand on its own two feet when tested against the full scope of Christian writings and history, and they know that. So they will ignore history that refutes their claim, and instead pick and choose other writings out of history favorable to their doctrine.

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Many, for example, will attempt to deceive the sheep by using the following quote from the 5th century:

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For although almost all churches throughout the world celebrated the sacred mysteries on the Sabbath of every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, refuse to do this.

--Socrates Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History, Book 5, Chap. 22.

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Wow--sounds like Socrates of Constantinople, has made a great point for the Sabbatarians!

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Maybe the Sabbatarians are right, and the church was Sabbatarian until some pope forced it to change, and we should go back to Sabbatarianism to follow God!

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...Or could it be this quote is actually part of a contrived lie by the Sabbatarians to deceive the unlearned?

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Let’s see the entire passage where this quote comes from:

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And among various nations there are other usages, for which innumerable reasons are assigned. Since, however, no one can produce a written command as an authority, it is evident that the apostles left each one to his own free will in the matter, to the end that each might perform what is good not by constraint or necessity. Such is the difference in the churches on the subject of fasts. Nor is there less variation in regard to religious assemblies.

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For although almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the Sabbath of every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this.

.

Notice how the Sabbatarians leave out the context of the passage to make their lie seem believable?! The same source they appeal to as “proof” the church must be Sabbatarian says it’s up to the individual to decide because there ‘is no written command as an authority’ regarding things like fasting and the day of worship!

.

Even worse, these same people seem to avoid this quote from Socrates:

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The people of Constantinople, and almost everywhere, assemble together on the Sabbath, as well as on the first day of the week, which custom is never observed at Rome or at Alexandria.

--Socrates Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History, Book 7, Chap. 19.

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And so true history--not the lying writings of 7th Day Adventists, Messianics, Armstrongites, and other heretics with a Sabbatarian agenda--shows that as far back as there are records of the Christian church, Christian churches worshipped on Saturday, Sunday, or Saturday and Sunday, and there was no issue against Sunday worship, nor was Sabbatarianism made a salvation issue or a mandatory observance for the early Christian church.

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That’s the difference between truth and heresy: As Romans 14:5-6 shows, the day of worship is irrelevant, and one may choose either--and the history of the early church shows it did exactly that for centuries, neither requiring Saturday or Sunday observance to be an equal member of the Community.

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Only as the church, in later centuries, sought to distance itself from Judaism, did it formalize a Sunday worship day, leaving a Saturday “Sabbath” behind--just as 2nd century Jewish Christians in Jerusalem had dropped a Saturday Sabbath to worship on Sunday to distance themselves from the non-Christian Jews. This, according to the History Channel®, is why they were allowed to remain in Jerusalem after its fall, while Jews were driven out of it into Diaspora.

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But the entire argument over Saturday or Sunday, or whether or how to rest, is moot: The New Testament is clear that Christians are not required to keep the Sabbath laws, and our paradigm for that is found in Abraham, who never heard of or kept the Sabbath, despite the Sabbatarian’s Scripturally-indefensible claim that he must have.

..

Meanwhile, I challenge any Sabbatarian to show me Christian writings from the 1st-3rd century from any Christian group mandating Sabbath observance as a requirement for Gentiles to be in the church--or specifically denouncing Sunday worship--and let’s see what these writings say vs. known history and the New Testament Scripture.

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Or,  let’s ignore all this and go right to the New Testament instructions to the church in the epistles.

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I’ve shown the church in Acts and the Corinthian church meeting on Sunday. Now...

..

Can anyone show me one time where Paul explicitly commanded the Sabbath be kept by Gentiles?

Can anyone show me one time where John explicitly commanded the Sabbath be kept by Gentiles?

Can anyone show me one time where James explicitly commanded the Sabbath be kept by Gentiles?

Can anyone show me one time where Jude explicitly commanded the Sabbath be kept by Gentiles?

Can anyone show me one time where Peter explicitly commanded the Sabbath be kept by Gentiles?

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You have all the epistles from Romans to Revelation to draw from.

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I can show you repeated admonitions to righteousness, upright business dealings, abstaining from fornication, rejection of idolatry, love for one’s brother, doing good, obeying civil authority, paying taxes--and many things like that. But not one place where the word “Sabbath” even appears except here:

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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.

--Col. 2: 16-17.

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In fact, you can’t find anyplace in the New Testament where Gentiles are commanded to keep the Sabbath. What you can find in the Old is the necessity for Sabbath observance, and even circumcision for Gentiles under the covenant from Sinai--a covenant that keeps men in “bondage”:

.

Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

--Gal. 4:24-26.

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“Well,” says the Sabbatarian,  “just because the Bible is silent on any explicit Sabbath-keeping before Moses, that doesn’t mean people of God didn’t keep it.”

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All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

--2 Tim. 3:16.

.

We do not base our faith on Sabbatarian speculation and inability to back up his doctrines with explicit Scripture. We go by Scripture--and Scripture shows no call to Sabbath observance before Moses, says through Nehemiah it was given through Moses, and where it does call for Sabbath observance, Scripture says it was because God delivered the Jews from Egypt!

.

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“B-But Jesus said to pray that you don’t have to flee on the Sabbath, so obviously He taught Sabbath observance!”

.

Those words were spoken to the Judeans of the 1st century in context of prophesying the fall of Jerusalem.**** Many of these same Jews were so fanatical about keeping the Sabbath that they denounced Jesus for healing on it! So for them, God forbid the armies of Titus arrive on the Sabbath because these same people would have stayed put and been slaughtered!

**** See “them”in verse 16. Also, the apostles present when Jesus spoke this were either dead or not in Judea when Jerusalem fell; and the Christian community departed Jerusalem before the actual siege began.

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But let’s say the Sabbatarians are right on this point. When they have confronted me with Jesus’ words here, claiming they are proof positive that Jesus was commanding Sabbath observance, and showing how important it is to rest, I have asked many of them questions like this: “Say one Saturday morning a dam above your town was going to give way and wipe out everything, and local authorities called for an emergency evacuation of the city. Would you and your family stay in your house and die on the Sabbath, because you are forbidden to travel, or would you get in your car and head for the hills?”

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Typically, I then get a snide remark that I’m being either silly or legalistic, yet these same Sabbatarians would go to the very verse I’m basing my question on (Matt. 24:20) and use that verse to claim Jesus demanded Sabbath rest always be observed, even to the extent of not fleeing the murdering armies of Rome or the Antichrist!

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If there is a Sabbatarian out there who takes this verse as doctrinal instruction by Jesus, and would be sincere enough to actually follow His words and stay put in his easy chair as the water rose to his neck and above, I haven’t met him.

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And that’s called hypocrisy.

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“But if we love Him, we’ll keep his commandments; and the saints have the testimony of Jesus, and keep the commandments of God!” says the Sabbatarian.

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Then pull out your bris knife, and circumcise yourself, I reply, because “God’s Commandments”--if you insist on using the word “commandments” in your Bible to always mean “God’s Law”--actually demand Spiritual and physical circumcision as I noted earlier!

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Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel.

--Ez. 44:9.

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So if we live under the Old Testament Law the Sabbatarian seems bound by, then yes--Gentiles must keep the Sabbath and get physically circumcised to go to the Temple and worship with the Jews.

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But since we live under the New covenant, show me the word “Sabbath” in the letters to the church if we must still keep it!

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Then show me New Testament instructions to the Gentiles in the churches just how to keep the Sabbath properly!

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May the Gentiles cook? Gather water? Light a fire? Travel? Transact business? Carry a burden? Have sex? Some or all these are death penalty violations of the Sabbath according to the Old Covenant some of you think is binding on the New:

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Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: Everyone that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

--Ex. 31:14.

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What do the New Testament epistles, then, teach to the poor, ignorant Gentiles, coming out of paganism, that they may do and must not do on the holy day of the Sabbath?

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Those epistles teach them to love one another, avoid idolatry and sexual sin, avoid greed, avoid drunkenness, avoid disrespect to parents, and to do many other things, including something as mundane as being quiet in the church.

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But I don’t know of one command of how these same Gentiles who need to be taught to avoid idolatry, sexual sin--and even murder--are supposed to keep a Sabbath God says you must be executed for if you defile it by so little as gathering some sticks on it!

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When the Sabbatarian says the Bible--Old and New Testament--affirms the keeping of the Sabbath, ask him to cite the verses where the New Testament says that, and then instructs the new converts on just how to keep that Sabbath.

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You will find the Sabbatarian cannot do that, and will simply set up straw men to knock down, use circular reasoning, appeal to Old Testament verses about the Law, make weak arguments from from a handful of vague New Testament verses to refute clear verses on the subject, or make rhetorical arguments like, “Jesus kept the Sabbath--shouldn’t we be like Him?”

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Well, the answer is, we should do what He and His apostles called on us to do, and the observance of the Sabbath is not among the things in the New Covenant of Grace we are called upon to do.

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“That the New Testament is silent on commanding Sabbath observance is the strongest argument for it! That shows everyone already knew they had to keep it, so there was no reason to tell them to keep it!”

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This foolishness speaks for itself. An argument from silence is the weakest possible, made in desperation when a person has nothing solid to fall back on. The Sabbatarian would have us believe no instruction on the Sabbath was necessary because “everyone knew what they were supposed to do, and so it was unnecessary.”

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Yet these same people had to be warned against adultery?!

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Apparently, they had the Sabbath down, but were ignorant on the subjects of adultery, idolatry, drunkenness, and so on.

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Amazing.

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“Shouldn’t we at least keep the principle of the Sabbath?”

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If you see some principle that it is unhealthy for mankind to work seven days a week, and needs at least one day off, or you see the good in focusing on worship or family one day a week, by all means take advantage of that. But do not uphold those principles as commandments of God in the New covenant that place us in sin and condemnation if we do not observe them. The requirements for believers have been clearly stated in the New Testament (starting at Acts 15 where “no greater burden than these necessary things” is shown), and Sabbath observance is not one of them!

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I would add that a noted a noted 7th Day Adventist once asked: “Are you saying I’m going to hell for keeping the very commandment God said to remember?!”

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The answer is, “You might well!”

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Why?

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For the same reason a Galatian who obeyed the “everlasting covenant” of circumcision in Genesis 17 would find that, “Christ will profit you nothing”: There are only two covenants for justification God ever established. One is of Law, and one is of Grace. If you mix the two, albeit sincerely and with good intent, Paul--not me--declares…

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Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.

For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

..

A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

--Gal. 5:2-4, 9.

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A little bit of legalism, or a little bit of error, can pollute the entire Gospel--not according to me, but according to Paul--and either we dismiss what he says, or we take him seriously on the issue!

...

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“Well, I know I’m not in trouble on Judgment Day because I’m keeping the fourth commandment and the other nine!”

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So did the Rich Young Ruler and the Pharisees. That didn’t save them. It won’t save you.

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The truth is, no Sabbatarian really “keeps” the 10 Commandments any more than any Jew “keeps” the Law! Both are equally deceived, and neither really “keep” the Law, but rather try--and fail--to keep the Law they think applies to them.The Sabbatarian simply thinks he’s better off than the Jew because Christ forgives his failings to perfectly keep the Law, while the Jew remains condemned.

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Yet the person who thinks like that is no different from a Pharisee certain he’s going to be all right on Judgment Day because he’s keeping the whole of the Law, including the Sabbath!

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The Sabbath didn’t do the Pharisees one whit of good because the Sabbath can’t save anyone, and a conscious or unconscious belief that it guarantees security in eternity puts a Christian in precisely the same boat as a Pharisee certain his Torah observance will guarantee his place with God!

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While it is no sin to worship on Saturday, or to “rest” on Saturday, neither is there any righteousness in it. Sin enters when placing one’s trust in his Sabbath observance as a sign of being a “real” Christian that will secure his salvation. To cross the line and require Sabbath observance as a command that places salvation at stake if it is ignored, or to tout it as some sort of “test” to see if one is really a worshipper of God,  is to leaven the Gospel of Grace exactly as the Judaisers did with circumcision, which is a commandment God called an “everlasting covenant,” and was so important that He even tried to kill Moses when he refused to circumcise his son!

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Note that--an “everlasting covenant.”

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Shouldn’t that settle the issue? Shouldn’t language like that show this is a commandment that can never be ignored? That absolutely must be kept? That to ignore it would have to place salvation at risk? That a commandment so important to God (Ex. 4:24) that He literally “sought to kill” Moses for not obeying it must absolutely be kept throughout every generation?

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But Paul, the council of Acts 15, and the writings of the New Testament absolutely show this “everlasting covenant” from the mouth of God has no place in the New covenant method for justification and right-standing with the same holy God who gave it in a different era and dispensation.

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Many sincere, yet deceived, Sabbatarians believe the Sabbath is the “test commandment” to see if they will obey God, and having adopted that commandment--while, hypocritically, keeping it nowhere near as strictly as the Scripture calls for--believe they have passed the test, and are thus secure in their salvation.

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Yet many of those same people are as damned as the Judaisers who kept that same Sabbath commandment, for ultimately there is no difference between a hell-bound Jew placing his security with God in his circumcision and Torah observance, and a hell-bound Gentile placing his in the Sabbath and 10 Commandments.

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It is exactly the same false Gospel! The only difference is that the Judaiser accepted 100% of the Law, while today’s Sabbatarian typically accepts only 2% of it, yet thinks he’s the one who’s really being obedient!

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Oh--and in case you wonder, I go to church on Saturdays.

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