PART 5 THE SEVENTH DAY SABBATH
CHAPTER 6The Church Age
Well here it is, the current era or dispensation in which we live.
What will the scripture sections we are about to look at tell us about the subject of observing the 7th day Sabbath?
We are about to find out.
From the day of Pentecost to the rapture of the church
Jesus promised the disciples after he left this earth, that he would send to each of them the Holy Spirit, who is another member of the trinity, to come and indwell their bodies. On the day of Pentecost, this promise was fulfilled. From that time on, the disciples (the apostles) mission would be to proclaim the good news that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, who is God, came to earth to die on a cross as a substitute for mankind, thus paying the penalty demanded by another member of the trinity, God the Father, for all of the sins that were committed by the entire world, past, present, and future. This payment opened the door for sinful man to have an opportunity to enter into heaven immediately at physical death, provided they repented (an acknowledgement of sin) to God the Father and professed belief in his Son, as to who he is and what he had accomplished on the cross. When any person repents to God the Father and believes in his Son, they will receive another member of the trinity, the Holy Spirit, who is both a person and deity. He will provide the new believer with at least one spiritual gift, divine power, and the opportunity to experience a new way of life that is based upon a new way of thinking, which is delineated in the scriptural sections of the New Testament e.g. in some passages of the Gospels, the book of Acts, the Epistles, and the book of Revelation. In some cases, a new believer might also receive an office gift, which is a gift that is a calling to a leadership position in the church such as that of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. The collective purpose for which is the perfecting (the mending, repair, or correcting of all that is deficient) of the saints, the work of the ministry (the work of Christian service) and the edifying (to cause to grow strong) of the body of Christ so that every member might become mature or fully grown.
One last reminder once again.A non-dispensationalist will look at certain scriptures in which observing the 7th day Sabbath was mentioned, and will choose those verses that support the perpetuation of this practice throughout human history. In most instances, verses from the Old Testament will be used to justify supporting an observance or protocol that was instituted under the Mosaic Law. These scriptures will be used to interpret verses that talk about the same topic in the book of Acts, the Epistles, and the book of Revelation from an Old Testament perspective.
A dispensationalist will look at scriptures in which observing the 7th day Sabbath was mentioned during the Church Age. The view as to whether observing this day should continue will be derived from scriptures contained in the book of Acts, the Epistles, and the book of Revelation. While Old Testament scriptures could be used to better understand this topic from a Jewish perspective, the determination as to whether this particular day should be observed by Christians will be determined by New Testament writings.The next question has to with what I would consider a strange concept concerning the Sabbath. What is meant by saying that a Jew could not travel on the Sabbath no more than a Sabbath day’s journey?
16. A sabbath day's journeySuggested Reading: Acts 1:12; Joshua 3:1-17; Numbers 35:1-7
As we have been made aware, work of any kind was not allowed to take place on the weekly 7th day Sabbath. However, there were exceptions. Works of worship, mercy, and necessity were allowed. Another interesting restriction on the Sabbath had to do with how far a person was allowed to travel on this day.
Acts 1:12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey.
On this day of the Jewish week, the Jews were not allowed to travel more than 2000 cubits (less than half-a-mile) from their place of dwelling. 26 This prohibition could have been derived from two different passages of scripture, where a distance of 2000 cubits was noted. The first had to do with the Jews getting ready to cross over the Jordan River under the direction of Joshua their leader. They were told that when they saw the priests carrying the ark of the covenant, they were to leave their place and follow it at a distance of 2000 cubits. The other occurrence where 2000 cubits was mentioned pertained to the Levites. Apparently, when the Jews entered the promised land of Canaan and began to conquer the territory the Levites would be given a certain land area or city where they would dwell. Apparently, this city would be fenced all around with a wall. Outside this wall for 1000 cubits would be called the suburbs, i.e. the place where their livestock would dwell. And beyond the suburbs for another 2000 cubits all around would be the land area that would be specifically used for fields and vineyards. Numbers 35:1-7So, there you have it. Somehow, the distance of 2000 cubits came into effect in term of how far someone could legally travel on the Sabbath day without penalty. Anyone caught in violation of this law would receive forty stripes save one. The only exception to this was in cases when someone’s life was in danger the people were allowed to overstep the prescribed boundary. Well, as we know, laws are meant to be broken or changed for personal convenience. The Pharisees (the orthodox Jews) in the days of our Savior, also contrived other means whereby the fraternity of this order could exceed the Sabbath day's walk without transgressing the Law. They ordained that all those who wished to join their social gatherings on the Sabbath were to deposit on Friday afternoon (the day before the Sabbath) some article of food in a certain place which was to be located at the end of a Sabbath day's journey, so that it might thereby be constituted a domicile, and thus another Sabbath day's journey could be undertaken from the first terminus. 27
In the early church, many of the Christians continued to observe some of the tenets of the Mosaic Law, one of them being in attending the synagogue worship on the 7th day Sabbath. With this in mind, here’s the question. Did Christians attend the synagogue on the Sabbath, because they were still under obligation to keep the Law?
17. They went into the synagogue on the sabbath daySuggested Reading: Acts 13:13-52Acts 13:42-43 And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
Paul and his company have arrived at Antioch and had decided to go into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. After two portions of scripture were read, one from the Pentateuch and the other from the Prophets, they were asked if they were interested in giving the sermon. Paul consented, stood up, and spoke concerning Jesus Christ, who he proclaimed was of the seed of King David, the fulfillment of prophecy, and the savior of Israel. After the sermon ended and the people dispersed, Paul was approached by the religious proselytes (circumcised Gentiles), who asked if him and his entourage could attend the synagogue on the next Sabbath so that he might preach the same words.
Can we conclude anything as to whether a Christian was obligated to keep the Sabbath?
There are three schools of thought in respect to Paul and his company observing the Sabbath. The first would state that Paul and his co-laborers observed the Sabbath, because Christians were under obligation to do so. The second would say that Paul and his companions entered the synagogue on the Sabbath as a means to spread the gospel. The third would say that the observances by Jewish and Gentile Christians involving certain tenets of the Mosaic Law were being questioned and responded to by the apostles. This brings us to the following question.Were the Gentile Christians commanded to keep the Law?
18. The Gentiles are not commanded to keep the law Suggested Reading: Acts 14:26-28; 15:1-30 Acts 15:1-2, 4-5 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And when they were come to Jerusalem, But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
Acts 15:22-24; 29 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
There were certain men of Jewish persuasion, who contended with Paul and Barnabas, teaching that the Gentiles must be circumcised in order to be saved. Paul and Barnabas decided to go to Jerusalem in order to discuss this matter with the apostles and elders, who were abiding there. After much discussion, a consensus was reached that an epistle be written and given in the care of four men, Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas, who would go to the churches of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia and read it to them. This letter would convey to each of the assemblies of Christians that the Gentile believers did not need to be circumcised in order to be saved, and neither did they have to keep the law of Moses. However, the Gentile converts were instructed to abstain from the pollutions of idols, fornication, from things strangled, and from blood.
Why, if the Gentile believers were not commanded to keep the Law of Moses, were they asked to observe the Jewish dietary Laws in respect to blood?
They were asked to observe the Jewish dietary laws, because the early church would gather together daily for group meals, called agape feasts, at which time food would be shared amongst one another. So, instead of offending fellow Jewish believers, who still observed the dietary restrictions under the Mosaic Law at these get-togethers, the Gentiles believers were asked to bring the food of animals that had blood drained from them. Likewise, if they brought something to drink, they were to make sure that it contained no blood.
Were Jewish Christians also prohibited from observing their customs under the Mosaic Law?
From what I could gather, the Jews were not told that they couldn’t continue to practice their customs, which were based on the tenets of the Mosaic Law. However, it became abundantly clear that they could neither be saved nor grow spiritually by doing so.
Are there any scriptures which support the view that eventually the early church began to meet regularly on the first day of the week?
19. On the first day of the week Paul preached unto the disciplesSuggested Reading: Acts 20:6-12
Paul met up with Timothy at Philippi. After observing the Feast of the Passover, they observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which immediately followed and lasted for seven days. After this, they departed and came to Troas.
And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days. 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.…and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. (Acts 20:6-7; 11)
On the first day of the week, which is the day that followed the 7th day Sabbath, the disciples gathered together to hear the formal preaching of the word by Paul. At midnight, they partook of the agape feast, which was a common meal that took place in the houses of guests or at a particular place of meeting. Following which, the observance of the Lord’s Supper took place. It was a custom that when people had not seen each other for a long time, they would stay up late filling each other in on one another's lives. 28 After the preaching and the feast had commenced, Paul communicated to them in a more informal and conversational manner until dawn (sunrise – 6:00am).
As I teach on no matter what subject it is, the rule of thumb is, don’t use just one verse to support a perspective. Keep on reading and hopefully a more comprehensive conclusion can be reached concerning as to whether Christians in the early church had decided to gather together on the first day of the week for worship, praise, and the agape feast instead of continue to attend the synagogue on the 7th day of the week.
In the next section, there are those who believe that a Christian is under obligation to keep the moral commands of the Mosaic Law which are otherwise known as the Ten Commandments. I had these drilled in me in my younger years as I attended a particular church with my parents every Sunday morning. Keeping these moral commandments seemed to be the right thing to do. However, if we are no longer under obligation to keep theses moral commandments, then how would we answer the following question in this regard?How is a believer able to satisfy the moral commands of the Law i.e. thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not covet, etc.?
20. For with my mind I serve the lawSuggested Reading: Romans 7:1-8:3Romans 7:22-25 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Before his conversion to Christ, Paul was a Pharisee. This was the strictest sect in Judaism. He adhered to the duties of keeping the Mosaic Law and the interpretive traditions of the scribes without fault (blameless). When he became born anew in Christ, he was having a very difficult time in his walk with God. The Law would express to him what he should and shouldn’t do. As he tried to comply or obey the Law in his mind, he was aware of another law, which was warring against his mind. This was the law of sin and death, the old sin nature that has affections and lusts, which delights in breaking the Law.
Romans 8:2-3 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
Paul asked this question, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? This is the condition of a mind in deep distress, conscious of its own weakness, and looking for aid.29 He then proceeded to answer his own question by basically saying that there are two components to this dilemma. The first part of it had to do with believing in Jesus Christ thus becoming born again. The second part had to do with one of the benefits of salvation, which is in the receiving of another member of the trinity, the Holy Spirit, who will come inside the believer and indwell. As a result, when the word is heard by the believer the Holy Spirit will allow him/her to have a renewed mind (to that which is illuminated by the Spirit of God, so that it understands and wills aright30). Paul realized it was only by the power of the Holy Spirit that he could be delivered from the controlling influences of the law of sin leading to death.
Romans 7:6-8 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.
As for the Law (Mosaic), which pronounced judgment and inflicted penalty upon sin, could not depose it from its dominion.31 Likewise, it is only by means of the power of the Holy Spirit along with a mind that is illuminated by Him, are we able to serve the Law. When I say serving the Law, what I mean is because of the Spirit and a renewed mind, we are able to dethrone the dominion of sin, and thus are able to fully satisfy those moral commands of the Law, such as: thou shalt not covet, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, etc.
What we will seek to find an answer for next pertains to the Jewish Christians of the early church.
Did the Jewish Christians of the early church observe both the 7th day Sabbath with their fellow saved and unsaved Jews along with gathering together with their fellow Jewish and Gentile believers on the first day of the week for worship and praise?
21. As God hath prospered him1 Corinthians 16:1-3Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 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. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.
The Christians at Jerusalem needed financial assistance. On the first day of the week, which is called the Lord’s Day (the day of the Lord’s resurrection), the day following the 7th day Sabbath, church meetings were held in Corinth and Galatia. In the early days of the Messianic Community, Jewish believers continued to observe Shabbat (the 7th day Sabbath) as a day of rest and met for Messianic worship in the evening after it was over.32 The evening was considered part of the first day of the week as new the Jewish day (the first day) began at sunset (6:00pm).According to the context, money was to be set aside for the assistance of the Christians at Jerusalem. This money was to be placed in a Poor’s box or alms purse. The apostle followed the rules of the Jewish synagogue concerning the collection for the poor. It was a regular custom among the Jews to make their collections for the poor on the Sabbath day, so that they might not be without the necessities of life. Each member of the Christian church was commanded to continually lay aside on the first day of each week a contribution for the assistance for the Christians at Jerusalem, as God had prospered him/her. It’s pretty obvious that the converted Jews observed both the 7th day Sabbath with their fellow saved and unsaved Jews and the 1rst day of the week with their saved Jewish and Gentile Christians. As time went on, this eventually caused conflict. Fellow unsaved Jews began to persecute those Jews who got saved. Likewise, in the Christian faith it was made clear that observing any tenet of the Mosaic Law could not bring about salvation or sanctification.
What the next section will talk about is the difference between divine righteousness and moral righteousness. Many churches believe that if a Christian keeps any aspect of the Mosaic Law, they will become morally righteous. Thus, what follows is a pertinent question to this perspective.Can a Christian become righteous by keeping any aspect of the Mosaic Law?
22. Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?Suggested Reading: Galatians 3:2-29Galatians 3:2-3 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
Paul was writing this epistle to the Galatian churches, which were comprised of converts from heathenism and Judaism. The Jewish converts, some of whom were under the influence of Judaizing teachers, were teaching that a man was righteous by the keeping of the Mosaic Law. Paul’s response to this assertion was that no man was righteous by the keeping of the Law, because after having received the Holy Spirit by the hearing of faith and subsequent response to it, a believer walk was to be in dependence upon the indwelling Holy Spirit, who was to rule his spiritual life as its active principle.
Romans 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The Mosaic Law was the preparation for the nation of Israel until the coming of the promised Seed, Jesus Christ. 33 When the Jew believed that Jesus was the Messiah, then he/she obtained eternal salvation in the kingdom of God. Now that he/she was made right with God, they were free from the burdensome rites of the Law and this is true of all converts to the faith of Christ. 34 So, if this is indeed the case, then how does a believer become sanctified or righteous? There are two kinds of righteousness. Human righteousness and divine righteousness. Another way we could describe human righteousness is to call it moral righteousness. This type of righteousness has as its guide either what is considered as righteous behavior by the society or country we live in or what is considered righteous conduct by the commands of the Law given by God to Moses. While its true that if an individual or nation lives according to the precepts of the Mosaic Law such as thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not covet, etc. there will be evidence of human morality based on God given commands. Remember, this righteousness has its accomplishments centered on human effort operating in the sin nature obeying God’s directives. However, in the Church Age the righteousness that we should be operating in is called divine righteousness or the fruit of the Holy Spirit. This righteousness is not dependent on obeying commands from the Law, but by a believer operating in a renewed mind and surrendering themselves to the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit. A renewed mind is a mind that is not obeying commands from the Old Testament, but thinking with the new truths about ourselves, others, and the circumstances of life as revealed to us through God’s word as presented in some of the four Gospels, the book of Acts, the Epistles, and the book of Revelation.
The next section we will look at seems to always hit a nerve in my soul every time I think about it. It’s interesting to note that many churches want their assembly to observe some aspect of the Mosaic Law. Whether this be in trying to be moral by observing the Ten Commandments; whether by obeying certain food or drink prohibitions; whether by worshipping on the 7th day Sabbath; or whether by being committed to tithing of one’s income. With these thoughts in mind, the following question has been proposed. Is a Christian subject to the rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic Law?
23. Let no man therefore judge youSuggested Reading: Colossians 2:4-3:2Colossians 2:13, 16-17 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 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.
Paul was saying to the Colossian believers, let no man sit in judgment upon you or make rules for you to obey concerning: the distinction of meats and drinks, what was considered clean and unclean (dietary laws), observing the annual festivals (feasts), celebrating the new moon, or being attentive to observing the many Sabbaths associated with these feasts or festivals. All of these things are described as being a shadow of the body which cast them and the reality behind them, which is of the Messiah.
Colossians 2:20-22 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
Colossians 3:1-2 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
The apostle Paul goes on to say, in view of the fact that you have died with Christ and are no longer under rules and regulations, then why are you still subject to the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish religion, which now perish into destruction, having accomplished the end of their institution, namely to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith? It is so sad that Christians are pressured to do thus and such under the Mosaic Law as their Old Testament Jewish counterparts, who lived during a different dispensation and operated under a different protocol in accomplishing God’s plan for the individual as well as for the nation of Israel. Christians in the Church Age are also given certain commands, but these are entirely different from those prescribed to the Jews under the Mosaic Law. Christians are commanded to walk in the Spirit, to pray without ceasing, to be filled with the Spirit, to put on the whole armor of God, to confess their sins to God the Father, to walk in love, to set their affections on things above, etc. These commands have their basis in having a renewed mind. In operating in the fruit of the Spirit. Unfortunately, many churches probably don’t understand that our spiritual walk should not be centered on doing with improper motivation, but on developing the fruit (the elements of character) of the Spirit so that our doing of whatever is based on divine perspective, divine power, spiritual guidance, and spiritual discernment.
What we will take a look at next is whether the 7th day Sabbath is a type of something in the New Testament. Do you have any idea of what it is a type of?
24. For we which have believed do enter into restSuggested Reading: Hebrews 4:1-11Hebrews 4:9-11 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
These verses convey to us that there remaineth a rest to the people of God, i.e. for us Christians. A foretaste of this rest is given in the inward rest which the believer's soul has in Christ. The word rest points back to God's original rest and speaks of the ideal rest. The Sabbath rest is a type of this rest because the Christian reaches a definite stage of attainment and has satisfactorily accomplished a purpose, as God did when He finished the work of creation. It is not the believer's rest into which he enters and in which he participates, but in God's unique, personal rest in which the believer shares.35 This particular unique rest will result in a cessation from toil and a rest similar to that of God – of the same kind of enjoyment, the same freedom from care, anxiety, and labor. How happy then are they who have entered into heaven! Their toils are over. Their labors are done. Never again will they know fatigue. Never more will they feel anxious care.36 This rest is a rest that we should aspire to enter into on a day to day, moment by moment basis.
The question we will attempt to answer next has been asked and answered earlier. Because this is such an important question, we will try to provide a response to it using different verses than the ones used before. This is of such paramount importance that it needs to be looked at again.Is a Christian obligated to keep some of the commands of the Old Testament legal and ceremonial system?
25. A change also of the lawSuggested Reading: Hebrews chapters 7,8, & 9; Genesis14:20-24 Hebrews 7:1-8 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.
In this context, after four Mesopotamian kings had taken Lot captive along with all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah Abraham and his armed servants attacked them recovering Lot and all of the booty (spoils of battle). Following this victory, the king of Sodom and a priest named Melchisedec came out to meet him. Initially, Abraham decided to give a tenth of the spoils to Melchisedec, priest of the most high God. This tithe was from the spoils of battle and not from the soil of the land, flocks, or herds. The remainder was given to the king of Sodom, because not only was it was really his to begin with, but also because Abraham didn’t want the king of Sodom telling everyone that he became rich, because he took what was left for himself even though the culture allowed for a person, who reclaimed someone else’s treasure to keep it for themselves. We are told that Melchisedec, a priest, was someone who lived forever and received tithes of Abraham. Likewise, the sons of Levi (who was one of the sons of Jacob, a grandson of Abraham) also received tithes, because they were given the office of the priesthood during the institution of the Mosaic Law. What this tells us is that tithes were given to someone who lived forever and to others who didn’t.Furthermore, Melchisedec’s priesthood was to continue in the type of the person of Christ. Tithing to Melchisedec from the spoils of battle didn’t change the reality that the Levitical priesthood with all of its conditions to follow could not remove the obstacle, sin, which kept man from God, and make a way of access to God. However, it does appear that some churches would argue that if Abraham tithed to someone who lived forever and was a type of Christ, then likewise Christians should tithe to someone who lives forever, that being the one whom Melchisedec was a type of, Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 7:11-12 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.
Eventually, the priesthood being changed from the Levitical priesthood to the priesthood of Christ necessitated a change also of the Law. This meant that one entire legal system, the old covenant, would be changed to another, called the new covenant, which is a covenant of another character. This new covenant involved: a law written in the heart, eternal blessings, eternal salvation, eternal redemption, and being able to have an intimate relationship with God. The old covenant is no longer of any force. That which was growing out of date and waning of strength is ready to disappear, which pertains to the laws which are abolished or fall into disuse.
Hebrews 8:6, 13 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
What the unbelieving Jews did not realize was that their "solid religion" had grown old and was about to vanish away. In A.D. 70, the city of Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Romans, and the Jews no longer had a temple or a priesthood to serve them ever since. 37
Some believe that the following group of scriptures supports the idea that instead of Christians obeying the commands of the Law externally, He wants to put them in their mind and write them in their heart so that they can obey them internally. The following question pertains to this. When God said that he would put his laws into the mind of those who were in the house of Israel and the house of Judah was he talking about laws (commands) pertaining to the Mosaic Law?
26. I will put my laws into their mindSuggested Reading: Hebrews 8:1-13Hebrews 8:6-13 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
Jesus is the mediator (the one who deals impartially with two parties who have made a contract) of a new covenant, which is a new law, the perfect law, the law of liberty that is established upon better promises (promises to enjoy greater benefits). For if nothing was lacking in the first covenant, the covenant made under the Mosaic Law, then no place should be sought for another one i.e. the covenant of grace. The first failed to provide an atonement that would pay for sin, once and for all. It also did not provide for enabling the people to live up to the terms or conditions of it. Therefore, the Lord decided to make a new covenant (one that is fresh and different) with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In this covenant, He will put his laws (not those that pertain to external rites and ceremonies, but to the inner man, and are designed to control the heart38) into their minds (causing them to think about my ways) and write them (to fix indelibly) on their heart, which is the center and seat of the spiritual life.
Can we get more of a clarification of what these new laws constitute?
The word laws is obviously in the plural form. The Koine Greek (the language of the common people during the time of Christ and in which most of the New Testament was written along with limited writing in Aramaic) transliteration (change letters into similar characters of the English alphabet) of this word is nomous from nomos. The plural form appears only twice in the New Testament and as we have already seen, it refers to laws that pertain to the inner man. In order to obtain a better understanding of this word, let’s take a look at its singular form law (nomon from nomos) from the following verses.
Acts 15:5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
It is clearly evident according to this verse that this word refers to the law of Moses, the Mosaic Law. In the next group of verses, however, this word means something entirely different.
James 1:23-25 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
The context is probably familiar to you. It talks about the difference between being a hearer of the word and a doer of the word. What the difference is between such. This has something to do with the word law i.e. the law of liberty. An example that follows might help us to understand these words as pertaining to being a hearer or doer of the word.The apostle James gave an example of what any Christian, who is only a hearer of the word, is liken unto. They are like unto a man who is attentively observing and considering his reflected image (his natural face; who he used to be) in a mirror. The mirror can be by analogy the word of God, which not only helps us to see our shortcomings and defects, but also provides the appropriate instruction that will help us, when we find ourselves immersed in them. Some of the spiritual remedies are self-examination, name and cite known sin, and recovery (find out and memorize God’s word as it provides for us his perspective that we should reflect upon throughout each day which pertains to any area of weakness).However, if this man (or any believer) decides to disregard the divine prescription for their life and not address the issues that they see in the mirror then they will not grow spiritually. However, if he/she looks (attentively) into the perfect law of liberty (the word of truth) and continues therein (yields steady obedience to the word), he/she will be a doer of the work (puts the word into practice; the (one) who obeys God from a loving heart and pure conscience39), and as such will be blessed (happy; it will exert a good influence over his whole soul40) in his deed (doing). There we have it. The new law for the Christian is the perfect law of liberty. This perfect law refers to the word of truth, i.e. teaching that sets us free from sin and death" or "...that helps us to escape from sin and death41, revealing the protocol way of life for the New Testament saint as conveyed in some of the scriptures from the four Gospels, the book of Acts, the Epistles, and the book of Revelation.
We have one final section to look at and the question that pertains to it. Is the Lord’s day, the day of Christ’s resurrection, a Sabbath?
27. I was in the spirit on the Lord's dayRevelation 1:9-11 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
John, the apostle, was on the island of Patmos, where he had been banished by one of the Roman Emperors. On this particular day, the Lord’s day, the day of Christ’s resurrection, the first day of the week following the weekly Sabbath, he received visions, being overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 20:7 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.
1 Corinthians 16:1-2 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 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.
The Lord’s day is the first day of the Jewish week, not Sunday. In Jewish terms, the first day of the week followed the weekly 7th day Sabbath which began and ended at 6:00pm (sunset). Sunday, a name given to one of the Roman days originally was originally considered as the 2nd day of the Roman week beginning and ending at midnight (12:00am), but was later changed to the first day of the Roman week. Remember, the words first day of the week are terminology of the Jews, and not of the Romans.
●On the weekly Sabbath, the Jews were not allowed to travel more than 2000 cubits, or less than half-a-mile from their place of dwelling. This boundary could be overstepped, if someone’s life was in danger. Acts 1:12; Joshua 3:3-4; Exodus 16:29; Numbers 35:5
●Some infer that because Paul and his company observed the synagogue worship on the weekly Sabbath that they were confirming the idea that the Sabbath is the day of worship for Christians. It is true that Paul and his company continued to: observe the Sabbath, attend the yearly feasts, etc. However, when they did, they used these as opportunities to preach the gospel of Christ. As time went on, the unsaved Jews began to persecute their fellow saved Jewish believers as they became aware that observing the tenets of the Mosaic Law could neither provide for them salvation nor sanctification. Acts 13:13-52
●Many of the Jewish Christians were teaching that their fellow Gentile believers needed to be circumcised in order to be saved. However, the apostle Paul and the leaders of the Jerusalem church concluded that this mandate was not to be supported. Furthermore, they reasoned that neither were the Gentile Christians responsible to keep any aspect of the Mosaic Law. There were some restrictions which were decided upon that they should observe, two of which was that they should not drink blood nor eat the meat of animals, which had blood in them. Why were these prohibitions brought forth? These were put in place, because the Gentile and Jewish Christians would gather together for a social meal that would provide relief for the poor. In order to prevent disharmony, the Gentile believers were asked to be sensitive to their fellow Jewish believers, who were continuing to observe the dietary laws pertaining to blood as instituted under the Mosaic Law. There is one more thing to keep in mind. From my understanding, the Jewish believers were not told that they couldn’t continue to practice their customs. However, they became aware through divine revelation of scripture and the teaching of such by the early leaders of the church that these practices would not secure for them salvation and neither would they bring about personal sanctification (spiritual growth). Acts 14:26-28; Acts 15:1-30
●On the evening of the first day of the week, which followed the Sabbath, the disciples gathered together to hear the formal preaching of the word by the apostle Paul. At midnight, they partook of the agape feast, which was a common meal that took place in the houses of guests or at a particular place of meeting. After which, they observed the Lord’s Supper. Many of the Jewish Christians not only observed the weekly Sabbath, but when this day ended, they participated in the assembly of the Christian church during the evening (after sunset) on the following day. Acts 20:6-7
●For the Law, which could pronounce judgment and inflict penalty upon sin, could not depose it from its dominion. It is only by means of the power of the Holy Spirit along with a mind that is illuminated by Him are we able to serve the Law. When I say serve the Law, I don’t that we are to continue to obey its commands. I mean that by a renewed mind and the ministry of the Spirit are we able to dethrone the dominion of sin, and are able to fully satisfy the commands of the Law, such as thou shalt not covet, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, etc. Romans 7:1-8:3
●Each member of the church was commanded to continually lay aside on the first day of each week, known as the Lord’s day, the day of the His resurrection, the day following the Sabbath, a contribution for the assistance for the Christians at Jerusalem, as God had prospered him/her. 1 Corinthians 16:1-3
●Jewish converts, possibly under the influence of Judaizing teachers, were teaching that a man was righteous by the keeping of the Mosaic Law. Paul’s response was that no man was righteous by the keeping of the Law. As they had begun in the Spirit, having received Him at salvation, they were instructed to be filled with Him i.e. to walk in the Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit means to be under the Spirit’s control. It also suggests the idea that this condition occurs because the believer has yielded him/her self to Him. When we are yielded to him, he is said to control us in our mind, emotions, and will42. As we learn how to consistently be under his control, we will increasingly manifest his fruit i.e. love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Galatians 3:2-29
●Paul was telling the Christians at Colossee that when they believed in Christ, they were identified with him in his death, burial, and resurrection. As such, they have now become a new creature. So, why was it that they were continuing to be subject to the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish faith, which had accomplished the end of its institution, namely to lead them to Christ, that they might be justified by faith? Colossians 2:4-3:2
●There remains a rest for the people of God. This rest pertains to the inward rest, which the believer's soul has in Christ. A characteristic of this rest is a cessation from toil and a rest similar to that of God – of the same kind of enjoyment and of the same freedom from care, anxiety, and labor, when He finished the work of creation. We have the opportunity to enter into this rest on a day to day, moment by moment basis. Hebrews 4:1-11
●One entire legal system, the old covenant, was changed to another, called the new covenant, which is a covenant of another character. This new covenant involves: a law written in the heart; eternal blessings; eternal salvation; eternal redemption, and being able to have an intimate relationship with God. Hebrews chapters 7- 9; Genesis14:20-24
●The Lord decided to make a new covenant (one that is fresh and different) with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. As a result, He will put his laws (these laws do not pertain to external rites and ceremonies, but to the inner man, and are designed to control the heart43; these laws could also refer to the perfect law of liberty, the word of truth, i.e. teaching that sets us free from sin and death" or "...that helps us to escape from sin and death44) into their minds (causing them to think about His ways) and write them (to fix indelibly) on their heart, which is the center and seat of the spiritual life of the soul. Hebrews 8:1-13
●John, the apostle, was overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit on the Lord’s day, the day of Christ’s resurrection, the first day of the week following the weekly Sabbath, and received visions. These visions were written in a book and sent to the seven churches, which were located in Asia. Revelation 1:9-11
We have arrived at the culmination of this study. If those who are in the leadership of the church you are attending are dispensational, then they will use only those verses found in some of the sections of the Gospels, the book of Acts, the Epistles, and the book of Revelation to support their view as to whether Christians are obligated to observe the 7th day weekly Sabbath. If those, who are in the leadership positions of your church are non-dispensational, it is likely that some of them will advocate that a Christian is obligated to observe the 7th day Sabbath. If this is indeed the case, the support for their perspective will be from using scriptures from the Old Testament. The interpretation of such will be used change the meaning of verses from the New Testament that are contrary to observing this day.
The dispensationalist would use the following information to support their view that a Christian is under no obligation to observe the weekly Sabbath.
~ Paul and his company observed the 7th day Sabbath, the yearly feasts, etc. of the Law not out of obligation, but to be a witness to the Jews that the fulfillment of the Law was found in the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Acts 13:13-52
~ The Gentile believers did not need to be circumcised in order to be saved, and neither did they have to keep the Law of Moses. The Jews were not told that they couldn’t continue to practice their customs. However, none of them could secure salvation or provide personal sanctification by means of obedience to it. Acts 14:26-28; Acts 15:1-30
~ The newly converted Jews would observe the Sabbath, and then on the following day, the first day of the week during the evening (after sunset), they would join their fellow Gentile brethren in worship. Acts 20:6-7
~The moral tenets (the Ten Commandments) of the Mosaic Law (e.g. thou shalt not covet; thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not murder, etc.) are no longer to be observed by means of self-effort, but will become realized in a Christian’s soul, when the believer operates in a renewed mind under the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 7:1-8:3
~ Believers, whether Jew or Gentile, are no longer under the Old Testament legal and ceremonial system, but under the new covenant of grace. Hebrews chapters 7- 9; Genesis14:20-24
~ Christians (Jewish) are not under obligation to continue to observe the laws under the Old Covenant, but God will put his new laws (the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus; the law of liberty; teaching that sets us free from sin and death" or "...that helps us to escape from sin and death45) into their minds and write (to fix them indelibly on) them on their hearts. These laws involve a new way of thinking about ourselves and others. Hebrews 8:1-13
Those non-dispensationalists that believe that Christians should observe the weekly 7th day Sabbath would use scriptures from throughout the Bible especially the Old Testament in support of their view. Some of the reasons they might use to support their perspective are as follows.
~ The keeping of the weekly Sabbath was prophetic of God resting on the 7th day of creation. Genesis 1:1-2; 2:2
~ The Jews observed the weekly Sabbath during their wilderness wanderings and when they entered the land of Canaan. Exodus 16:1-36; Exodus 19:9; Exodus 20:8-11; Leviticus 23:3
~ Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath and did not prohibit the observance of such. Matthew 12:8
~ Jesus observed the weekly Sabbath during His incarnation. Luke 4:16-17
~ The Jewish Christians and the apostles of the early church observed the weekly Sabbath thus confirming that it is still the day of worship for Christians. Acts 13:13-52
~ The observance of the 7th day Sabbath instituted by God for the Jews was to be for perpetuity, which because of such is still binding today for Christians. Exodus 19:9; Exodus 20:8-11
~ When the early church assembled on the first day of the week, it was simply because it was another day to gather for worship. Acts 20:6-12
~ The Jews were not told that they couldn’t continue to practice their customs, which emanated from the Mosaic Law. Because of such these observances are to be continued to be kept by the entire Christian assembly. 1 Corinthians 16:1-3
~ There is a rest to the people of God, which is found in observing the 7th day Sabbath. Hebrews 4:1-11
~ Since the temple was destroyed in 70AD by the Romans, some of the Laws have fallen into disuse, but not all. Hebrews chapters 7,8, & 9; Genesis14:20-24
~ God will put all of the Mosaic Laws into the minds of the New Testament believers and write them indelibly on their heart. Hebrews 8:1-13
Before I leave you with some final thoughts, I thought that you might be interested in how the idea of the observance of the Sabbath come to America.
Endnotes26Easton’s Bible Dictionary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 3 March 2012 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>. 27McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 10 March 2012 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.28IVP Bible Background Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 18 March 2012 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>. 29Barnes.30Calvin.31Jewish New Testament Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 1992, 25 March 2012 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.32The Bible Exposition Commentary,1989, 1 March 2012 ˂http://americanheritagedictionary.reference.com>.33Barnes.34Weust’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 26 March 2012 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.35Barnes.36Bible Exposition.37Bible Knowledge.38Barnes.39Adam Clarke.40Barnes. 41UBS. 42The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament 1989, 4 April 2012 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>. 43Barnes.44UBS. 45UBS.
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