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Q. Is Working For Personal Gain Profaning The Sabbath?


Dear Friend,

Let first clarify the question you’ve raised, and express it in my own words: “Jesus could justify His working on the Sabbath (for which He charged nothing), but does this justify men working for pay on the Sabbath today?

First of all, I would not use the example of our Lord Jesus healing on the Sabbath as my primary text on the Sabbath. It does show why He could “violate” the Sabbath in Jewish minds, and not be guilty, but I would not use that as my main reason for justifying worshipping on the first day of the week, or for not keeping the 7th day as the day for worship.

The first text I would turn to is Isaiah 58, especially verses 13 and 14 to demonstrate the fact that God wanted His people to set aside a time to worship and focus on Him. I have dealt more extensively with this matter in this sermon:

So, I believe we should set aside a time, a day, when we put aside our normal daily activities and focus on worshiping God. The question which follows must be this: Is Saturday, the seventh day of the week, the day which God now requires Christians to observe as that day for worship? Too many New Testament texts tell us otherwise.

We know that the early church met on “the first day of the week” (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2). I believe this was to celebrate the day of our Lord’s resurrection (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; etc.).

Further, the New Testament clearly indicates that a particular day (e.g. the seventh day) is not required. This day of rest and worship could well be some other day of the week. There should be “a” day (Isaiah 58:13-14), but not necessarily Saturday (Romans 14:1-13, especially verses 5-6). But listen to what Paul writes in Colossians chapter two:

13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. 16 Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day-- 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ (Colossians 2:13-17, NAU; emphasis mine).

Finally, I am quite concerned that this matter (which day you choose to worship God), which Paul calls a matter of Christian liberty, should become the litmus test for whether or not a church is legitimate. To begin with, there are a good number of Seventh Day Adventists who would not make this a fundamental issue. But more importantly, God does not make it a primary concern, but rather a matter of freedom.

The real test of a biblical, legitimate, church is whether or not it preaches a pure gospel (see how important this is to Paul in Galatians, especially chapter 1, verses 6-10). Is Jesus Christ God’s only provision for sinful men to find forgiveness of their sins and the assurance of eternal life? Are we saved by faith alone in His work, or by faith plus our works? This is the issue to which Paul devotes the entire Book of Galatians. This is what really separates the “sheep” from the “goats” church-wise.

Bob Deffinbaugh

Related Topics: Sabbath

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