From your paradigm of the Law this argument makes total sense. But, I’m looking at it from what I see the arguments of letters such as Romans and Galatians are saying, that the Law was a covenant made with one people in history, and with the coming of the Messiah its time was over. It was not to be imposed as the way of life upon Gentile believers, as the condition for belonging to the people of God.
The guide for morality for individuals and the community was now the crucified Christ and his love. The empowerment to live this was the Spirit. The ultimate conviction of sin came from pointing people to him, not to the law…a far higher standard of what it means to be truly human in the image of God.
This did not preclude Paul and the other writers from drawing from the Law for instruction. But, Paul also drew from other sources as well, including Greek household tables, for moral example and guidance. But, he most notably refers back to Christ’s love rather than commandments for the ultimate guidance:
"Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Eph.5:25
"If your brother is distressed by what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died." Rom.14:15
Paul, in these instances, doesn’t refer his audience to commandments or food laws from the Old Covenant to guide their behavior, he refers them to Christ like, other centered love. There are many other instances of this in his letters.
Finally, I find it interesting that when Paul lists what would disqualify people from the kingdom of God, most notably in 1 Cor. 6, he says this:
"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Cor. 6:9-10
To a liberal church, as the one in Corinth, Paul lays it on the line, and refers to behaviors that clearly don’t align with Christ and the kingdom, but also are condemned by the Law. But, he never mentions Sabbath breaking in this list. He never mentioned it anywhere as disqualification for the kingdom. In none of his letters, to any of his churches. Neither did any other NT letters to the churches. In light of the fact that under the Old Covenant, sabbath breaking was an offense worthy of death, why is this so? Why would it never be mentioned as placing a person outside of the kingdom in the New Covenant?
To say that it was simply assumed would be nonsensical. That would not only be arguing from silence, it would make the mention of other obvious disqualifying sins just as nonsensical. To say that it wasn’t an issue because all the early Christians were keeping it would also be absurd. Sabbath breaking was an issue throughout the OT. Do we really think it would have just disappeared in the NT, or just in the apostolic churches, especially among those who never kept it before? Also, why do we feel it necessary to say that a person can be disfellowshipped for sabbath breaking in the SDA church, but it is never mentioned as a disqualifier from the kingdom in the NT?
In light of all this, could it possibly be that sabbath observance was no longer a binding requirement for believers, especially for Gentiles who had come to faith in the Messiah, and received his Spirit, totally separate from the Law, as it says in Romans and Galatians? Could this be why Paul never mentions it anywhere as a condition for belonging to the kingdom, and never gives a single iota of instruction on how to keep it, especially to gentile congregations?
Look, I approach this as a long time SDA who has kept the Sabbath for years. These are not conclusions that I have come to lightly. In fact, I still value stopping work and distractions, and taking unbroken time for God and family. As an Adventist, It has been ingrained into the rhythm of my life.
But, I simply cannot ignore the lack of solid evidence for sabbath keeping as a requirement for belonging to Christ and the kingdom of God in the NT. I just see too much in the letters of the NT, especially as these issues of Law, Covenant, and Sabbath pertain to Gentiles, to conclude that it is still binding. Nor can I see it as the eschatological sign of God’s people that will result in world wide persecution. That doesn’t even reflect the present multi cultural, religiously pluralistic, and largely secular reality of the world in which we live.
Paul certainly never discusses sabbath observance as one of the essential matters of the kingdom. I tend to think he classified it as a shadow, one of the more disputable matters of Christian life, fellowship, and belonging. Why can’t we see other Christians in the same way, on equal fellowship and footing, as we all seek to glorify God in Christ?