Sabbath: Experiencing and Living the Character of God

As we went back into lockdown, one question we started asking in the conference office was, how can we help build faith when people are at home?


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/sabbath-school/2020/sabbath-experiencing-and-living-character-god
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I really appreciate Gavin’s suggestion. Both this article on Sabbath as a blessing, a time for thanlfulness, and “Sabbath as a Gift”—not a test. Yes, resting in Him and his righteousness, for now and forever, brings great Joy to my heart

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this is so well put…on the flip side, we can see that willful, knowing disobedience obstructs the HS from entering into our experience in order to do what only he can do…“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear me.”

This article, while tying sabbath to rest and completion, never once mentions the resurrection. If one does a survey of the NT gospel sermons, it is the resurrection that is focused on more than anything else. The cross can’t be divorced from it, nor the parousia. The cross without the resurrection would have said that Jesus died as a failed and fake messiah.

Adventism is focused on the commandments, the creation, the cross, and the coming advent. That is all good, especially the cross! But, this all means nothing apart from the resurrection. The NT affirms this as the launching of God’s new creation and new covenant. The sign and seal of belonging to God’s new creation is no longer the sabbath. It is the presence and power of the spirit inspiring a unifying love for one another, regardless of race, social status, gender, ethnic, or religious background.

Observances such as sabbath keeping are ancillary matters. Whether one is observant or not, we all equally belong to God and to one another as God’s family in Christ. We are to welcome one another with our differences as God in Christ has done with us.

As meaningful a tradition as sabbath observance can be for some, Jesus said that they will know you are my disciples by your love for one another. This is the visible sign of being set apart as the people of God in this world… what sanctification means. This is not limited to sabbath keepers, but includes all of Jesus’s followers.

Thanks…

Frank

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I’m just sitting here wondering what the difference is between the Jews who obediently kept all the commandments by keeping the Sabbath (He who from the heart obeys the fourth commandment will obey the whole law. - EGW ) and a SDA Sabbath keeper, who also “keeps the whole law” by keeping the Sabbath. Where does Christ, on the cross and resurrected come into the scenario?

I shouldn’t rock the boat, again, this way. I’m sure it’s annoying to some. Sorry; but I find this adoration of the Sabbath a little off-putting when it leaves Christ, not only out of the picture, but not even in the room.

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It’s law focused, Sirje, not Christ focused. The center of Adventism, no matter how much is protested, is the sabbath. This article seconds that. The connection of sabbath with sign/seal identity in the article, along with connecting it to sanctification, being set apart, just pays little mind to what the NT is saying about such things. Even the remaking of sabbath as a gift to celebrate RBF as opposed to test is an effort to attribute NT significance to it that the NT itself never does.

In the end, such theology once again creates walls between Adventists and other Christians based on ancillary matters and law, that Paul was saying the gospel broke down. I too sound like a broken record. But, I think such distortions need to be met head on.

Frank

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In spite of social distancing,
wearing masks in church
and an abundance of caution
and scrupulous hand washing,
COVID came to church one Sabbath.
The next week there were two new cases.
Then there were 4,
and the church locked the door.

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I have wondered why, as a law-keeping people, you hardly hear sermons or even mention of keeping any of the other nine. It was finally made clear here - if you keep the Sabbath, apparently all the others are counted as “having been kept”. By virtue of keeping the Sabbath, the others are forgiven??? That sounds a lot like a subversion of Christianity, the Sabbath taking the place of Christ. What am I misunderstanding?

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covid seems to be very hard to avoid…but i’ve heard that wearing masks regularly acts like a vaccine, since it allows in only a subclinical amount of virus, which stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies, instead of overwhelming it…

Yes. But, the whole thing is a distortion. A distortion of old and new covenant. The old was law/Torah. While it contained much in the way of ethical content, the mistake always made is to try and view the law as a timeless legal arrangement apart from the fact that this was a particular covenant, with a particular people, during one particular time in history.

The new covenant is basically saying that that time is over. Believers now relate to God in Christ by the new way of the spirit, not the old way of the letter. Adventism, by its very nature points to the old way of the letter, and tries to combine that with faith in Christ and the gospel. It’s like pouring new wine into old wineskins. It doesn’t work.

If one wants to live observing sabbath, fine. Just don’t impose that on anyone else. That’s the biggest problem of legalism. This is the entire reason for being of Adventism.

Frank

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A question for Gavin: why does the NT not go into a explanation of the
Sabbath like you have done especially for Gentile converts? It never
mentions Sabbath as a sign or seal for new for believers. Instead Paul
twice writes we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. Eph 1:13, 4:30. BTW,
I’m not suggesting we abandon Sabbath.

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A busy week results in a welcome of the Sabbath hours allwing us to read, watch, and relax.

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Because it wasn’t required of nor imposed upon Gentile believers. There is no evidence in the NT that it was. Holy time observance was considered a disputable/ancillary matter by Paul. In Colossians, he groups the weekly sabbath with monthly new moon celebrations, and yearly festivals, as part of the shadow of things to come, the reality being Christ.

It is not the central issue of identity and belonging, what sign and seal is all about, and that SDAism has made it into. If some keep it, that’s fine. What isn’t fine is saying that it is a requirement for belonging to the remnant. It is just not supportable from the NT. It’s the text book definition of legalism, and results in such fruit.

Sorry to butt in!

Thanks…

Frank

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“Adventists hold to the conviction that the end-time controversy will center on the law of God, and particularly on the fourth commandment (Rev 14:12). … For this reason, it should be made clear that Seventh-day Adventists understand the ‘mark of the beast’ to be not a literal mark but a sign of allegiance that identifies the bearer as loyal to the power represented by the beast.”

This is a quote from the BRI in response to comments by David Gates regarding the vaccine and the MOB.

Point being, yes…it is all about the law, and most especially the Sabbath.

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Hi Frank. I don’t accept that the weekly Sabbath was a shadow of things to come. Instead it is a memorial of creation and redemption.
There is also no NT evidence that new converts were told to disregard
Sabbath or substitute another day Acts 13:42,43.

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Hi again Frank. I agree with you that the major point of the NT is Christ
and the gospel. My point in replying to Gavin was to point out the sealing of the Holy Spirit as in Ephesians. Blessings Bruce

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The idea of the seal of God being the Spirit was one of the first things that started me exploring the doctrinal claims of Adventism years ago.

While I understand you not accepting that the sabbath is part of the shadow of things to come, the plain fact is that this is what Paul is saying in Colossians 2. Adventist literature and evangelists have wrongly claimed that the text only refers to ceremonial sabbaths. It simply isn’t true. Seven times, the same formula is used in the OT, backwards and forwards, referring to yearly, monthly, and weekly holy time observances. The weekly sabbath was part of the whole complex. Paul is using this type of formula in Colossians, describing the same gamut of Jewish observances. The fact that he uses a plural for sabbath is also a non starter. This was typical when referring to the weekly sabbath.

Paul is literally saying in Colossians 2 that the weekly sabbath is part of the shadow of things to come. The reality is Christ. The ancient rabbis even spoke of sabbath as a shadow of the messianic rest of the age to come. Even Bacchiocchi, Adventism’s foremost sabbath apologist, acknowledged all of this.

If you don’t accept this view of the sabbath, that’s fine. If you disagree with what Paul was saying, that’s also fine. However, one just can’t say that he wasn’t saying this in Colossians. He truly was.

For Paul, the entire Torah and its observances had found their fulfillment, met their goal, and were eclipsed by the universal and transformative power of the new covenant, and the new creation launched by the risen Christ and his Spirit.

Thanks…

Frank

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What does it mean to be “sealed by the Holy Spirit”?

frank, i think what you’re missing is that the weekly sabbath has two inclusions, both as part of the yearly, monthly, and weekly time observances present in what is known as the jewish ceremonial law, but also as the 4th commandment of the decalogue law, which paul teaches we don’t make void through faith, but establish…saying that the sabbath ends as a ceremonial law inclusion isn’t saying that it ends in its decalogue context…

one thing to consider is the fact that if the seventh-day sabbath commandment is discarded in its ceremonial law context, along with the numerous touch not, taste not, handle not ordinances frequently castigated by paul, that’s one thing…but if it is discarded because the decalogue is discarded, we would have to hold that paul is advocating murder, adultery, lying and other things he specifically condemns…the reality is that the seventh-day sabbath, being created roughly 2,666 yrs before sinai, cannot be surgically removed from the decalogue, which codifies behaviour that paul and the other apostles everywhere encourage…

in addition, your confusion over the sealing is a question of context…for paul, the issue of the sealing occurs only in its fruit of the spirit context, which everyone who chooses christ is eligible to receive, and which he lists as love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance…

in egw eschaton theory, on the other hand - and here we’re talking adventism - this fruit of the spirit sealing context sees the superimposition of a new reality, in which the world is divided into two camps: those who’ve been filled with the latter rain, and those who’ve actively rejected the HS, and are no longer eligible to receive him…within this reality, egw is saying that those sealed with the HS certainly demonstrate the fruits of the spirit listed by paul, but they exhibit a new phenomenon not perceived by paul, or any of the biblical apostles, which is fealty to the original seventh-day sabbath…fealty to the seventh-day sabbath could not have been a test of faith in paul’s time, given its widespread, essentially universal, observance…

in the time egw is describing, which could be centuries from now, seventh-day sabbath observance has clearly become associated with worship of the invisible creator god, whereas sunday observance has clearly become associated with obedience to the state…in this context, rejection of the seventh-day sabbath means rejection of the creator god and any hope of HS sealing, and instead the inevitable acquisition of the MOB…egw predicts that obedience to the seventh-day sabbath will only be seen in those sealed with the HS, which is why the seventh-day sabbath can be seen to be a HS sealing identifier…

it is important to understand that paul, and other NT writers, were concerned primarily with the fulfillment of the 490 yr beginning of the 2300 yr prophecy given by gabriel…for them, the time that was fulfilled, cited by Mark, but no doubt understood by the other gospel writers, especially those who copied him, was only the time reaching to the first advent of the messiah…and while we see overtones in paul of a future development of what he calls the mystery of iniquity, his overall comprehension of the eschaton is clearly meagre, and in fact pathetic, yet completely appropriate for 1st century needs…

it is because of the colossal ministry of egw that we understand, as adventists, the future as clearly as we do, particularly in connection with the end of the 2300 yr prophecy recorded in Daniel, and the IJ commencement that defines daniel’s time of the end…and we believe that through the ministry of future prophets, we will understand even more, when the time for such knowledge becomes vital…we don’t need to think that the spirit of prophecy identifier of the remnant church, which is the Seventh-day Adventist Church, is exhausted by the ministry of egw…god will raise up future prophets when we need them…

Sorry, Jeremy. You’re reading all kinds of stuff into the text of Colossians, and splitting Torah into moral and ceremonial components in a way that neither Jews nor Paul the apostle ever conceived. It is Christian tradition and anachronism eisegeted into the text that makes nonsense of it. EGW did the same.

Frank

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