The Sabbath in Light of the Cross — 3 Comments

  1. Dear William,

    Thank you for this reminder:

    The Sabbath is a sign of God’s grace. We do no work on that day, demonstrating that it is not our works that sustain or save us but rather God’s work, both at creation and the cross, that sustain and save us. We rest on the Sabbath, showing that we are resting our faith in the only One who can save us, Jesus Christ.

    In the arguments over the “correct” day, it is altogether too easy to forget the correct reason and the correct way.

    If we view the Sabbath as a means to secure our salvation, the correct day will be of utmost importance to us, and it can lead us to treat each other in a most un-Christlike way. The Pharisees were very particular to keep the Law of God so they wouldn’t miss out on heaven. But they crucified the Son of God Himself!

    The same thing could happen to us if we focus on the “correct day” and miss spending time with the Lord of the Sabbath.

    If the Sabbath is a sign of God’s grace, then, in order to keep the Sabbath truly, we must be fully surrendered to the Lord of the Sabbath, knowing that our Sabbath keeping doesn’t save us and other people’s Sunday keeping doesn’t condemn them – unless they are resisting the voice of the Spirit in their lives. And, since we have no way of knowing how God is speaking to them, we have no way of judging whether they are truly serving God. In fact, uttering words of condemnation demonstrates our own law breaking in that we claim the prerogative of judging that God has reserved for Himself.

    I appreciate your reference to the fact that over 100 languages of the earth use or used to use a word analogous to “Sabbath” for Saturday. Many nations have now changed over to a different name, but it does tell us something that ancient languages correctly identified the seventh day as the Sabbath.

    Of course, in this respect the South Pacific Islands are an exception. The indigenous people had forgotten the seven-day week until the missionaries from Britain arrived there. And, when they did, they re-introduced the 7-day week and named the days to harmonize with their beliefs. Since they were Sunday keepers and believed that Sunday was rightly kept in fulfillment of the fourth commandment, they named the first day of the week “Sabbath,” just as they had referred to it in Great Britain and as it was also named in the New England states of America that had been established by the Puritans. So in these island nations, Sunday is now known as “Sabbath” even though it is the first day of the week. In fact Tonga’s stringent Sunday laws are known as “Sabbath laws” in their legislation.

    So we have a bit of a mixed history regarding the naming of the days.

    It is Satan’s work to create confusion, and he has surely been successful in the South Pacific islands. By joining the rest of the world in Sunday keeping, some of our fellow Seventh-day Adventists in the South Pacific have allowed their banner of truth to be dragged in the mud. God understands their hearts, and He will judge them accordingly. But as this world’s history draws to a close, it is time for His truth to shine clearly even in places like Tonga where the people have never been exposed to the seventh-day Sabbath truth, because Sunday was misidentified as the seventh-day Sabbath by the first Seventh-day Adventist missionaries. Now that we know better, it is indeed puzzling that the South Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists should work to broaden the scope of the misindentification. It just serves to demonstrate that, as long as human beings are in positions of leadership, they are capable of being misled and making mistakes. And it points up the importance of each of us having our own relationship with God and asking His Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth, according to Christ’s promise in John 16:13.

    As we try to shed light on the darkness of confusion so that truth may prevail, I pray that we will be guided by the Lord of the Sabbath who Himself is the Truth, the Way and the Light. And may we always remember that we are saved only by His grace and not by keeping the correct day.

  2. Amen to Inge, and amen to you, William! What a powerful and timely message! There was however one statement in your article, William, which has compelled me to question it.

    Satan does not want us to forget the Sabbath in order for us to forget the law.

    I believe the difference between truth and error is actually more subtle than that. Please correct me, if you believe I am mistaken, William. My understanding is that the great controversy between Christ and Satan is all about God’s law. Lucifer thought that obedience to law was unnecessary for the angels, who were naturally perfect. God’s law, of course, defines sin and righteousness, which are therefore at the very heart of the cosmic conflict.

    Where we mess up is when we start to think (consciously or unconsciously) that we as fallen beings have some natural goodness or virtue of our own by which to win God’s favour, and by which to form a righteous character through obedience to God’s law. The truth of the matter is that we are entirely helpless and dependent on the grace and righteousness of Christ to make up our deficiencies, both for pardon and for purity of heart and character.

    Oh yes, we do have free will, and God needs our consent at every step of the way. Jesus never said it would be easy or popular to be saved. Nevertheless, by utter reliance on Jesus and by a living connection with Him, we can be saved by His love — indebted to Him for absolutely everything. He is our peace of mind and our ability to stand tall without conscious guilt. He is the source of any goodness or righteousness that may appear in our lives, and He is our entrance into God’s kingdom of glory at last.

    Does all of this fit with your views, William? As you have pointed out, the Sabbath symbolizes the way that we rest confidently in His ability to save! It’s all about our relationship with Jesus.

    I see the subtle nature of the distinction between legalism and true obedience illustrated in the crisis over the Sabbath in the South Pacific.

    God bless!

  3. Thank you Inge and R.G. for you comments. R.G. I agree. Where you quoted me, it was more of a figure of speach, meaning it was more than just the law satan wants us to forget about. He wants us even more so to forget God’s grace. But yes, in the process he must make us forget the law.

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