The Haters: Sabbatarianism

Whenever a question starts out with something to the effect of, "Why do you forget the one commandment that begins with the word remember?" I know exactly where the conversation is going – absolutely nowhere. Sabbatarians are definitely among the most vehement haters of Sabbatarianism is somewhat different from the other haters in that it focuses so strongly on one particular issue – Sabbath observance.

The most commonly known sabbatarian group is the Seventh Day Adventists. Sadly, though, we are rarely able to determine which sabbatarian group is attacking us because it nearly always becomes a heated conversation very quickly. To many sabbatarians, Sabbath keeping is the most important issue in the Christian faith. I have literally had sabbatarians tell me that I am going to hell for: (1) worshipping/attending church on Sunday, (2) not legalistically observing the Sabbath day according to the precepts of the Old Testament Law, (3) not immediately changing my mind after having been exposed to the "irrefutable arguments" of sabbatarianism.

So, is there any validity to sabbatarianism? While God created the Sabbath on the seventh day of creation (Genesis 1-2), the Bible nowhere records God commanding Sabbath observance until Exodus chapter 20. The context of Exodus chapter 20 is clearly a covenant between God and the nation of Israel (Exodus 31:17). Outside of His covenant with Israel, God nowhere commands anyone to keep the Sabbath. Once the New Covenant was established at the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the only recorded instances of Sabbath observance were regarding Christian missionaries visiting Jewish synagogues on the Sabbath day. The apostles nowhere teach New Covenant believers to observe the Sabbath. In Acts 15, when the apostles were deciding what requirement should be placed on non-Jewish believers in Christ, the Sabbath conspicuously did not make the list.

What made the difference? Why is the Sabbath day not binding on New Covenant believers? Why are sabbatarians so completely wrong on this issue? Simple: the Sabbath command was part of God's covenant with Israel, and the death of Jesus Christ fulfilled that covenant (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15). We now have our Sabbath rest in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:9-11). Jesus is our Sabbath! So, sabbatarians, we are not going to allow you to judge us regarding the Sabbath (Romans 14:5-6; Colossians 2:16). I choose to worship on Sundays because that is the day Jesus was resurrected. I choose to find my rest in Jesus Christ rather than focus on resting on a certain day of the week.

S. Michael Houdmann

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The Haters: Sabbatarianism