Monday, April 23, 2018

The Sabbath Debate: My Review Part IV

Before we get into this post, let's first review the most important things in the first three commentaries of the debate:

1) Jesus kept several Sabbaths that occurred on Sunday. Days of holy convocations/sacred assemblies and a mandatory rest (Sabbath) could occur on the first day of the week as well as the seventh. Therefore, if God commanded a Sabbath to occur on Sunday and Jesus kept it, it can never be wrong to attend Sunday services. Going to church on Sunday will never be evil nor will it be the reason we receive the Mark of the Beast.

2) Jesus attended the synagogue, not the Temple on most weekly Sabbaths. The Temple was for worship, the synagogue (in Jesus day) was for study. It would be equivalent to saying Jesus attended Sabbath School but He did not attend the public worship service on the seventh day. This is a very important distinction because God mandated that worship occur only and exclusively in His presence at the Temple in Jerusalem. No where else. So when Adventists bring up that Jesus attended the synagogue on Sabbath, they are saying the very opposite of what they assume they are saying. They are actually saying that Jesus did not attend worship at the Temple on Sabbaths. He attended a study group at the synagogues.

Now to more of Doug Batchelor's points about the Sabbath:


Doug Batchelor made the comment that if the Sabbath was exclusive for Israel God should have made that clear, "It would have been so easy for God to say Jewish Sabbath."

Mr. Batchelor must have missed when Mr. Gregg pointed out that God specifically did say that the Sabbath was for Israel. In Deuteronomy 5 God says that He did not make the covenant (including the Ten Commandments) with anyone previous, but only with the people at that time. In the repeat of the Sabbath commandment (vs. 12-15) we also read that Israel was given the holy Sabbath because God brought them out of Egypt. He only brought the nation of Israel out of Egypt and none other. So we can know that the Sabbath commandment was exclusively for Israel. And God clearly said in the New Testament that the old covenant ended with John the Baptist and Jesus brought in a new and better covenant with better laws!

See Matthew 12, Mark 2, Luke 6
At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.” He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?  He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here….For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12: 1-8
Pastor Batchelor brought up Jesus' words that "The Sabbath was made for mankind" as if Jesus was declaring that the Sabbath was not exclusive for the Jews—but for everyone. However, Gregg made an excellent rebuttal about how the Adventists take that passage out of context and read much more into it than Jesus intended. If the context was taken into consideration, Gregg points out that the question under discussion was not if the Sabbath was universal but if one could do good on the Sabbath. Jesus was clearly saying that mankind was not under the lordship of the Sabbath, but that God gave the Sabbath for them. "Man" was referring to Israel, not everyone. Jesus was explaining the authority of the Sabbath was not as powerful as man's authority. 


Pastor Batchelor claimed that if Jesus broke the Sabbath that He could not be our Savior because it would then make Him a sinner.

What? That is exactly, exactly what the Pharisees were saying about Jesus. The passage was placed in scripture by the Apostle Matthew for this very point. 

Jesus claims that He could break the Sabbath without sinning. Adventists place themselves in the position of the Pharisees by claiming Jesus could not break the Sabbath. Yes He could, Jesus claimed, because of who He was!

If Adventists would listen closely to the words of Christ, "I tell you that something greater than the temple is here," they would see that Jesus was declaring Himself above the Sabbath laws! Not simply that—but that He was a king and a priest because He could eat while for others some food was not lawful. He points out that He can desecrate the Sabbath and is innocent. However it seems that Adventists are so eager to protect the Sabbath in these passages that they do not see what Christ is saying! Christ is claiming to be above the laws! He is saying that He is a priest and king! And not only Himself, but His Apostles too were also priests because Jesus was allowing them to break the Sabbath and be innocent. This is a major proclamation of who He is and that He was establishing the Kingdom at that moment. He was priest king in the line of King David and His Apostles were His priests! The Sabbath was not the point.


Pastor Batchelor continually creates a straw man argument with his opponents. I believe this is because he went from being non-religious to a Seventh-day Adventists without really understanding all other Christian perspectives. He erroneously assumes when non-sabbatarians claim that the Sabbath was fulfilled in Christ that we mean the law was destroyed. That is an inaccurate and frankly unfair assumption. The vast majority of Christians understand that when Jesus says He fulfilled the Messianic prophecies given by the prophets, He isn't destroying the prophecies. That would be ludicrous. That would be like a medical student attending medical school to destroy the requirements of becoming a physician. They are not there to destroy but to fulfill!

I appreciated Mr. Greggs response. The new laws, look similar to the old just like a man looks similar to the boy, but they are not the same. The grown man fulfills the boy but doesn't destroy him.

Jesus completed, accomplished the prophecies! By finishing and being the end to which the prophecies pointed, Jesus was not destroying the law and prophets.

Pastor Batchelor asks, "Is it okay to break a commandment?"
Just like it was wrong for Israelites to break their laws, it is wrong for Christians to break the commandments of Christ. 

Sin takes over us-- like drugs can make men addicts. When a person fulfills the requirements of rehab, they are not then free to go out and take drugs again! Heaven forbid. No, he has fulfilled the rehab requirements and enters the world of freedom! We are set free from the law because through God's grace in the New Covenant, we are set free from sin! Through the power of the Cross and through God's grace we can overcome sins now that we were unable to conquer before the New Covenant.
So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. Romans 7: 4-6


The old covenant law ended with John the Baptist.
What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgression, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made. Galatians 3: 19
For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John came. Matthew 11: 13
The law and the prophets were in effect until John came; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is proclaimed. Luke 16: 6
Before Faith Came we were under the law the law was the tutor to bring us to Christ that we may be justified by faith. After faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. Galatians 3: 23-25
Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. Romans 10:4

God gave the Old Covenant (including the Ten Commandments) on top of Mt. Sinai, Jesus gave the New Covenant on the top of the Mount of Olives. Please read Matthew 5-6 and you will see that Jesus took authority over the Ten Commandments and made them better! He said "You have heard that you shall not kill" (Ten Commandments) but I say… Those words, "but I say" are vital to understanding that Jesus was taking the Old and making it better and new. Jesus said it is no longer good enough to simply refrain from killing, you are not even to hate anyone.

The Ten Commandments are part of the Old Covenant but their spirit lives on in the New.

I think it is easily understood when we look at the Magna Carta vs. the Constitution. The Magna Carta was a English document giving Englishmen some rights under the law. Some of those rights are the same ones in our United States Constitution, in fact the Founding Fathers based some of the Constitution on the Magna Carta, but they are not the same document. They are similar, but when we are in a court of law defending our U. S. rights we do not cite the Magna Carta as our legal authority, we cite the Constitution.

The Old Covenant had some parts of it based in Natural Law (universal moral codes). The New Covenant also draws from Natural Law. But Jesus said that the New Covenant is better!

At the Mount of Olives, Jesus became the new law giver. And all the old, obsolete laws that pointed to Christ were fulfilled and a new covenant with new laws began.
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, Hebrews 1: 1, 2
But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs [Israel] as the covenant of which He is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to My covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord… By calling this covenant “new,” He has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear. Hebrews 8: 6-13
You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts… He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 2 Cor. 3: 3-8
If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also….You [Jesus] are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God…Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant. Hebrews 7:11-22 

The Ten Commandments were replaced by better Commandments. And at the end of Jesus ministry it was made clear by God's voice from heaven.

In Mark 9, Jesus is with Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration and Moses and Elijah appear there before them. Peter asks Christ if he should build three tabernacles (shrines for the law) one for Moses (law giver—Ten Commandments), one for Elijah, the prophet and one for Jesus. Then, suddenly a cloud covered the top of the mountain and the three disciples saw only Jesus. God spoke, "This is my beloved Son, listen to Him."

God tells us right there that no longer are we to listen to the old law and the prophets for everything they taught from the tiniest tittle to the greatest law was to point us to Christ. After Christ a New Covenant was established. A covenant that required a holiness so much more perfect than the Ten Commandments could ever provide. Now we are told we must be merciful. That is was nowhere in the Ten. The Ten were lacking, and now God gives us better commandments. Now we must love our enemies. Now we are to forgive. Pride has become the greatest sin and that is not even mentioned in the Ten.

And Sabbath. Just as each of the Ten were made better in the New Covenant, the Sabbath commandments is now about our spiritual rest in Christ. "Come unto me, " Jesus siad, "All you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The Old Covenant shadow of the Sabbath is now an every day, every hour, every minute rest in Christ. The Sabbath is better now.

Jesus gave us better commandments.

1 comment:

Mrs. Cote said...

Very beautifully written. As a former Adventist, who still sometimes struggles, this was very helpful to me. I didn't leave Adventism because of the Sabbath but because of their view of the dead contradicting the teaching of Christ. It was, and is still sometimes, very hard because there are so many beautiful people in Adventism. The funny thing is though is that many, many of the best bits are mirrored in Catholicism!