Wednesday, April 1, 2009

To Sabbath or Not to Sabbath?

This may seem like an odd subject to post about since I am not a member of an indoctrinated church. However, I recently had a blessed discussion with a relative about this subject that I feel compelled to share here. Not only that, Christian bloggers have debated and discussed their personal doctrines and beliefs regardging observances on either one of these days and Truth does not emerge in those formats of discussion. In this light, I am further compelled to share the truth, as a whole, that has been set forth by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

While I understand church-goers are usually indoctrinated into a certain belief, or behavior instituted by an organization feel very strongly that "rest" on either a Saturday or Sunday is important, and may believe it is mandatory to be seen "right" in the eyes of God, however, the truth can only be realized in a way that reflects a wholesome and complete picture. It must start from the beginning...differentiating the Covenant God made with Abraham, from the implementation of the law during the time of Moses, and understanding the order AND purposes of the two.

The Covenant

The definition of "covenant" is as follows:

1. an agreement, usually formal, between two or more persons to do or not do something specified. Dictionary.com

In establishing a covenant with Abraham, God promised Abraham that his descendants would be innumerable (to humans at least :) Genesis 15:5. And because Abraham "believed in Him" (Genesis 15:6) God declared him righteous. The Covenant was set forth as God's promise to Abraham "to be a God unto thee and thy seed after thee". (Genesis 17:7 ) To gain clarity of this Covenant, we must understand God's declaration to be a "God unto thee and thy seed", is nothing short of a phenomenon, that is to say a reconciling of man and God, after sin had deceived the inhabitants of the Garden of Eden. To appreciate this phenomenon we can know that the NATURAL STATE of a man, separated from the living Creator can be described as this:

Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others - Ephesians 2:2-3

The Covenant was nothing short of the reconciliation of God and man, based on ...Abraham's faith, which was THE evidence that cannot be seen by eyes, (Hebrews 11:1) his LOVE for the Father.

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. - John 14:23

The above scripture sums up the very essence of the agreement between God and Abraham, and by grace...Abraham's seed.

Abraham kept God's words. No, not the laws and ten commandments, as it ("keeping God's words") is commonly interpreted in this age of Christianity. Let the record show that these laws were not given TO him. He kept God's words by moving when God told him to move. Following God's explicit command to go to Egypt and other express commands from the Lord, that can be found in the book of Genesis, as a testimony of how Abraham worshiped and loved the Lord.

 

(Suggested readings Genesis 15, 16 and 17)

The Law

The law, (ten commands) introduced a period, or an age of laws and "rules" ceremonial and otherwise. The law, the ten commandants, and the Covenant have become ambiguous in this age of Christendom. When a Christian speaks of the law, it is typically spoken under the perception that observances of the law, or as the Biblical terminology states "deeds, works of the law", initiates the  reconciliation of man and God and righteousness in a person. It must be CLARIFIED and understood, as it is stated in scripture, that the Covenant, the reconciliation of God and man initiated righteousness, by FAITH, as testified by Abraham's obedience and subsequent actions that had been declared righteous by the Father. It must be understood that it is by the Covenant, that we, by the evidence of faith, are justified. Let the record show that the law came into existence four hundred and thirty years after the Covenant was established.

And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. - Galatians 3:17

For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. -  Galatians 3:18

The promise spoken about here were the "terms of the Covenant", so to speak, that God would be a God unto Abraham and his seed. The inheritance spoken of in the 18th verse refers to this scripture:

That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. - Galatians 3:14

IF reconciliation with God, in other words, justification can only occur through the keeping, and observances of the law (works of the law) then it is no longer a promise.(vs. 18) But the inheritance (vs. 14) was promised to Abraham by God, not by observances and keeping of the law (that came 430 years later).

What purpose, does the law serve then?

Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; [and it was] ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. - Galatians 3:19

It was added because of transgressions.

Let's revisit the descendants of Abraham in the desert after their liberation from Egypt, so we can better understand the transgressions spoken of in Galatians 3:19.

Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.

Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in [their] heart; and they have not known my ways.

So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. - Hebrews 3:8-12

In the desert, God faithfully kept Abraham's descendants, like a husband, (Jeremiah 31:32) despite what He knew in their hearts. He (God) declared, "they have not known my ways", that is to say the way Abraham knew them and demonstrated it by his faith. So it was vital, to establish the law, to bring to light, SIN. To establish an awareness and acknowledgement of SIN. Which is, in its singular form, consists of "an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God".

What shall we say then? [Is] the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. - Romans 7:7

But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. - Romans 7:8

God indeed is a faithful God, faithful to His promise that He would be a God to Abraham and his seed. He had concluded all under sin, and thereby established the law as a "schoolmaster" until the appointed time of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, son of Joseph.

But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. - Galatians 3:22

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. - Galatians 3:24

It must be understood that the works of the law, and works referring to observances of the law by and in the flesh (human nature), are, as stated by scripture under the curse (the law of sin and death):

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. - Galatians 3:10

To expound further on the curse spoken of in the above scripture. This is not a "new" or "different" curse than what was handed down in the Garden of Eden when sin made it's existence. The reasoning in the scripture above is simple and it's principle true to the form established by God. Sin's, which is a departure from God, consequence was death, and the Covenant had set it forth that reconciliation between God and man could only happen upon justification by faith, which would be the opposite of sin. Now, if one were to be "of the works of the law" they are automatically under the curse, because it has been declared:

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all. - James 2:10

To be of the works of the law, is to akin to self righteousness or self-made righteousness, which translates into a separation from God and "by nature" qualifies for "the curse" spoken of in Galatians 3:10

Quite simply, it is impossible in this vein, to accomplish "works" of the law, in the flesh, because the flesh is weak. To do so, is to believe that justification can only be accomplished through the self, and that is contrary to the Covenant set forth with Abraham. It is contrary to a reconciliation with God. To be of "works" is rejecting the grace of God and walking under one's own thoughts and understanding, (Proverbs 3: 5-7) in short it is disobedience, as a whole it is SIN.

 

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: - Romans 8:3

Here's why it is impossible to keep the works of the law by and through the flesh...the law is SPIRITUAL.

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. - Romans 7:12

What does this mean then? It means the law, which is holy, just and good, cannot be kept in, by and of the flesh. It is only when one has reconciled unto the living God, by faith, having been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, does God write His laws unto our HEARTS!

But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. - Jeremiah 31:33

(Suggested readings Galatians 1,2 and 3; Hebrews 3 and 4)

With clarity and understanding we can renew the mainstream mind set we have inherited from a history of Christianity gone astray...after a religion of "works of the law", be it manmade or Mosaic. With clarity we worship God in the spirit, because He IS a spirit. (John 4:23-24) When we understand that we keep the Covenant of the faith of Abraham, we understand that we are to walk, after the spirit, in doing so, we do not fulfill the "lusts of the flesh".

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh - Galatians 5:16 

Because the "natural" conditions of both essences, "flesh" and "spirit", are the complete opposite of one another, it cannot coexist. The flesh is to the spirit (of God) the way the Joker is to the Batman.

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. - Romans 8:7

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. -- Galatians 5:17

But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. - Galatians 5:18

When the Father through His Son makes His abode with you by Divine justification, that is to say His perusal of your heart, the fruit of the Spirit can be evident.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith

Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law - Galatians 5:22-23

 

The Seed

 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. - Galatians 3:16

A seed, when planted will take root and grow yielding fruit, flowers, vegetables and so forth representing the seed that was planted. This simple principle of seed bearing fruit "after his own kind" (Genesis 1:11-12) is representative of a spiritual principle as well.

In the scripture above, Paul clarifies and emphasizes two things.

1. God made the promises to Abraham and his seed, as in one.

2. This singular seed was to originate from him in likeness (faithful and righteous) and this seed was Christ.

When God declared Abraham righteous He choose to be a God unto Abraham (righteous) and His seed (after it's own kind). Now God, the Sower of the seed expected this seed to yield fruit after its own kind, and in abundance, fruit that would last always. Every good planter knows that for a seed to blossom and grow into it's own kind, it takes care, ministration, weeding, pruning and most importantly time. The fulfillment (fruit) of Abraham's seed was Christ. Prior to Christ, the stage of the "seed" was such that it needed pruning and weeding. In this light, the law, which Paul described as a "schoolmaster" in the third chapter of Galatians, introduced that "weeding and pruning" stage, because of "transgressions", that the ways (faith) of the Lord may be known.

But the ESSENCE of the spiritual principle of the seed is the Word of the living God.

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: - Isaiah 55:10

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. -Isaiah 55:11

 

A New Covenant

In these modern time, the term "new" can be deceiving in the fact that it may connote "different" or "better" than the original. The Covenant God established with Abraham is not different, nor has it changed. His promise to be a God to Abraham's seed remains true in the fact that the Gospel was first preached to the Jews (Romans 1:16). The "new" in this Covenant is the fulfillment of the spiritual phenomenon that the Old Covenant foreshadowed. The "new" in the Covenant is the indication that the law, the old schoolmaster, is no longer needed as a teaching tool or a guide.  For the time has now come that through our faith in Jesus Christ of Nazareth, He would now write His laws on our hearts by the power of His Holy Spirit.

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah

Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day [that] I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:

But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. Jeremiah 31:31-34

The "new" in this Covenant includes the adoption of "Gentiles" and "heathens" who cry to and believe on the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It fulfills the promise to Abraham that he would have would be the father of many nations. (Genesis 17:5)

And if ye [be] Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. - Galatians 3:29

To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. - Galatians 4:5-6

The "New" Token

The circumcision of the foreskin was only but a physical symbol of the true (and only) sign of a Covenant between God and His people.

In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: - Col. 2:11

This token takes place in an area of your body that is unreachable by human hands...the heart.

And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live - Deuteronomy 30:6

For clarity's sake, I need to mention that the "heart" is used figuratively. The "heart" is the essence, or soul of a being. It consists of its character, attitude and conscience. And encompasses, as well as defines the mental and emotional state of a person. In this light, a circumcision of one's heart is the "deal-breaker".  For a person can be "stiff-necked" or resistant as we saw the Israelites were in the desert... and THEY were whom the law was given to.  

Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked - Deteronomy 10:16

Quite naturally, no can physically circumcise their "heart". So it is clear that the circumcision spoken here is spiritual. It must be defined that spirituality is anything that cannot be seen or touched by human hands and eyes. A bad attitude can be hidden in the recesses of a man's mind. Other people cannot see this attitude unless a man speaks of it or shows it via facial expression or behavior. But it is clear that this attitude existed (spiritually) prior to being manifested (physically). Christ spoke of this principle when He declared: "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" - Matthew 12:34. This is where the just are JUSTIFIED in the eyes of God, who is the Judge of all men, a "discerner" of thoughts and intents of the heart.  (Hebrews 4:12)

But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God. - Romans 2:29

Speaking my own thoughts and opinions, I truly believe that Christianity in general loves "the works of the law"  because it is the only way it can validate itself to other Christians and nonbelievers. The Life Force (Holy Spirit) that began the Church era (as stated in the book of Acts), that was so evident and powerful, seems to have vacated what is called Christianity today. The only way it can offer any proof of "justification" by their works. And by this vein, Christianity has earned a reputation of being hypocritical, self-righteous and judgmental. It has evolved away from the powerful, Gospel-sharing Church, which carried a message, a ministry of reconciliation, that started on fire with the Holy Spirit, that spoke "tongues", which are foreign languages, to foreigners and converting them to the Faith. Yes, I believe the modern age of Christianity love the works of the law if only for validation purposes and in turn they impose the works of the law upon others, so they, themselves, can feel validated. And by this way church has now come to mean an empty building that hosts this social club mentality, where their membership is evoked, or revoked by their "works". They love this scenario because it "blinds" them to the True evidence of justification, a circumcised heart. For the heart is the place where no one can hide from the eyes of the Living God. Nor escape accountability of the condition of our metaphoric heart with offers of excuses of "isms" and presentations of scientific researches. LET THE RECORD SHOW, HE HAS MADE THE HOLY SPIRIT AVAILABLE TO ALL WHO WOULD BE JUSTIFIED BY FAITH, THROUGH GRACE.

 Behold, his soul [which] is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith - Hab. 2:4

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. - Romans 1:17

But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, [it is] evident: for, The just shall live by faith. - Galatians 3:11

Now the just shall live by faith: but if [any man] draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. - Hebrews 10:38

In Concluding...

In answering the question, to Sabbath or not, it seems silly, if not ignorant of the Faith, that posed question, which has become such a hot topic of debate between Christians. In this avenue, the title of this post, is metaphoric for everything that's wrong with Christianity today...the servitude to "works of the law", what is come to be known today as legalism.

Let there be no misunderstanding. While this post has been typed by me the facts; the Covenant, first and the law added later, stands true and has been declared true by scripture, testified by God-fearing prophets and apostles of His Word.

For the argument's sake, let's entertain the question...to Sabbath or not? A popular reasoning for observing the Sabbath day is this: "Jesus kept the Sabbath and so should we." While it is only natural for Christ who grew up in the traditional Jewish setting to have observed the Sabbath, it cannot be ignored or forgotten that he "broke" the Sabbath as well and was accused by the Pharisees.

And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.

And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? - Mark 2:23-24

Christ used the accusation of the Pharisees as an opportunity to declare the time of fulfillment (by parables) that was at hand, as the promised seed of Abraham. He declared unto the Pharisee that He indeed was the Lord of the Sabbath. This declaration is to be understood as this:

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.

For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light. - Matthew 11:28-30

Indeed this one day that everyone bickers so bitterly about has been lost in translation. For Christ IS our Sabbath. As the fulfillment of Abraham's promised Seed, He has delivered us from the "works of the law" that was so weak through the flesh. He has restored us as sons and daughters, adopted heirs by grace, unto the living God. That we no longer lean upon our own understanding, (in departure) but in all of our ways acknowledging Him, that He may direct our paths! Taking a leave of "works" and erroneous understanding, we lean on Him. Trusting Him. Loving Him. When nothing makes sense, completely confident that He is who He says He is: a Promise-Keeper. Some may be content to tithe one portion out of their week to devote to physical rest, I must say pausing one day of the week to "physical" rest doesn't do it for me, because I need Him minutely.  I need Him daily, my rest doesn't consist of one day, but a LIFE of ETERNITY in reconciliation. Indeed He is my Father and I'm His daughter in this light I'm on a Sabbatical.

This message (post/blog) is not for everyone to receive. It is clear to me that the path is "narrow" and the road to hell is indeed wide. For those who are seeking, wondering and asking in their hearts, I can only pray that this message is wholesome and complete enough to offer some clarity in THIS age of Christianity. I have done the "works of the law" with an organization called World Wide Church of God. I KNOW the burden of GUILT and DEBT I felt in redeeming myself in my erroneous state of mind. The keeping and observances of days was a crushing boulder I carried around for years. There are not enough words I could use to describe being justified by faith, so I will let the Word speak for me:

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

And not only [so], but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. - Romans 5:1-5

Yes...peace with God...no longer warring with the guilt and debt I bore in the recesses of my mind. More than that, I felt...alone and without...despite the fact I kept a physical rest weekly. Eventually, I understood that as long as I maintained a "works" mind set towards justification, I COULD NOT have rest....

May your rest be minutely upon His Spirit....

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated.

Please note the changes to this blog. ONLY respectful comments and questions are accepted. Special note to other Christians: This blog no longer caters to debate and or arguments about the Bible. If you have a comment in SUPPORT of clear and concise understanding of the saving power of Christ Jesus, you are welcome to leave comments on this blog.