Copyright 2005 Seventh Day Baptist General Conference
Post Office Box 1678
Janesville, WI 53547
Seventh Day Baptists are Baptists who remember to keep the seventh
day Sabbath holy. We are a Baptist church that is a little different.
The Sabbath and Creation
The essence of Christianity is people being brought into right
relationship with God. In fact, God created humans, as male and
female, in order to enjoy a loving relationship with Him. God created
people (Genesis 1:27) and then created the Sabbath (Genesis 2:1-4) as
that period of time in which God could have our undivided attention.
The Sabbath is God's gift of time for the benefit of humankind.
God created the heavens and the earth. Though the creation of the
heavens and earth was complete on the sixth day of creation, there
was one thing yet to be created, the Sabbath.
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their vast
array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been
doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God
blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because in it he rested
from all the work of creating that he had done (Genesis 2:1-3).
The story of God's creation of the Sabbath (Genesis 2:2,3) tells us
three things that God did with the seventh day, Sabbath. (Though the
word "Sabbath" does not appear in the creation story in
Genesis, it is clear that the Sabbath was established.
1. God rested on the seventh day, Sabbath.
2. God blessed the seventh day, Sabbath.
3. God sanctified or made holy the seventh day, Sabbath.
God did more than merely rest on that first Sabbath. "God
blessed the seventh day and sanctified it" (Genesis 2:3). This
was God's final act in His creation week. He took the last day
(seventh day) of the creation week and set it apart as a special day
by blessing it. The Sabbath is a part of the creation order, and it
has its origins there. In the beginning, God created the heavens, the
earth, man, and the seventh day Sabbath.
Creation and the Law
God so desired that His people know Him that He revealed to them part
of His character, known as the Law or Ten Commandments. These ten
words of law were God's desire for the Children of Israel and for all humankind.
The fourth of these Commandments points back to creation as the
origin of the Sabbath. God commands people to keep the Sabbath
because He, Himself kept the Sabbath at creation. God blessed the
Sabbath and made it holy by setting the example for all mankind to
rest on that day.
"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall
labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the
Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you nor your
son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your
animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord
made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but
he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath
day and made it holy" (Exodus 20:8-11).
God's prescription regarding the Sabbath is rather specific. God said
that we should rest and remember - not one day a week - but a
specific day of the week, the seventh day. God specifically said that
the "seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord thy God" (Exodus
20:10). The seventh day Sabbath belongs to God. People can do what
they wish on the first day of the week (Sunday) but it is the seventh
day Sabbath which is the Lord's day according to Exodus 20:10.
We see from Exodus 20:11 that the foundation of the fourth
commandment is God's act of creation, "in the beginning."
The Sabbath is not based merely on God's relationship to the Jews,
but it is based on His relationship to all of creation. There are
five things to emphasize in the Fourth Commandment.
1. God tells us that the seventh day is the Sabbath. 2. God commands
us to remember the Sabbath day. 3. God commands us to keep the
Sabbath holy. 4. God commands us to rest on the Sabbath. 5.
"Sabbath to the Lord" is a day dedicated to Him.
Why are we to keep the Sabbath holy? The Fourth Commandment goes on
to tell us why.
"For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the
sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.
Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."
We are to keep the Sabbath holy and rest, because God kept the
Sabbath holy and rested on that day. The Sabbath is holy because God
"made it holy" at creation. We are to rest on the Sabbath
because God set the example for Sabbath rest at creation.
Jesus and the Sabbath
The Ten Commandments are an expression of Godís very nature
and will, which is unchangeable. Jesus Christ did not come to change
even the smallest portion of the moral law (Matthew 5:17,18). Some
say that Christ changed the Sabbath from the seventh day of the week
to the first day of the week. That would require a change in the law.
The moral law says that "the seventh day is the Sabbath"
and not the first day of the week. In no place does the Bible tell us
of this change in the law from the seventh to the first day of the week.
The Sabbath was the commandment most corrupted by the Pharisees. So,
it is not surprising that it was over Sabbath-keeping that Jesus
would have most of his conflict with the Pharisees. The Sabbath issue
between Christ and the Pharisees is never over which day to worship
or over whether the Sabbath was still part of God's desire for man.
The issue for Christ was the way in which the Sabbath was being kept
and the Phariseesí attitude toward the Sabbath.
The most powerful statement regarding Christ's commitment to the
Sabbath is found in Mark 2:27 and 28. "And he was saying to
them, The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.
Therefore the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.'" The
climax of Jesus' statement comes when he says that he is Lord of the
Sabbath day. This means that Jesus has the authority over all the
circumstances regarding the Sabbath. Christians should be taught that
Jesus Christ can arrange circumstances in order to provide for people
the opportunity to keep the seventh day Sabbath holy. God wants our
undivided attention on the seventh day Sabbath, and He will use the
resources of His kingdom to make this possible.
The story of creation in Genesis gives the origin of the Sabbath but
it does not give the reason for God's creation of the Sabbath.
However, a clue to the purpose of the Sabbath is given in the fact
that the Sabbath was created right after man's creation. Perhaps the
Sabbath was created by God with man in mind.
The fact that the Sabbath was made for man is stated clearly by Jesus
Christ, the Creator of the Sabbath. "The Sabbath was made for
man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27). Here Jesus is
addressing the Pharisees who are condemning Him for breaking the
Pharisaic rules regarding the Sabbath. There are four things which
can be learned from this message from the mouth of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
First, the Sabbath was made. This is a clear reference back to
Genesis 2 showing that the Sabbath was a part of the perfect creation
order. The Sabbath existed from the very beginning as the final part
of God's creation. This reference would also serve as a reminder to
the Pharisees that the Sabbath was created by God and not by them.
Second, the Sabbath was made for man. Right after the creation of
man, God made the Sabbath. (See Genesis 1 and 2.) Jesus, the Creator
of the Sabbath, says that the Sabbath was created with all mankind in
mind. The Sabbath does not have its origins in the Law. Its origins
go back to creation. The Sabbath was not a Jewish Sabbath alone,
because "the Sabbath was made for man" and not for just the
Jews. When the Sabbath was created in the beginning there were no
Jews. This is the clear message of Jesus in this New Testament text.
Third, "the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the
Sabbath." At the time of Jesus, the Pharisees had lost the
meaning of the Sabbath. God had created the Sabbath for man's
benefit, but the Pharisees had reversed the meaning. For the
Pharisees, the Sabbath was more important than man, and they believed
that God had created man to keep the Sabbath.
Fourth, "the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath," means
that Jesus Christ was and is the one who is in authority over the
Sabbath. There would be no need for him to declare his Lordship if he
planned to abolish it in the near future with his death. But because
he is Lord of the Sabbath, he can and will bring all of his resourses
to bear to empower us and to work our circumstances so that we can
keep his day holy.
The Sabbath was created for our benefit. Jesus' life, death, and
ministry did not change the original meaning and purpose of the
Sabbath. But Jesus did attack the Pharisees for the way they had
changed the original meaning and purpose of God's holy day.
Jesus Christ Kept the Sabbath
In every area of life, we look to Christ as our supreme example. We
believe in baptism because of the example of Christ and the apostles
and the command of God. And so it is with the Sabbath. We have the
example of Christ and the apostles and the Ten Commandments of God
written on the tables of stone and on our hearts. And yet, the
majority of Christianity has chosen the tradition of man.
"He (Jesus) went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and
on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And
he stood up to read" (Luke 4:16). The word of God tells that
Jesus was a Sabbathkeeper. It was the Son of God who blessed and
sanctified the Sabbath at creation by resting. This rest was the
first example that Adam and Eve had in the Garden. When the Son of
God became flesh, he once again set the example for Sabbathkeeping.
Luke, Paul, and the Sabbath
Luke's gospel was written to a gentile (Theophilus) no earlier than
60 AD, which is many years after the death and resurrection of Jesus
Christ. In Luke 23:56, we read that the women "...prepared
spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to
Some would say that the women simply had not yet been told by Jesus
that the Sabbath was abolished. But remember, Luke is writing this
several decades after the death and resurrection of Christ. He in no
way qualifies the fourth commandment being kept by the women as
something that was "done away with" or something that is
"Jewish" or "passed away." Luke simply describes
their Sabbathkeeping as something "in obedience to the
commandment." Apparently Luke, the writer of the gospel, felt
that the Sabbath was still one of the commandments of God at the time
he wrote it.
The Book of Acts, also written by Luke, is a history of the early
church right after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is no
mention of a change in the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first
day of the week. In fact, throughout the Book of Acts the seventh day
of the week is given the title of "Sabbath." If the first
day of the week was changed to the "Lord's Day," why is the
title "Lord's Day" not mentioned in this earliest history
of the church?
When the Apostle Paul was in Corinth he went to the synagogue every
Sabbath. This was in spite of the fact that he was trying to reach
both Jews and Greeks. "Every Sabbath he reasoned in the
synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks" (Acts 18:4). We
have set before us the clear example of Christ and the example of Paul.
Salvation is by Grace Through Faith
Seventh Day Baptists believe that the Sabbath is important to God and
to people. However, we also believe that we are not saved by
observing the Sabbath. In fact, we are not saved by keeping any of
the Ten Commandments. The Apostle Paul says, "no one will be
declared righteous in his sight by observing the law" (Romans 3:20).
Seventh Day Baptists believe that we are saved because "God so
loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son" (John
3:16). Jesus Christ came to earth to die and shed His blood so that
people could be saved. Only those who surrender their lives to Jesus
Christ will be saved.
Love is the Reason to Observe the Sabbath
Though we are not saved by observing the Sabbath, we keep the Sabbath
because we love the Lord. Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my
commandments" (John 14:15). Love is the reason we keep the
Sabbath holy and obey all of the Ten Commandments. We also keep the
Sabbath holy because we believe Jesus when He tells us that "the
Sabbath was made for man." We believe that the Sabbath was given
for man's benefit. The Sabbath truly is a gift of time for our benefit.
Our Freedom in Christ
"It is for freedom that Christ set us free" (Galatians
5:1). The Sabbath is designed as a day of freedom. Jesus is in the
business of setting people free from anything that is a barrier to
intimate fellowship with Him. If God commanded us to keep the Sabbath
day holy by resting, He would have to be in charge of all the
circumstances that could keep us from obeying His command. That is
why God has set his Son in charge of the Sabbath as "Lord of the
Sabbath." Now we can be set free from all the labor and work of
the Sabbath and be able to give God our undivided attention on His day.
It is on the Sabbath that we are set free from work and the guilt of
spending twenty-four hours in rest and service. Could this be
possible on any other day? Perhaps, but God has not committed Himself
and all the resources of the Kingdom to setting us free from work on
any day but the seventh day Sabbath. It is only by faith that we can
accept these resources which set us free from Sabbath work. This
faith can only be built upon a relationship with the Son of Man, who
is Lord even of the Sabbath day. God provides all of these resources
to set us free to give Him our undivided attention for twenty-four
hours a week. Of course, God wants our attention every day of the
week. But because God wants our undivided attention on the seventh
day Sabbath, He sets us free from the work of the world. God does all
this for us because He loves us and He knows that we need it. And we
keep His Sabbath holy by spending time with Him because we love Him.
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