Is the Sabbath the Goal or a Means to the Goal?

DTTFL

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

More than a couple of times in my life, I have heard someone say, “My friend just accepted Jesus as their Savior. Now all we have to do is teach them about the Sabbath!” Whether they mean to or not, they are making it sound like the Sabbath is the goal. God’s love is the goal. The Sabbath is not the goal. It is the means to the goal. The Sabbath is designed to help us see God’s love so that we are led to Jesus Who is the goal.

With this thought in mind, I would like to share a study from the “In Light Of The Cross Bible Study Guides,” which I prepared so that people can see our sacred truths in the light of God’s love as opposed to the legalistic view we are often accused of.

The Sabbath In Light of The Cross New England Churches 074

Brief overview: The seventh day of the week, Saturday, is God’s holy Sabbath on which we are to rest from all secular work and activity. God sanctified the Sabbath day and made it holy. See Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus, 20:8-11, Exodus 31:13, John 14:15,Revelation 14:12

Why it is important to understand the truth about the Sabbath:

The Sabbath is the only commandment that begins with “remember” while it is also the one commandment man has forgotten. While many agnostics believe that God created us and then left us on our own, the Sabbath tells us that our Creator wants to have a relationship with us. The Sabbath also tells us who our God is. You can keep the other nine commandments and worship any god you choose. You can have no other gods before you besides television and not bow to any other god than television and so forth. The Sabbath commandment is the only commandment that tells us who the Lord is. He is the Creator. This is why Satan wants us to forget this commandment. He wants us to forget God. He wants to be our god instead!

The Sabbath is a sign that we belong to the true God, the one who created us and died for us.

Why it is important to understand the Sabbath in light of the cross:

Satan does not want us to forget the Sabbath in order for us to forget the law. Satan knows we are not saved by the works of the law but by grace. The Sabbath is a sign of God’s grace. We do no work on that day, demonstrating that it is not our works that sustain or save us but rather God’s work, both at creation and the cross, that sustain and save us. We rest on the Sabbath, showing that we are resting our faith in the only One who can save us, Jesus Christ. I can imagine God walking with Adam and Eve through the garden, as He showed them all He had made for them, and the wonders of not their works but His works. Adam and Eve realized that day with God, “it is] He [that] hath made us, and not we ourselves.” (Psalms 100:3) Before and after the cross, the Sabbath is a sign that it is God’s work that creates and sustains us.

The Sabbath commandment reminds us that God is our Creator and we refrain from work and worldly activities on the Sabbath day as we rest our faith in God’s power to save and provide for us, instead of our own works and ability to do business and make money.

The same principle is seen in the story of Cain and Abel. In Genesis 4 we read about Abel worshiping the way God had commanded in bringing a lamb as a sacrifice. God accepted Abel’s sacrifice because the lamb God instructed him to bring pointed to Jesus – the Lamb of God who would be sacrificed for our sins. Abel, beyond just worshiping as God had instructed, was saying he trusted in Jesus to save him, rather than his own works. He was looking to the cross. Cain’s sacrifice was refused because he did not worship the way God had instructed, and he brought his own fruit, the work of his own hands. God cannot accept our works and could not accept Cain’s works either. Only the Christ can save us.

Today, many people like Cain, try to be saved by worshiping their own way. Jesus says about them, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). Our own works and man-made ways of worship will never save us.

There’s a story of a little boy years ago who had built his own wooden sailboat. After tying it to a string he set the boat out to sail in a nearby creek, and then would use the string to reel it back in. One day the string broke and the little boat fell victim to the rapids and sailed away. Several days later the boy was window shopping downtown when he saw his boat in a toy store window. He went inside told the owner, “That’s my boat in the window.” The owner of the store, not sure if he should believe the young lad, told the boy he would have to purchase the boat if he wants it back.

The boy did chores around the home and neighborhood to earn the few dollars the boat cost. He returned to the store and purchased his own boat. Walking home, holding his boat close to his chest he was overheard saying, “Little boat, you are twice mine. First I made you, and then I bought you.” That is what Jesus is telling us through the Sabbath today. As we rest from our works on the Sabbath and put our faith in Him, He tells us, “You are twice mine. First, at creation I made you, and then at the cross I bought you.”

No wonder why Ellen White wrote,

The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary. I present before you the great, grand monument of mercy and regeneration, salvation and redemption–the Son of God uplifted on the cross. This is to be the foundation of every discourse given by our ministers.–Gospel Workers, p. 315. 

Click here for further studies on love and obedience, the law and the Sabbath.

Click here to study this week’s Sabbath School lesson.

What Does it Mean To Live Like A Seventh-day Adventist?

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

This week’s SS lesson asks, “What does it mean to “live like an Adventist?” Here is what inspiration tells us about this name.

“No name which we can take will be appropriate but that which accords with our profession and expresses our faith and marks us a peculiar people. The name Seventh-day Adventist is a standing rebuke to the Protestant world. Here is the line of distinction between the worshipers of God and those who worship the beast and receive his mark. The great conflict is between the commandments of God and the requirements of the beast. It is because the saints are keeping all ten of the commandments that the dragon makes war upon them. If they will lower the standard and yield the peculiarities of their faith, the dragon will be at peace; but they excite his ire because they have dared to raise the standard and unfurl their banner in opposition to the Protestant world, who are worshiping the institution of papacy. The name Seventh-day Adventist carries the true features of our faith in front, and will convict the inquiring mind. Like an arrow from the Lord’s quiver, it will wound the transgressors of God’s law, and will lead to repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. {1Testimonies, p. 224.1}

The “Seventh-day” part of our name is very important because it identifies us as a people who are resting our faith in Jesus as our sole hope of salvation. It is only Jesus who can save us so we rest from our works and observe God’s grace on the Sabbath that He is Lord of (Mark 2:27-28). Remember you can keep the other nine commandments and worship any God you choose. The Sabbath Commandment reminds us Who God is. By observing the Seventh-day Sabbath we show that we want to follow our only example, Jesus Christ, in observing the day that he taught us to observe by example (Luke 4:16). Often we abbreviate the name to just “Adventist” because it is shorter, but I think we rob the world of a wonderful witness and testimony of God’s saving grace and rest from works and legalism when we do this. Satan wants us to forget that Sabbath commandment, and he wants us to forget the “Seventh-day” in our name because both point to God’s saving grace apart from works.

The Adventist part is special too. A true Adventist does not just believe Jesus is coming again, but loves His appearing! We are a people in love with Jesus and want to be with Him. We have a hope for a hurting world that is out of this world. Our name is a beacon of hope, pointing them to the rest that is in Jesus and the hope of His soon return.

Being a Seventh-day Adventist means to live like you are leaving. Living like a Seventh-day Adventist is also about living closer to Jesus in the here and now. This is where our health message comes in. While the December 2005 issue of National Geographic, mentioned that Seventh-day Adventists live on average eight years longer, what the health message is really about is not so much living longer, but living closer to Jesus. Now being a veggie-link eating Adventist will not make you holy. However, eating and drinking healthy, not only makes you physically healthy, but also clears the mind for the Holy Spirit to make greater impressions. When on the cross, Jesus was offered wine to drink (Mark 15:23), and if the health message were only about living longer, Jesus might as well have gone ahead and drunk the wine. He was dying soon anyway. But Jesus was on a mission, and He needed his mind to be clear and focused on His mission. This is why he refused the wine. In the Old Testament priests were especially forbidden to drink wine (See Leviticus 10:9), and the New Testament teaches the priesthood of all believers. (See 1 peter 2:5,9) Therefore as a part of the priesthood, we all are on a sacred mission and should treat our bodies as the temple of the God. Healthy bodies lead to healthy minds, which should lead to healthier decisions.

Speaking of priests and the sanctuary, in the sanctuary service the priests wore jewels on their uniforms “for glory and for beauty“ (Exodus 28:2). In the Bible we read again and again that all glory belongs to God for glory is His character. So the priests officiating in the sanctuary wore jewelry because they were to represent God’s character to the people. The jewelry represented God’s glory and character, which is perfection.

Since we have not reached perfection of character, I believe we are not worthy to wear the jewels. However, just like the prodigal son, when we go home with Jesus, He will give us the jewels to wear (James 1:12, Revelation 2:10). And just as the prodigal son did not place the jewelry on himself but let his father do it, we are not to place the jewels on ourselves. But when we get home, our Father will give us the jewelry to wear.  And even then we will cast our crowns of jewels at His feet because we will feel unworthy to wear them! If we will feel unworthy to wear jewelry in heaven after our characters have been perfected, why would we want to wear it now in our sinful condition?

Now before we  start pointing fingers, let’s keep in mind that the problem with jewelry is pride. For too long, Seventh-day Adventists have told people to take off their jewelry but not get rid of their pride. So the pride just showed up in other places, like expensive cars or watches. Some Adventists are proud that they don’t wear jewelry, and that is still pride! So why is it wrong for a young woman to wear a nice set or earrings, but okay for the rich elder to make sure everyone saw the hundred-dollar bill he causally tossed in the offering plate? Both can be a sign of pride. And yet we cannot judge the wearers of jewelry, because we cannot judge hearts.

To live like a Seventh-day Adventist means keeping our eyes on Jesus and not people. This means we neither imitate or judge our brothers or sisters. Living like a Seventh-day Adventist means having a balanced work week which also includes a Sabbath rest. It means to live practical lives day to day, while keeping in mind that Jesus is coming and this world is not our home. It means having a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, so that we live closer to Jesus and not just longer. Our only glory is in the cross, and not in what we wear or don’t wear.

As Seventh-day Adventists, we believe our salvation in Jesus alone, and we demonstrate that by seeking to follow Jesus’ example of holiness and humbleness.