Author: Lawrence D. Pruitt
An advocate of the observance of the Old Testament seventh-day Jewish sabbath has advised us to “throw away Sunday-keeping entirely,” evidently referring to the special observance of Sunday as a day of worship, or holy living.
We can only appeal to the New Testament as our source of authority and discipline in this present dispensation. As to the command of living holy, the New Testament does not exalt one day above another, neither does it command us to reserve any certain day for rest or worship. However, just as Jesus, and the disciples with Him, preached in the synagogues on the seventh-day sabbath, as was His “custom” (Luke 4:16), even so we follow the “custom” of the disciples after Christ’s death when they met together in worship on the first day, which was in commemoration of Christ’s resurrection on the first day of the week. Read Mark 16:9 and John 20:20. This day has become universally observed. On the other hand, we notice that there is no record in the New Testament of a Christian church meeting together for divine worship on the seventh day.
Even though the law of Moses was abolished at Christ’s death, the Jewish converts were slow to forsake the ceremonial observances of the same, such as keeping of the sabbath, eating of meats, refusing to eat with Gentiles, circumcision etc. Therefore Paul was inclined to bear with them when he says: “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.” (Rom. 14:1-2). The one who can eat “all things” is the strong man and the one who can only eat herbs is “weak.” Paul goes on to say, “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” He knew that under the gospel there was no difference in the days themselves, but that those who were strong in this truth ought to bear with the “weak” one who was still observing the days of the law. However, we notice that the Galatian church, who had forsaken the old law, was “bewitched” by certain law teachers who had come in during Paul’s absence and persuaded them to “turn again” to the observance of days, so he wrote to them in this manner: “Are ye so foolish?” “Ye observe days [sabbath days], and months [new moons], and times [annual feasts], and years [sabbatical years]. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.” Gal. 4:10-11. If we are obliged to observe the seventh-day then is it not true that all the law is binding upon us?
The Ten Commandments contain both moral and ceremonial laws. Moral laws are those binding upon all men at all times, and are inherent from their own nature. Those which have to be established by command are ceremonial laws. The keeping of the sabbath was a ceremonial law. The command said to “keep the sabbath day holy.” Ceremonial holiness could not affect the moral character or quality of anything, but only a change of its use. Inanimate objects are not capable of moral change. The day was not morally unholy in the first place, so could not be made morally holy. Its character was not changed from that of any other day, but only its use-therefore ceremonial holiness. Apostle Paul asserts that the ceremonial observance of the law was abolished at the cross “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 his cross;” Col. 2:14.
We shall show further that the sabbath day was “a shadow of good things to come,” (Col. 2:17) even as the other observances served a distinct purpose. The sabbath law was inscribed on the stone tables which were placed in the ark. This is representative of the new covenant laws written in our hearts in this gospel age. (Heb. 8:9-10). A literal day cannot be written in a person’s heart. Not one of the Old Testament ceremonies represents literal ceremonies under the gospel, but every one met a spiritual fulfillment. Therefore, the sabbath commandment reaches its fulfillment spiritually in the heart. The literal sabbath was bodily rest; the spiritual sabbath is soul rest. How clear! Our great Saviour said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matt. 11:28-29. “His rest shall be glorious,” exclaimed the prophet, (Isa. 11:10), and all the saints bear witness. The writer of Hebrews agrees with this explanation of the symbolical sabbath. See Hebrews 4:4-10. This perpetual sabbath of soul rest is spiritual, for it is obtained by faith, and every day is a day of holiness to the true Christian.