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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney

#921. Do Christians have a Sabbath? (17/10/21)

This week, as continue in our series, Luke - Exploring who Jesus is, we are considering what the Sabbath means for Christians. Today, we will look at whether or not Christians are to keep the Sabbath.

‘One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”’ (Luke 6:1-2)

Lesson: The Christian Sabbath is our rest in Christ.


You can listen to this devotional at:

I wonder how you would answer the question: Do you keep the Sabbath holy? This is a question that we should all be able to answer, bearing in mind that it’s the fourth of the Ten Commandments and was a vital feature of being God’s people in the Old Testament! However, I imagine that you may well be unsure as to how to answer this question!


The Westminster Shorter Catechism answers the question like this:

‘Q. 60. How is the sabbath to be sanctified? A. The sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God's worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.’

Of course, one is free to think in this way, and people do have differences of opinion. However, I think that simply moving the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday and doing Christian acts of worship is not, I believe, God’s will for Christians.


How do Christians keep the Sabbath?

All of the Old Testament is God’s Word, so its teaching on the Sabbath, or anything else, cannot simply be nullified. As we saw last week in Luke 5, 'new wine must be poured into new wineskins.' Jesus has brought in a new era (analogous to new wine, new cloth, and new wineskins). In this 'New Covenant' era, we have to apply the Old Testament in light of Jesus’ work on the cross, and this has a great bearing regarding the Sabbath.


The Christian Sabbath, put very briefly, is not moving it from Saturday to Sunday, but it’s our resting in Christ. The Sabbath day was a foreshadowing of our rest in Christ. This kind of thinking is displayed in texts like Colossians 2:

‘Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.’ (Colossians 2:16-17)

Sabbath for us has nothing to do with any days, but it’s to do with our being justified in Christ! Sorry if it goes against your traditions, but you will find no re-application of the Sabbath in the New Testament except in this fashion! The author to the Hebrews states it:

‘Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it…Now we who have believed enter that rest…There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.’ (Hebrews 4:1,3, 9-10)

Response

The Christian Sabbath is our rest in Christ. Have you entered the rest that Jesus gives to us? Are you living in the joy and peace of the free gift of righteousness that are ours in Christ? In the Old Testament the consequence of breaking the Sabbath was death, and do we see that refusing to rest in Christ is also death! As the author to the Hebrews urges us, 'let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it!'

 

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY


1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.


2. Icebreaker How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you?


3. Study and pray together

This week we continued in our Luke series looking at Luke 6:1-11.


Please read Luke 6:1-11.


At the end of chapter 5, Jesus gave a parable about 'new cloth', 'new wine' and 'new wineskins'. This parable was given to teach that we are in a new era - a New Covenant. In this era - after the death and resurrection of Jesus - we have to learn to handle the Old Testament and The Sabbath in a new way.

In essence, for Christians, rather than keeping a day holy, we understand that the Sabbath was pointing our our rest in Christ. The author to the Hebrews writes:

‘Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it…Now we who have believed enter that rest…There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.’ (Hebrews 4:1,3, 9-10)

Discussion and prayer

  • What were the religious leaders so upset about?

  • What do these two Sabbath day accounts teach us about what it was permissible to do on the Sabbath?

  • What was meant by Jesus' words: “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."?

  • How are Christians to rest in Christ (See Hebrews 4:1)?

  • How are we to 'do good' and 'save life' (See v.9)?

  • How would a true keeping of the Sabbath help to glorify Jesus in our community?

  • Do you have any encouraging stories of how you've been serving, investing and inviting?

  • Let's pray for ourselves and our community together. Let's pray for the particular people that God is putting on your heart. Lets pray for the Holy Spirit to empower and direct us in how to Serve, invest and invite.

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