Advindication Part 2: Was the Sabbath Altered or Abolished?

Scripture: Exodus 4:29, Exodus 20:8-11, 1 Corinthians 7:19
Date: 12/05/1998 
This is the second in a series on common misunderstandings regarding the teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is important for us to know what we believe. Some ask, "Wasn't the Sabbath abolished? Didn't the apostles keep Sunday? Don't we keep Sunday to celebrate Christ's resurrection?" These important questions are discussed in this sermon.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Morning. Happy Sabbath. I know we have a few visitors here today from the parents of the elementary students who are singing for us. And we really are glad that you’re here. We are doing a series right now and this is part two in a series that we’ve titled Advindication. We actually began this before Thanksgiving and now we’re resuming our study. We’re dealing very directly with some of the common misunderstandings about what Seventh Day Adventists believe, some of the objections you may run into. And we’re trying to hit these things head on. Now today’s message is going to be a bit of a Bible study. I hope you brought your bibles with you. You know the Lord tells us in II Timothy chapter 2, verse 15, “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” You may want to have a pencil and a piece of paper because I will be rattling off a whole spectrum of scriptures. I’m trying to compress in one message today a great deal of information that will be useful as you try to explain and study with friends why we believe what we believe. I think especially as we enter the last days, as Peter challenges us, we need to be prepared; we need to be ready to give an answer to someone who asks the reason for the hope that’s in us.

Now when you think of Pentecostals, what pet doctrine pops into your mind? Speaking in tongues, I heard you say that. OK. When you think of Jehovah Witnesses, you might think of one of a couple of things. Prominence on the name Jehovah, going out witnessing two by two. And they’re to be commended for their diligence in their witnessing. Very good about that. I don’t agree with the message, but their method is good. You think about Baptists, you might think about assurance of salvation or baptism by immersion. Different denominations have been known for being champions of specific teachings and basically that’s where they came from. They usually discover some element of truth, or they think they do, and they branch off and they start a new fellowship or denomination based on that series of beliefs. When people think of Seventh Day Adventists what’s one of the most prominent issues that pops up in their minds? You know, I’ve run into people who get us confused and they say, “Seventh Day Adventists, you’re the ones that don’t believe in blood transfusions, isn’t that right?” Have you run into that before? People get confused. You’ve got to be careful not to identify yourself to the regular secular world as an SDA. They sometimes confuse that with LDS, and other presidential names. So you’ve got to be careful to explain that you are a Seventh Day Adventist. But most people associate us with, “Ah, they keep the Sabbath.”

Now let me ask you a question. Should we ever be embarrassed about that? Think about it. If there is something in the Bible that Christians should not be embarrassed about proclaiming, if there is some element of theology that the Christian world at large has neglected or has misunderstood, where would you go in the Bible to find things in their priority? If it seemed to be as you looked through the Bible; as you look through the scriptures you would especially notice that when God speaks with His own voice, when He writes something with His own finger--the Ten Commandments written in stone. When one of those commandments is neglected or an attempt is made to change or to alter it, that should be something Christians would speak about. Amen? And we should never be embarrassed that we are associated with the seventh day Sabbath. It’s not because we believe it’s more important than the other commandments, but it is different. Let’s face it, it is different. Most governments have laws, civil laws, that uphold and support most of the Ten Commandments. Except for the first three that deal with our relationship with God. Most religions, most Judeo-Christian religions also embrace the first three. You’re to respect the name, idolatry is forbidden, not worship other gods. but the Sabbath is different. and you know, god says it’s different. It’s not different in a negative way, it’s different in a positive way. You see, we are saved by virtue of faith. You have faith in God because you know Him and you trust Him. You know somebody because you take time with them. The great commandment is to love the Lord. Love is nurtured through quality time. We hear a lot about that in our society today. The devil especially hates the Sabbath truth because it revolves around quality time with God and it’s under attack.

You know if you go in your Bibles in the very beginning, you can read where in Exodus chapter 4; matter of fact, we might turn there quickly. Exodus chapter 4. You remember when Moses is getting ready to approach the Pharaoh and to intervene to deliver God’s people from their slavery? Before he meets with the Pharaoh Moses meets with the elders of Israel. And after he and Aaron meet with the elders of Israel; and that can be found in Exodus 4, verse 29. It says here, “Moses and Aaron went and gathered together the elders of the children of Israel.” And they encouraged them and they told them the Lord was getting ready to do something great for them. Then they went from that experience and a few days later they go in and they meet with the Pharaoh. Evidently, during their first meeting with the people of Israel it says they “bowed their heads and worshipped.” They decided to rededicate themselves to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who they thought had forgotten about them. It’s also understood as you study the history that after a couple of hundred years of slavery they had begun to neglect the Sabbath day. When Moses goes before the Pharaoh, chapter 5, verse 1, “Afterward Moses and Aaron went in,” verse 1, “told Pharaoh, Thus says the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go,” Pharaoh didn’t’ want to let them go. He said, “Who is the LORD, that I should let them go?” And Pharaoh was really upset. He had heard that Moses had been meddling. You don’t’ think that he had representatives that were spying on the children of Israel and telling what was going on? And Pharaoh said, “You make, the people of the land are many now,” this is verse 5. Pharaoh said, “Look, the people of the land are many now, you make them rest from their labor.” That word in Hebrew is sabbath. You cause them to Sabbath. Evidently, the Sabbath had been reintroduced. “So the same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying, you’re no longer to give the people straw to make bricks, [as] before: let them gather it for themselves. And you’re to lay on them the quota of bricks which they made before; you shall not diminish it: for they’re idle; therefore they cry out, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord their God. Let more work be laid on them.” Now let me ask you a question. Who does Moses represent in the Exodus experience? Jesus, who comes to set us free. Then who would the Pharaoh represent? The devil. And how does the devil cope with their desire to worship God? He intensifies their workload. He yells at Moses, “You’re making them sabbath!” The devil hates the Sabbath and he’s doing everything he can to keep people so busy that they don’t have time to think about life or God or family. Sad thing, it’s not only in the world, but now it’s even in the church. People have lost the concept of resting.

Now, does it matter what day we rest? You notice in our scripture reading that Cliff had for us, three times in the beginning, before sin, part of God’s perfect plan in Paradise was the Sabbath. And it says there in Genesis chapter 2, verses 1-3, “The seventh day, the seventh day, the seventh day.” He blessed it and He hallowed it, He set it aside. How many Jews were in the world back then? None. Two people, Adam and Eve. Everyone related to Adam and Eve raise your hands. That’s why Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man. He didn’t say Jew. You’re going to run into argument number one, the Sabbath is a Jewish law. Have you heard that? But have you ever heard them say that about any of the other nine commandments? Isn’t it absurd to say that’s one Jewish law it’s the one that begins with the word remember, that Jesus said is made for man and they say that’s just a Jewish law. Well, God made it for the human race. We all need physical rest. We all need spiritual rest. So, the seventh day is the Sabbath.

What day of the week; I’m going to just establish something basic here because people might get this tape as one concise thing. What day of the week is the seventh day? Well, I’ve got it right from the dictionary. Look up the word Saturday. “Saturday, the seventh day of the week.” That’s pretty basic. Look up the word Sunday. “Sunday, the first day of the week.” If you look at a normal calendar you’ll see that it begins with Sunday and it ends with Saturday. Someone’s going to say, “Well, Doug, we can’t’ know what the days of the week are anymore because man has fooled with the calendar.” Is it true the calendar has been adjusted? Yes. Several times. Does any calendar adjustment ever affect the days of the week? Never. The days of the week are on a completely distinct, separate, isolated cycle of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Shall I go on? Never changes. When Pope Gregory, we’re under the Gregorian Calendar now. When Pope Gregory in 1582 I think it was, he took October 5th, Friday, and he turned it into October 15th, Friday. It didn’t change anything on the days of the week. It changed the calendar so the seasons would be in sync. That’s where we get leap year and all that so they could adjust them because there was a day missing every four years. And so, this idea that a change in the calendar changed the Sabbath, Saturday is the seventh day of the week. It has been since creation. It still is. There are a number of events in history that historians recorded the day of those events that could be mapped historically or with astronomy and they know there’s been no change in the calendar for thousands of years, even before the Christian era, that in any way affects the weekly cycle. You could write a letter to the US Naval Observatory. They’ll substantiate that. The best evidence, if you ask my opinion, you’ve got a whole nation of people all around the world called Jews, ask any one of them what day is the seventh day of the week. You might convince me that you could get a handful of Jews that are isolated on a boat out in the ocean that lose track of time and forget what day of the week it is. But not the whole nation around the world, forget their Sabbath day. And then if you don’t believe all that, you look in the Bible. It tells us that when Jesus died it was the preparation day. I’m rushing along. Look these things up. That Christ even kept the Sabbath in His death. He died before the Sabbath began. He rose after it ended. You could even say He guarded the hours of the Sabbath. He rose Sunday not to rest. He rose Sunday to ascend to continue His work as our High Priest in the presence of the Father. “He ever liveth to make intercession for us.” And so this idea that you can’t be sure what day is the Sabbath cannot be supported by the dictionary, the encyclopedia, the Bible, history, common sense. There’s no question about it. Matter of fact, it says that Jesus rose the first day of the week and everybody calls that Easter Sunday. We know the first day’s Sunday. So if the seventh day; well, if the first day is Sunday what would be the day before that? Saturday, which is the seventh day. Unless you’ve got an eight day week. OK.

Now, if we clearly establish that Saturday is the seventh day [of the] week and we admit that many Christians do not recognize Saturday as the seventh day of the week we’ve got to find out why. There are a handful of interesting arguments you’re going to run into. Matter of fact, you know I used to go to church on Sunday. I did not always believe the seventh day was the Sabbath. Even though I’m half Jewish, it just wasn’t an issue back then. And when I first learned the Sabbath truth I was still going to church on Sunday and I didn’t want to believe it because I thought, “How could so many people be wrong and a few be right?” All you’ve got to do is read the Bible and you’ll see a pattern of that, amen? Did the majority of God’s people when Christ came the first time recognize who He was? Did the religious leaders who had all their diplomas know who He was? Or was it a handful, many of them fishermen and shepherds, they were the ones who had the truth. It wasn’t the majority. Moses said, “Follow not a multitude to do evil.” So I started visiting the different pastors where I was worshipping and I’d ask them, “Why do we go to church on Sunday?” You know what convinced me? They all disagreed. And their answers contradicted each other. For instance, one would say, “Well Doug, yes we’re supposed to keep the Ten Commandments. Of course we are. Sunday is now the new Sabbath day.” And I’d say, “Why?” “Well, because Jesus rose on the first day of the week and it’s the new Sabbath for Christians.” And they’d say it in beautiful poetic ways. They’d have songs about it and it sounded really good. I’d say, “Now where’s the scripture?” “Well, there really isn’t a scripture, but we have a long standing tradition and that ought to be worth something.” Well, didn’t Jesus say, “Why do you set aside the commandments of God that you might observe tradition”? What’s more important commandments of God or tradition? Then I’d go to another one and he’d say, “No, we don’t need to keep the Ten Commandments anymore.” These are both pastors that are trying to support Sunday. “We’re not under the law.” I’d say, “Does that mean we can break the Ten Commandments?” “Well, of course not.” I’d say, “Well, do we keep the Ten Commandments or do we break them?” They’d say, “Well, we keep nine of them.” And they’d say the one commandment that we’re supposed to forget is the only commandment God chose to attach the word remember to and it’s the way it begins. The first thing you get in the Sabbath commandment is the word remember. And now much of the Christian world is saying forget it. That doesn’t make any sense to me. See, I didn’t want to believe these things. I needed evidence. But the more I studied the more glaring the evidence was that I can’t escape the fact [that] the seventh day is still one of God’s commandments and still the Sabbath. And when God writes something in stone with His finger it represents eternal. It’s unchanging. He speaks it with His voice. God is the same. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever.” Malachi says, “I am the LORD God, I change not.” This idea that God is wishy-washy, that He made a mistake back in Paradise when He picked the seventh day and He’s going to twist it now. Why would Jesus say, Matthew chapter 24, when He talks about, long after His resurrection, 70 AD when Jerusalem was destroyed, He said, “Pray that your flight be not in the winter,” verse 20. Matthew 24:20, “Pray that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day.” Some say, “Well, Doug, that’s because the gates of Jerusalem were shut on the Sabbath day and they were to pray they wouldn’t be locked in.” No, He told it to everybody in Judea, that they would flee into the mountains of Judea. They didn’t have a gate around all of Judea. That wasn’t the reason. It’s very basic. It’s hard to keep the Sabbath sacred when you’re fleeing for your life. And you don’t want to do it in the winter when there’s no crops in the field. Whey would Isaiah say, Isaiah chapter 66, speaking of “the new heaven and the new earth, that I will make, which will remain before me, says the LORD, so shall your descendents and your name remain. And it will come to pass, that from one new moon to another, from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come and worship before me.” How many people? “All flesh.” That’s why it says in Isaiah chapter 56, “Unto the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to me, keep my sabbath day.” So I hope I’m making it clear, all the way through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. The apostles kept the Sabbath day. Paul not only preached to Jews on the Sabbath, he preached to the Gentiles. Acts chapter 16 says, “And on the Sabbath day they went out of the city to a riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and he preached to the people.” Paul was a tent maker. You never see him making tents on the Sabbath day. And so, it’s very clear which day the Sabbath day is. They are keeping it all the way from Genesis to Revelation 22 where it says, “Blessed are they that do my commandments that they might have a right to the tree of life and enter through the gates of the city.”

So, next argument is it was changed into Sunday in the New Testament. Very quickly, let’s look at every reference in Sunday. You just jot them down and check them. Every reference to the first day of the week. Now is everyone here aware, is everyone here aware that in the New Testament you don’t find the word Saturday or Sunday either one? Or Tuesday or Wednesday. Those are Roman names. In the Bible it’s called first, second, third, fourth, fifth, preparation day, Sabbath. Look at every reference of the first day of the week in the Bible and does it say it’s changed? Keep in mind what we’re looking for. When God gives it, voice like thunder, people running for their lives, burning letters in stone, placed in the ark of the covenant, OK? We’re looking for something that’s going to be very clear, like when He gave it God made no mistakes about His law. Amen? All right. First reference Matthew 28:1. Most of these are simply recording when Jesus rose. I do not contest that Jesus rose the first day of the week. He did. He died on Friday. Does that make it a new Sabbath day? The Last Supper was on what day of the week? Thursday. Does that make it a new Holy Day? Christ did wonderful things many different days of the week. It doesn’t mean it’s a new Sabbath day. He didn’t need to replace the old one. Matthew 28:1, “At the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week,” Very clear. Incidentally, you know what I think is really good proof? Is in Luke chapter 23 where it says they would not finish anointing the body of Christ because they didn’t want to violate the Sabbath. So they went home and kept the Sabbath according to the commandment. If Jesus had taught the Sabbath didn’t matter then why would the disciples be so sensitive about not violating it even to finishing embalming His body? You remember why they came back Sunday morning when the Sabbath was passed, is now they could finish their work of embalming Him. If it was so important to the disciples how do we get the idea it’s not important today? Mark 16:2, “Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb at the rising of the sun.” And Jesus, of course, had risen. Does this say it’s a new commandment? New Sabbath day? New substitute? Does it say we’ve done away with the seventh, it’s now the first? Mark 16:9, “Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.” Anyone see a new commandment in there? Luke 24, “Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.” Any new Sabbath commandment in there? No. John 20:1, now this is getting closer now. “The first day of the week comes Mary Magdelene early, when it was yet dark, unto the tomb, and she saw the stone taken away from the schepluchre.” New commandment? No, not yet. John 20, verse 19, Ah, here they say, “Then the same day,” that’s the first day, “at even, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut the disciples were assembled together,” to inaugurate a new Sabbath day. Is that what it says? Why did they assemble together? “for fear of the Jews.” There is nothing; people say, “See, it was their first Sabbath meeting, on Sunday.” It doesn’t say that. And people who try and pack that into it, it’s dishonest scholarship. Acts 20:7, now this is a very popular one. Acts 20, verse 7, “And on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread,” “Ah-ha, first day, break bread. Communion service on Sunday. By the context, Doug, we can see they were now worshipping on Sunday.” Wait a second here. It tells us that they broke bread from house to house daily in Acts chapter 2. So if you’re trying to prove that it was a communion service because they broke bread, the Bible tells us that they broke bread every day. Breaking bread also does not always mean a communion service. In the Bible sometimes breaking bread simply meant eating. It never says communion service here. It says they got together to eat. OK? “Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and he continued his speach until midnight.” And if you read this story, the Bible says Paul preached too long until somebody fell asleep and they fell out of the third loft window and he died and Paul went down and embraced him and prayed and the man was resurrected. So why is Luke telling this story? Because God is inaugurating a new commandment? He’s replacing the Sabbath day? Or because Paul resurrected somebody? It’s also a lesson for us preachers not to preach too long. People can die when you do that. But we are going to have a regular service today. We don’t have fast food here at Central. All right, so there’s no Sabbath being inaugurated. Incidentally, after they raise Eutychus from the dead they go upstairs and it says they break bread again. Now it’s the next day. So you can’t get that. Actually, when it says they met in the upper room at night; when does a day begin and end in the Bible? Sundown. They had been together all that Sabbath, the sun goes down, the first day begins. It’s Saturday night is when this all took place. OK? And then Paul is making a long trip the next day. No Sabbath keeper would go, take a journey like that the next day.

Last scripture, first day of the week mentioned in the New Testament. I Corinthians 16, verse 2, “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” “Ah, see Doug. It’s a church service,” someone is saying, “and they were taking the collection during a church service.” No, it’s actually saying quite the opposite. He’s saying, “Let each one gather, lay aside, by him that there be no gatherings when we’re together.” In other words, set aside at the beginning of the week, that’s what the first day means. The beginning of the week, “lay aside as God has prospered you.” Now keep in mind, in the Sabbath keeping economy that the Jews and the Christians had back then they would bring their tithes and offerings on the first day of the seek, I’m sorry, on Sabbath and then on the first day of the week they would get their accounts in order. And they’d see what they had extra to give to the saints that were starving in Jerusalem. Paul was taking an emergency offering, an adra offering, down there to Jerusalem. He said, “In order that there be no offerings during our regular services, lay by you at your house in store when I come.” And that’s how they did that back then.

All right, we’ve just gone through all the references of the first day of the week in the Bible, in the New Testament. Have we found any commandment now that substitutes the Sabbath day? So my question is, was it changed? No, there’s no record of it. If you want to know the record for the change you’ve got to go long after Peter, James, John, the apostles and Paul died. Long after the death and resurrection of Jesus. Hundreds of years later, slowly, imperceptibly Christians began to try to reach the pagans by accommodating them. And one of the things they did was they embraced the Roman day of the sun, which is Sunday, in order to reach more Romans. For a while they kept both days, trying to serve two masters. They’d keep the Sabbath on the seventh day. They’d keep the first day to try and be more attractive to the Romans. And gradually there was a creeping compromise where over time Sunday eventually substituted the seventh day of the week. You can look this up in the encyclopedia. You can look this up in the encyclopedia. You can look it up in the history books. You can look in a Catholic Catechism and they’ll freely tell you that you’ll find nothing in the Bible that talks about the change of the Sabbath. It was done solely by the authority of the church. They acknowledge that. Matter of fact, I can quote you reference after reference from Bible scholars from virtually every denomination, from Moody and from the Baptists and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and all of them will agree there’s no Biblical support for a change.

All right. Well, if the day was not changed then maybe it was abolished, somebody’s thinking. It was done away with. Let’s read a few scriptures in Romans. Some people think that the Sabbath was abolished by either faith or grace or the Spirit. And you’ll see why I’m saying that. First let’s hear what Paul says in Romans. You know what I ought to do before I do that? I want you to; don’t lose your place in Romans. I want to direct your attention to II Peter chapter 3, verse 15. This is a very important scripture. I like Peter, you know why? He’s a fisherman. I can understand him. Peter’s real basic. II Peter chapter 3, verse 15, “And regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; so also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him; speaking of this as he does in all his letters; there are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist, to their own destruction.” Now what is Peter saying about the writings of Paul? That there’s a common misunderstanding when people read the writings of Paul that can be twisted in a deadly way. “Misunderstanding the things that Paul is saying,” Peter says, “can be fatal.” “They twist to their own destruction, as they do other scriptures. Ye therefore, beloved, since you are forwarned,” notice this, “beware that you are not carried away with the error of the lawless.” The problem that they had was regarding the law. People who are lawless are without law. And so here Peter is warning people, “Don’t take the writings of Paul and twist them. People often misunderstand what he’s saying.” You know what the principle misunderstanding was? The law.

Let me see if I can explain something and then I’ll delve into it deeper. The Ten Commandments are a separate complete, concise law that stands alone in itself. The word law in the Bible is sometimes used to include a number of things. Sometimes it includes the first five books of the Bible. And it may include even more than that. Sometimes the Bible writers used the word law to talk about all of the law: the civil law, the health law, the moral law, the whole thing. They lump it together. And because the writers used the word differently some of the critics of the Sabbath truth have seized upon that and said, “All the law’s been done away with because sometimes they refer to all the law.” But you have to admit, friends, God made a distinction between the Ten Commandments and the ceremonial laws. Are there some laws that Christians are not obligated to observe? Is it required Biblically for Christians to be, Christian men, to be circumcised? Is it required? No, let me read you some scriptures that deal with that real quick. 1 Corinthians 7:19, “Circumcision is nothing,” Paul is writing, “uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.” Now what do you think he means by that? Here he’s saying circumcision, that wasn’t; wasn’t circumcision a commandment? Sure it was. In the Old testament it was. “Circumcision’s nothing, uncircumcision’s nothing, what matters is keeping the commandments.” That’s what he says. Well, is Paul making a distinction then between the ceremonial laws and the Ten Commandments? He is saying, “These ceremonial laws,” and he points to circumcision, “those aren’t’ the things that matter, but keeping the commandments of God.” And some will say, “Well, Doug, that’s just the commandment to love your neighbor and love God.” Have you run into that before? Well, they say that until you say, “Well, does that mean we can break the other nine?” “Well, no, of course not.”

Now let me get back to Romans. Romans chapter 3, verse 31. “The law has been made void by faith,” some people say. You’ve run into that one before. “We don’t need to keep the Sabbath because now we live by faith.” Paul says, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid:” Do you know what that means? “Certainly not.” “Don’t think this.” “yea, we establish the law.” Romans 6, verse 1 and 2, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” Some people say, “Doug, we’re not under the law anymore, we’re under grace. We don’t need to keep the Sabbath because we’re under grace.” What does Paul say? “Shall we continue in sin,” what is sin? Breaking the law of God. “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.” “Don’t think that.” “How shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” Romans 6, verse 14 and 15, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace.” People say, “Ah, praise the Lord, I’m under grace. I don’t need to keep the law.” When Paul says not under the law he does not mean no longer under obligation to obey. He means you’re no longer under the penalty of the law because of your faith and because of God’s grace. Because you’re no longer under the penalty of the law does that mean you’re free to disobey? Paul says and Jesus says, “God forbid.” That’s why Christ said, “Think not that I have come to change the law.” He says, “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law? God forbid.” Now have you noticed a pattern here? Three times in reading where Paul is talking about the relationship between the law and grace, the law and faith; lest people misunderstand and they think that means we can disobey the law, he says, “God forbid, God forbid, God forbid,” that you should do that. The law of God is just and holy and good. It’s perfect.

Well, maybe we’ve been freed from the law now because we have the spirit. Romans 7, verse 6, “But now we’ve been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by; so we should serve in newness of spirit, and not the oldness of the letter.” Doug, you keep the Sabbath. I don’t need to worry about it anymore because I’m under the spirit. You’re following the letter. Yes, I know the letter says remember to keep the seventh day and if you go by the letter, help yourself. But you’re under the letter. I’m under the spirit. I am a higher breed.” I’ve run into this before. Now, what they’re suggesting is now that you’re keeping the spirit of the law you don’t need to obey the letter. But there’s never going to be that conflict. And I touched on this, if you remember, in our last talk. If a person says, “I keep the spirit of the law that says you’re not to commit adultery; I don’t worry about the letter. Yeah, I know, I commit adultery, but it’s; spiritually I keep it.” It’s impossible to keep the spirit of the law while breaking the letter. But yet people, when it comes to the Sabbath, they think you can do that. “I’m more spiritual. I don’t keep it literally, I keep it spiritually.” You tell your parents, “No, I didn’t make my bed, but spiritually it’s clean.” They’re not going to go for that. “I realize I didn’t eat my mashed potatoes, but spiritually they’re gone.” No, your heavenly Father doesn’t fall for that either. This idea that you can say you’re spiritual and that’s a substitute for doing His will. Jesus said, “Not everyone that says Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven; but they that do the will of my Father in heaven.” The most complete, easy to understand expression of God’s will is the law of God, the Ten Commandments. Now, while we’re reading Romans don’t leave out Romans chapter 2, verse 13. You might underline that. People take the writings of Paul selectively to try to say we don’t need to keep the law. You read everything he says, you’ll never come to that conclusion. Romans 2:13, “For not the hearers of the law will be just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified.” If that’s clear say amen. So it’s not those who just say, “I hear it,” or “I’m spiritual. I’ve got faith,” or “I’ve got grace.” The grace and the spirit and the faith is what enables us to be doers of the word. Amen? So this idea that we’ve been delivered and we don’t need to obey.

Now let’s go to the very common arguments you’ve run into. Romans 14, verse 5. You heard that one before? “I don’t keep the Sabbath because the Lord says it doesn’t matter anymore.” Romans 14, verse 5, “One man esteems one day above another: another man esteems every day alike.” I’m reading verse 6 also. “Let each one be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it.” Now, if you take this on its surface, the way some people would, you’d get the idea that God is wishy-washy and vacillating and He’s saying, “Yeah, I know I wrote it in stone and killed people in the Old Testament for disobeying that, but hey, you know, whatever turns your crank, that’s up to you. If you want to keep the Sabbath feel good. If you don’t that’s OK.” Is that what God’s saying? Notice something here. There’s a distinction between the ceremonial laws and the Ten Commandments. In the ceremonial law there were a number of Sabbath days that were vastly different from the Sabbath of the Ten Commandments. The Sabbath of the Ten Commandments existed before sin. Part of God’s perfect plan. The ceremonial Sabbath days, the Jewish holidays like; my grandparents just invited us down for Hanukkah. Actually, that’s a holiday you don’t find there in the Old Testament. It was added later. Or Yom Kippur, or Feast of Tabernacles, or Feast of Trumpets and Passover. And there’s a variety of holidays that came annually, not weekly. The yearly cycle. They were dates. They didn’t come before sin, they came after sin. They weren’t part of the Ten Commandments, they were written on paper. Not spoken by God’s voice, spoken by Moses’. Now, do you see a distinction? So here the discussion is taking place with Paul and among the Romans, he’s saying, “If you want to keep or release these Jewish holidays do it at your will. I have no burden to persuade you one way or the other. If you’re going to observe it, observe it to the Lord.” Sometimes people come to me and they say, “Pastor Doug, I think Christians should still keep the Passover.” And I say, “Well, you know, in a sense we do. Every time we have communion service that’s an extension of the Passover. The first Passover, or the first communion service was a Passover. But if you’ve got a burden to do it another way,” I said, “well, I hope you get a blessing. I have no desire to change your mind.” I read them Romans 14. That’s where you apply that. If somebody comes to me and says, “Doug, I think that we ought to remember the resurrection of the Lord which took place around Easter. We ought to have a special service.” I say, “Well, you know, if that’s what the Lord’s impressing you with, fine. There’s no Bible commandment. If you want to regard the day do it to the Lord. Don’t do it for Easter bunnies.” Amen? That’s where I apply that. But for someone to take this now and apply it to the commandment about the Sabbath, that is twisting the scriptures to your own destruction. Paul is talking about ceremonial laws and eating things that were sacrificed to idols. It had nothing to do with the Sabbath of the Ten Commandments.

Matter of fact, turn with me to Colossians 2, verse 16, please. This is the golden trophy of people who want to fight the Sabbath truth. Colossians chapter 2, verse 16 and 17, “So let no one judge you in food, or in drink, or regarding a festival, or a new moon, or sabbaths,” small ‘s’, plural, notice, “Which are shadows of things to come; but the substance is of Christ.” Now, people will take that and they’ll close their Bibles and they’ll say, “See Doug, that’s case closed. You’re judging me regarding the Sabbath day when you tell me to keep that commandment. Paul says I don’t need to let anyone judge me regarding that commandment.” They are blinding themselves to the obvious truth that Paul is talking about the ceremonial Sabbath days. Very big distinction. How do I know that? Read what it says just before there. Colossians 2:14, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross.” And if you read Colossians 2:16 and 17 in context he says, “Let no man judge you regarding these Sabbath days which,” it’s not a period, “Sabbath days which are shadows.” You know when the shadows came? After sin entered the world the Lord established these holidays to help them look forward to Christ. The Passover was a shadow of when Jesus would come and by His blood on the door of our hearts make that angel of judgment pass over. The Sabbath in creation was not a shadow of anything. It was part of His perfect plan. There was no sin yet. Do you see what I’m saying? So he says, “Don’t let anyone judge you regarding those Sabbath days which are shadows.” It’s a complete sentence. He identifies these are the ceremonial Sabbaths. So for somebody; you know, whenever you’re studying any issue in scripture look at all the evidence. If you take the weight of evidence that talks about the seventh day Sabbath all the way from Genesis to Revelation: going to keep it in heaven, they kept it in the Old Testament, Adam and Eve kept it in the Garden of Eden, Jesus kept it, Jesus said, “I’ve kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love,” the gospel of John. I could go all the way through. His disciples wouldn’t break it. The idea that it doesn’t matter to Him is a very dangerous theory. And you know what the bottom line is for me? You know what settled it for me, friends? Whenever you’re in doubt about what to do Biblically and you’ve looked at all the evidence, if it’s a very important issue like this, one of God’s commandments; and breaking the commandments is sin. That’s why Seventh day Adventists should never be ashamed of talking about the Sabbath because it’s a very important issue. It’s God’s commandment. It’s as important as the commandment that says don’t commit adultery. Is that important? Or don’t murder. Is that important? And some of us think that we can be careless about the Sabbath because most of the world isn’t’ sure about it anyway. Not on your life, friends. It’s very important to us. And we miss the blessing that God has in it. What settled it for me? Do what Jesus did. You do what Jesus did. First of all, a Christian’s a follower of Christ. You do what Jesus did and you’re safe. Now, did Jesus heal people on the Sabbath? Sure He did. Did He feed people? Did He teach on the Sabbath day? Did He work in the carpentry shop? No. Christ said it’s better to do good on the Sabbath day. And He came, if for no other reason, to liberate the Sabbath from these man-made traditions that had been attached to it. The Sabbath is a day for doing good. It’s not to be a burden. It’s to be a blessing. Amen?

All right. Galatians. How many of you have heard someone try and say, “Well, Galatians tells us not to be under the law. We’re putting the law of bondage on people.” What law is it; first of all, are you aware the word, in the book of Galatians, the word Sabbath does not appear. The closest you get in the book of Galatians is where he says in chapter 4, verse 10 and 11, “You observe days, and months, and seasons, and years. I am afraid for you, lest I laboured for you in vain.” He’s talking about the holidays, the dates and months and seasons and years. Not talking about the Sabbath. When God gave the law it was as loud as it could be. His own finger. Where did I put that? Here it is. You know, I couldn’t find anything better than what I used to use during the Revelation Seminar. A comparison between the moral law of the Ten Commandments and the ceremonial law. And I remembered this and Doug went out last night. The moral law, the Ten Commandments, is called the royal law of liberty, James 2. The ceremonial law is called simply a law contained in ordinances. Sometimes it’s called bondage. The moral law is spoken by God. The ceremonial law was spoken by Moses. The moral law was written by God on stone, His own finger. Ceremonial law written by Moses, put in a book. The Ten Commandments were placed in the ark of the covenant. Ceremonial law was placed in a pocket on the outside of the ark. The moral law is to stand forever, Psalm 111. Ceremonial law ended at the cross, Colossians 2, nailed to the cross. You can’t nail stone to anything, amen? Ceremonial law, or the moral law is called “not grievous.” I John 5:3 says, “his commandments are not grievous.” The ceremonial law is called “contrary to us.” The moral law judges all men, James 2. The ceremonial law judges no man, Colossians 2. The moral law is called spiritual. The ceremonial law is called carnal. The Moral law is called just and holy and good, eternal. Ceremonial law, it says it passed away; it’s a shadow. One came before sin, one came after sin. In heaven it will always still be right to keep the Ten Commandments. Are we going to circumcise in heaven? Let’s hope not. Are we going to have the sacrifice of lambs? No. Are we going to be keeping any of those ceremonial laws? So much of it dealt with blood. No. But, is there going to be murder in heaven? Will there be lying in heaven? Will there be stealing? Or committing adultery? Are we going to still gather before the Lord on the Sabbath day? They’re eternal in their nature. The ceremonial laws all pointed to Christ. When He came they fulfilled their purpose. It took some people longer than others to let them go and that’s why Paul said, “Well, you know, some of you are struggling with that.” And you know, it’s hard when people ?????. Thousands of years, keep those commandments and then all of a sudden he says it doesn’t’ matter.

I was reading in Walter Martin’s book on cults and he struggles to figure out how to explain Adventists and our relationship to the Sabbath. He finally says, “They’re saying they’re saved by grace and yet they’re trying to keep the commandments.” And he misunderstands that. Do we keep the commandments to be saved? Or do we keep the commandments because we are saved? And Jesus said, “If you love me keep my commandments.” I want to read something to you. You know, people will call us a cult sometimes and one of the things that stimulated this series is because people misunderstand. We need to be able to explain what we believe and where we come from. You hear lots of broad, sweeping definitions of a cult. Walter Martin says technically we are not a cult. Want to hear what Janet Reno describes as a cult? Janet Reno, you know who she is? OK, just checking. This is an interview on 60 Minutes June 26, 1994. “A cultist is one who has a strong belief in the Bible and the second coming of Christ. Who frequently attends Bible studies and has a high level of financial giving to a Christian cause. Who home schools their children. Who has accumulated survival foods and has a strong belief in the second amendment.” That’s the right to bear arms, is that right? You’re a cultist if you believe in that, I guess. “And who distrusts big government.” Oh, let’s just check here. How many of you fit into most of these categories here? Believe in the second coming. We used to home school our kids. How many of you distrust big government? “Any of these may qualify a person as a cultist, but certainly more than one of these would cause us to look at this person as a threat and his family being at risk, in a situation that’s qualified for government interference.” That’s a scary statement. A cult, here’s the dictionary definition: “A religious group or sect generally considered to be extremist, obsessive or false with it’s followers often living in unconventional manner under the exclusive guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader.” Now that clarifies things a little bit. Do we follow a person or the Bible? Well, Jesus was pretty charismatic, wasn’t He? So if you want to call followers of Christ a cult then I’m guilty. Because I follow Him and He was a charismatic leader.

Something else Walter Martin said was, “Adventists are trying to put a burden on people by having them keep the Sabbath commandment.” And then he quotes this, notice here. He says in Acts chapter 15, verse 28, “For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay on you no greater burden than these necessary things; That you abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if you keep yourselves, you shall do well. Fare ye well.” Now his suggestion is the only commandments that Gentiles need to worry about are encapsulated in this verse. Anything else you put on people you’re putting a burden on them. And what does he summarize here? “That you abstain from meats offered to idols and from blood.” Well, you know what? A lot of the Protestant world fails that right there. “And from things strangled,” and right there, “and from fornication.” Well, you notice there’s no reference here about idolatry, or rather there is I guess a reference to idols. But there’s no reference here to using God’s name in vain. There’s nothing here that talks about stealing or murder. So if we’re to take this literally that this is all the Gentiles need to worry about right now we’re in big trouble. What was this statement dealing with? There were certain specific issues that they were questioning. The Sabbath was not one of them. Which means that they all understood they were supposed to keep it, along with these other commandments. It was the issue of eating things sacrificed to idols. Some of them were not getting married and having loose lifestyles. And they dealt with these specifics. And he said, “Place no other burden on them.” You know, all you’ve got to do is read Acts chapter 15, verse 10, “Now therefore why do you test God, by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers were able to bear?” He says we’re putting a yoke on them. What was the yoke? “Since we have heard, that some of you who went out from us,” notice here, “have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls,” this is verse 24, “saying, You must be circumcised, and keep the law:” now he says circumcised and keep the law, what law is he talking about? The ceremonial law. When Jesus died on the cross what happened in the temple? Matthew 28. The veil was rent from top to bottom exposing the holy place. And I’ve had people say, “See Doug, the Ten Commandments were in there, the veil was ripped from the top to bottom exposing it saying it’s not sacred anymore.” Were the Ten Commandments in the temple when Jesus died? They’d lost them way back in the time of Jeremiah they’d been hidden by the priests and the Lord. It was the ceremonial system that had been abrogated. Not the Sabbath, not the Ten Commandments. But Jesus dying on the cross was the fulfillment of all those things, all that those things pointed to.

I John 5:3, “For this is the love of God,” my last scripture, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not a burden.” Is the Sabbath meant by God to be a burden or a blessing? And you know, the Lord when He’s chastening us with the Holy Spirit and He’s working with us about keeping His Sabbath day, it’s not because He’s trying to put a burden on us. It’s a day He’s blessed. Jesus came to lift the burdens, to give us rest. He says, “I will share your burdens. Take my yoke on you.” I do believe we’re supposed to keep the letter of the law and the spirit. And the spirit of the law is Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” You know, Jesus wants to lift our burdens. And when we come to Him the devil, Satan like the Pharaoh, he wants to get you working making bricks without straw so life passes you by and you don’t have that quality relationship with God. If you want to be saved you need to know God. Do we all agree? If you want to obey God you must first love God. You cannot know God, you cannot love God unless you are taking quality time with God. Not only on the blessed Sabbath, but in your personal devotions. And when you spend that time with Him you’ll know how much He loves you and what He did to take away your burden.

If you’d like to accept the blessings and lay down your burdens, please turn to our closing hymn, 476, Burdens are Lifted at Calvary. Let’s stand together as we sing and let’s sing enthusiastically. Amen?


You know, a message about the Sabbath is a message about Jesus. Jesus in His person encapsulates that rest spoken of in Hebrews that we receive by coming to the foot of the cross. Some of you may have your burdens still. Some of you maybe have not made decisions to surrender those burdens to Jesus. Some of you may still have troubles and cares and others a burden of sin. As we’re singing the second verse if you would like to lay your burdens down, whatever they are, we’d like to invite you to come to the front. Symbolically that could be your way of letting your burdens go. And accepting the rest that comes when you yoke up with Jesus. If that’s your desire come as we sing the second verse we’ll pray with you.

You know, here at Central its’ our custom every week to give people an opportunity to respond to the proclamation of the word. Some of you maybe who are members have begun to just look upon this as part of the service and you’ve been bearing your burdens waiting for an opportunity to go somewhere and to lay them down. You can do it now. Some of us still are wrestling with our preparation for Jesus’ coming. Well you know, that happens by coming just as I am, just as you are to Christ and laying your burdens down at the cross. Experiencing that peace and that rest in your souls of knowing that you have eternal life and that He will give you strength to bear your burdens. So if you are looking for an opportunity, if the Holy Spirit is working on your heart, come now as we sing the last verse. We’d like to pray with you.

I’d like to invite those who have responded to move a little forward. I want you to come on down. Don’t want anyone hanging on the outskirts of the camp, so to speak. Some of you who have heard the message today, I hope you’ll take these things to heart and utilize these principles to share your faith with others. I don’t think Seventh-day Adventists should just be a church with our beliefs that should meekly respect everyone else and not feel a burden to share the truth. This is an important issue. It’s one of God’s commandments. And Jesus said blessed are those who do and teach His law. There’ll be a blessing on you. Great are they in the kingdom of God. Don’t ever be embarrassed, don’t ever be apologetic about who we are and what we believe. It’s the truth, friends. You’ve got to support a scripture behind it. Some of you today may have a variety of needs and you feel timid about coming down. You may need to perhaps be baptized and accept Jesus.

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