Are to believe all that Rome has created in the way of a Christian Sabbath because Paul the apostle said to take an offering on the first day of the week? All of this because the Christians in Troas were meeting on the first day of the week? Are the things that believers do en masse therefore dictated by the Holy Spirit for all? It is through this philosophy of listening to "the piety of the people", that is, God speaking doctrines and practices through what the majority of the professing Church believes, that Rome has come up with other teachings, some of which are quite blasphemous. How far to go with such a philosophy? For me, no farther than what is written for all believers for all time, the Holy Scriptures that concluded with the apostle John in the first century A.D. If the people in their piety believe that, it is because there is light in them from Heaven. If they believe something beyond the word, it is fiction pure and simple.
This much we know, then. But the question comes, what do we do with knowledge thus gained? Does God care if we continue on as we are? Is there an eternal significance to the Sabbath to which true followers will eventually be drawn ? Is God more concerned with the picture or the reality of our rest in Jesus Christ and the coming rest of the planet during the Millennium? Are we under any laws of any kind in Christ Jesus, or are we truly free from law when in Christ?
Most of us are probably not aware of all the "Old Covenant" things we do in connection with our church life. Think of all the Psalms we sing, the prophecies we read and believe, the great histories of God's men and women. All of this is before Calvary and Pentecost, yet somehow we think of it as part of the will of God for us.
Let me ask you this: What common practice in the New testament Church was first practiced in the Old Testament times, but without a recorded command from God? It began in Genesis spontaneously, or so it seems, and was later a part of the Law of Moses. It was never specifically commanded in a New Testament book although it is implied in several. Since the New Testament church was first Jewish, we expect it is probably for today. Pastors swear by it, but it is much less a New Covenant idea than the seventh day Sabbath which is nearly written off as cultic. Answer? The tithe.
We are literally steeped in Jewish ways. Why do we want to exclude the Sabbath rest? Did God?
The question of the Sabbath, only one of ten commandments, and those commandments only one component of a comprehensive legal system, must be considered in a broader context if the hint of a solution is to be found. The much more difficult question concerns the law itself. What is the law's place in the believer's life? Did the law pass away? Are we totally lawless now?
For the answers, we return to the only written Source of Truth available, and call upon the Truth Himself to guide us through this maize. Let's read His prophet Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 31:31-34 [portions]. "Behold the days are coming, says 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... My covenant which they broke...But this is the covenant that I will make...I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."
a. First note that this covenant is not suddenly "Gentile". It is to be a new covenant for the old people. We know that Gentiles were admitted in, but it is originally offered to Israel and Judah. And originally, it was those Jews who responded.
b. Its newness has as much to do with method as with message. In fact, no change to the message is mentioned. But the way of communicating this covenant, we discover later, is the Spirit of God and His filling of the believer in Jesus. This will bring the obedience so long sought for by God.
c. But not to be overlooked here is the word "law" itself. "My" law, says God, the things I have always wanted them to do, not some new law, will be inside them. The destruction of all law is not envisioned here, only a way for God's people to keep that law holy.
Here then is a glimmer of light to help us to understand how the Sabbath, and other Commandments, can be kept by believers in our own day.
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