Does our salvation as Christians depend on keeping the Sabbath? Men like Mark Martin, a former Jehovah’s Witness, preach that Christians must observe a weekly Sabbath day in order to be saved. As he defines it, keeping the Sabbath means setting aside the 24-hour time period between 6 pm on Friday to 6 pm on Saturday to cease work and worship God. He adamantly claims that keeping a Sabbath (according to the Jewish calendar) is what separates true Christians from false Christians. In his Hope Prophecy video called “Intending to Change Times and Law” he says this:
“You see the people who worship the one true God came together on the Sabbath day. If you worship the one true God this was the day that he picked. It identifies his people and separates them from the rest of the world. And Christians that know this and believe in the Sabbath day, it separates them from much of Christianity.”
Mark Martin isn’t the only one to preach that the commandment to keep the Sabbath is a requirement for Christians. The 21 million baptized members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church are also required to keep the Sabbath. In fact, it is so critical to their theological structure of worship, that they’ve branded themselves with the name “Seventh-day Adventists,” which literally means “Sabbath Adventists.”
If indeed it is true that we have to keep the Sabbath to be saved, then it would seem that Jesus’ had it wrong when he said that love would be the identifier for true Christians. Perhaps John 13:35 should read, “by this all will know that you are my disciples—if you keep the Sabbath.” “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
My father was raised as a Presbyterian, but he converted to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the early 1950s. My aunt and grandmother, however, chose to become Seventh-day Adventists. After doing this research into the Seventh-day Adventist church, I have seen some disquieting similarities between the two religions.
I don’t believe we should keep a weekly Sabbath in the manner that Mark Martin and the SDA church preach. It is not a salvation requirement based on my research. I think you’ll see in this two-part video series that the Bible does not support the teaching of the Seventh-day Adventists on this issue.
Sure, Jesus kept the Sabbath because he was a Jew living at the time when the law code was still in force. But that only applied to Jews under the law. Romans, Greeks, and all other gentiles were not under the Sabbath, so if that Jewish law was going to continue in force after Jesus fulfilled the law as prophesied that he would, one would expect some clear direction from our Lord on the matter, yet there is nothing from him nor any other Christian writer telling us to keep the Sabbath. So where does that teaching come from? Could it be that the source of the reasoning that is leading millions of Adventists to keep the Sabbath is the same source that has led millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses to refuse to partake of the bread and wine emblematic of Jesus’ life-saving flesh and blood. Why do men get carried away with their own intellectual reasoning instead of just accepting what it clearly stated in Scripture?
What is the intellectual reasoning that leads these pastors and ministers to promote Sabbath keeping? It starts out this way:
The 10 commandments that Moses brought down from the mountain on two stone tablets represent a timeless moral law code. For example, the 6th commandment tells us we must not murder, the 7th, that we must not commit adultery, the 8th, we must not steal, the 9th, we must not lie… are any of these commandments obsolete now? Of course not! So why would we consider the 4th, the law about keeping the Sabbath day of rest, to be obsolete? Since we wouldn’t break the other commandments—murdering, stealing, lying—then why break the commandment on keeping the Sabbath?
The problem with relying on human ideas and intellect is that we rarely see all the variables. We don’t perceive all the factors affecting a matter, and because of pride, we forge ahead following our own inclinations instead of allowing ourselves to be guided by the holy spirit. As Paul told the Corinthian Christians who were getting ahead of themselves:
“The scripture says, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and set aside the understanding of the scholars.” So then, where does that leave the wise? or the scholars? or the skillful debaters of this world? God has shown that this world’s wisdom is foolishness!” (1 Corinthians 1:19, 20 Good News Bible)
My brothers and sisters, we must never say, “I believe this or that, because this man says, or that man says.” We are all mere mortals, often wrong. Now, more than ever before, there is a superabundance of information at our fingertips, but it all originates from the mind of some human. We must learn to reason for ourselves and to stop thinking that just because something appears in writing or on the internet it must be true, or simply because we like someone who sounds down to earth and reasonable, then what they say must be true.
Paul also reminds us not to “copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 NLT)
So the question remains, should we keep the Sabbath? We have learned to study the Bible exegetically, which means we allow the Bible to reveal the meaning of the Bible writer rather than start with a preconceived idea about what the original writer meant. Therefore, we won’t assume we know what the Sabbath is nor how to keep it. Instead, we’ll let the Bible tell us. It says in the Book of Exodus:
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. For six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD your God; on it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male slave or your female slave, or your cattle, or your resident who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and everything that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day; for that reason the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:8-11 New American Standard Bible)
That’s it! That’s the sum total of the Sabbath law. If you were an Israelite at the time of Moses, what would you have to do to keep the Sabbath? That’s easy. You’d have to take the last day of a seven-day week and do no work. You’d take a day off work. A day to rest, relax, take it easy. That doesn’t seem too hard, does it? In modern society, many of us take two days off from work… ‘the weekend’ and we love the weekend, don’t we?
Did the commandment on the Sabbath tell the Israelites what to do on the Sabbath? No! It told them what not to do. It told them not to work. There is no instruction to worship on the Sabbath, is there? If Yahweh had told them they had to worship Him on the Sabbath, wouldn’t that imply they didn’t have to worship him the other six days? Their worship of God wasn’t confined to a single day, nor was it based on formalized ceremony in the centuries following the time of Moses. Instead, they had this instruction:
“Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God. Yahweh is one. You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. These words, which I command you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7 World English Bible)
Okay, that was Israel. What about us? Do we as Christians have to keep the Sabbath?
Well, the Sabbath is the fourth of the Ten Commandments, and the Ten Commandments are the foundation of the Mosaic Law. They are like its constitution, aren’t they? So if we have to keep the Sabbath, then we have to keep the Mosaic Law. But we know that we don’t have to keep the Mosaic law. How do we know that? Because the whole question was settled 2000 years ago when certain Judaizers were trying to promote the introduction of circumcision among the gentile Christians. You see, they saw circumcision as the thin edge of the wedge which would allow them to slowly introduce the entire Mosaic law among the Gentile Christians so as to make Christianity more acceptable to the Jews. They were motivated by fear of Jewish ostracism. They wanted to belong to the larger Jewish community and not be persecuted for Jesus Christ.
So the whole issue came before the congregation in Jerusalem, and guided by holy spirit, the question was resolved. The ruling that went forth to all the congregations was that Gentile Christians would not be burdened with circumcision nor the rest of the Jewish law code. They were told to avoid only four things:
“It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond these essential requirements: You must abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.” (Acts 15:28, 29 Berean Study Bible)
These four things were all common practices in pagan temples, so the only restriction put upon these former pagans now turned Christian was to abstain from things that might lead them back into pagan worship.
If it is still not clear to us that the law was no longer in force for Christians, consider these words of rebuke from Paul to the Galatians who were gentile Christians and who were being seduced to follow the Judizaers (Jewish Christians) who were falling back into relying on works of law for sanctification:
“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? After starting in the Spirit, are you now finishing in the flesh? Have you suffered so much for nothing, if it really was for nothing? Does God lavish His Spirit on you and work miracles among you because you practice the law, or because you hear and believe?” (Galatians 3:1-5 BSB)
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be encumbered once more by a yoke of slavery. Take notice: I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I testify to every man who gets himself circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been severed from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” (Galatians 5:1-4 BSB)
If a Christian was to get himself circumcised, Paul says then they would be obliged to obey the whole law which would include the 10 Commandments with its law on the Sabbath along with all the hundreds of other laws. But that would mean they were trying to be justified or declared righteous by law and so would be “severed from Christ.” If you’re severed from Christ, then you are severed from salvation.
Now, I have heard arguments from Sabbatarians claiming that the 10 Commandments are distinct from the law. But nowhere in Scripture is such a distinction made. Evidence that the 10 commandments were tied to the law and that the entire code had passed away for Christians is found in these words of Paul:
“Therefore let no one judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a feast, a New Moon, or a Sabbath.” (Colossians 2:16 BSB)
The dietary laws covering what an Israelite could eat or drink were part of the extended law code, but the Sabbath law was part of the 10 commandments. Yet here, Paul makes no distinction between the two. So, a Christian could eat pork or not and it was nobody’s business but his own. That same Christian could choose to keep the Sabbath or choose not to keep it and, again, it was not up to anyone to judge whether this was good or bad. It was a matter of personal conscience. From this, we can see that Sabbath keeping for Christians in the first century was not a matter upon which their salvation depended. In other words, if you want to keep the Sabbath, then keep it, but don’t go preaching that your salvation, or the salvation of anyone else, depends on keeping the Sabbath.
This should be enough to dismiss the whole idea that keeping the Sabbath is a salvation issue. So, how does the Seventh Day Adventist Church get around this? How is Mark Martin able to promote his idea that we have to keep the Sabbath to be considered real Christians?
Let’s get into this because it’s a classic example of how eisegesis can be used to pervert the teaching of the Bible. Remember eisegesis is where we impose our own ideas on Scripture, often cherry-picking a verse and ignoring its textual and historical context in order to support the dogma of a religious tradition and its organizational structure.
We saw that the Sabbath as explained in the 10 commandments was simply about taking a day off work. However, the Seventh Day Adventist Church goes way beyond that. Take, for example, this statement from the Adventist.org web site:
“The Sabbath is “a symbol of our redemption in Christ, a sign of our sanctification, a token of our allegiance, and a foretaste of our eternal future in God’s kingdom, and a perpetual sign of God’s eternal covenant between him and his people.” (From Adventist.org/the-sabbath/)
The St. Helena Seventh-day Adventist church claims on their web site:
The Bible teaches that those who receive the gift of Christ’s character will observe His Sabbath as a sign or seal of their spiritual experience. Thus the people who receive the last-day seal of God will be Sabbath-keepers.
The last-day seal of God is given to those Christian believers who will not die but will be alive when Jesus comes.
(St. Helena Seventh-Day Adventist web site [https://sthelenaca.adventistchurch.org/about/worship-with-us/bible-studies/dr-erwin-gane/the-sabbath-~-and-salvation])
Actually, this isn’t even a good example of eisegesis because there is no attempt here to prove any of this from Scripture. These are just bald statements passed off as teachings from God. If you are a former Jehovah’s Witness, this must sound very familiar to you. Just as there is nothing in Scripture supporting the idea of an overlapping generation measuring out the length of the last days, there is likewise nothing in Scripture that talks about the Sabbath as a last-day seal of God. There is nothing in Scripture equating a day of rest with being sanctified, justified, or declared righteous in God’s eyes for everlasting life. The Bible does talk about a seal, a token or sign, or a guarantee that results in our salvation but that has nothing to do with taking a day off work. No. Instead, it applies as a mark of our adoption by God as His children. Consider these verses:
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13,14 BSB)
“Now it is God who establishes both us and you in Christ. He anointed us, placed His seal on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a pledge of what is to come.” (2 Corinthians 1:21,22 BSB)
“And God has prepared us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a pledge of what is to come.” (2 Corinthians 5:5 BSB)
Seventh-day Adventists have taken the unique seal or sign of the Holy Spirit and have obscenely desecrated it. They have replaced the true use of the sign or seal of the Holy Spirit meant to identify the reward of everlasting life (the inheritance of the children of God) with an irrelevant work-based activity that doesn’t have any legitimate support in the New Covenant. Why? Because the New Covenant is based on faith working through love. It does not depend on physical compliance with practices and rites regulated in a law code—on works, not faith. Paul explains the difference quite nicely:
“For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” (Galatians 5:5,6 ESV)
You could substitute circumcision for Sabbath keeping and that scripture would work just as nicely.
The problem Sabbath promotors face is how to apply the Sabbath which is part of the Mosaic Law when that law code has become obsolete under the New Covenant. The writer of Hebrews made that clear:
“By speaking of a new covenant, He has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.” (Hebrews 8:13 BSB)
Still, Sabbatarians eisegetically fashion a work-around to this truth. They do this by claiming that the Sabbath law predates the Mosaic law so it must still be valid today.
For this to even begin to work, Mark and his associates have to make a number of interpretations that have no basis in Scripture. First of all, they teach that the six creative days were literal 24-hour days. So when God rested on the seventh day, he rested for 24 hours. This is just silly. If he only rested for 24 hours, then he was back to work on the eighth day, right? What did he do that second week? Start creating again? There have been over 300,000 weeks since creation. Has Yahweh been working for six days, then taking the seventh day off over 300,000 times since Adam walked the earth? You think?
I’m not even going to get into the scientific proof that negates the absurd belief that the universe is only 7000 years old. Are we really expected to believe that God decided to use the rotation of an insignificant speck of dust that we call planet Earth as a kind of celestial wristwatch to guide him in his timekeeping?
Again, eisegesis requires Sabbatarians to ignore contrary scriptural evidence to promote their idea. Such evidence as this:
“For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it is past,
And like a watch in the night.”
(Psalm 90:4 NKJV)
What is yesterday to you? To me, it’s just a thought, it’s gone. A watch in the night? “You take the 12 to 4 am shift, soldier.” That’s a thousand years to Yahweh. The literalism that causes men to promote a literal six creative days makes a mockery of the Bible, of our Heavenly Father, and of his provision for our salvation.
Sabbath promotors like Mark Martin and the Seventh Day Adventists need us to accept that God rested on a literal 24-hour day so that they can now promote the idea—again completely unsupported by any evidence in Scripture—that humans were keeping a Sabbath day from the time of creation right down to the introduction of the Mosaic Law. Not only is there no support for that in Scripture, but it ignores the context in which we find the 10 Commandments.
Exegetically, we want to consider the context always. When you look at the 10 commandments, you find that there is no explanation about what it means to not murder, not steal, not commit adultery, not lie. However, when it comes to the Sabbath law, God explains what he means and how it is to be applied. If the Jews had been keeping the Sabbath all along, no such explanation would be necessary. Of course, how could they have kept any kind of Sabbath given that they were slaves and had to work when their Egyptian masters told them to work.
But, again, Mark Martin and the Seventh-day Adventists need us to ignore all this evidence because they want us to believe that the Sabbath predates the law so that they can get around the fact that it is clearly explained in the Christian Scriptures to all of us that the Mosaic law is not applicable to Christians anymore.
Why oh why do they go to all this effort? The reason is something close to many of us who have escaped the bondage and ravages of organized religion.
Religion is all about man dominating man to his injury as Ecclesiastes 8:9 says. If you want a bunch of people to follow you, you need to sell them something that no one else has. You also need them to live in fearful expectation that failing to heed your teachings will lead to their eternal damnation.
For Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Governing Body has to convince their followers to believe they have to attend all the meetings and obey everything the publications tell them to do for fear that if they don’t, when the end comes suddenly, they’ll miss out on valuable, life-saving instruction.
Seventh-day Adventists depend on the same fear that Armageddon is going to come at any moment and unless people are faithful to the Seventh-day Adventist movement, they will be swept away. So, they latch onto the Sabbath, which as we’ve seen was merely a day of rest and make it into a day of worship. You have to worship on the Sabbath Day according to the Jewish calendar—which by the way, didn’t exist in the garden of Eden, did it? You can’t go to other churches because they worship on Sunday, and if you worship on Sunday, you’re going to be destroyed by God because he will be angry with you because that’s not the day he wants you to worship him. You see how it works? You see the parallels between the Seventh-day Adventist church and the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses? It’s a bit scary, isn’t it? But very clear and perceptible by the children of God who know that worshiping God in Spirit and truth means not following the rules of men but being led by Holy Spirit.
The apostle John made this clear when he wrote:
“I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. But you have received the Holy Spirit…so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know…it is not a lie. So just as [the Holy Spirit] has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ. (1 John 2:26,27 NLT)
Do you remember the words of the Samaritan woman to Jesus? She was taught that to worship God in a way that he found acceptable, she had to do so on Mount Gerizim where Jacob’s well was. Jesus told her that formalized worship in a particular place such as Mount Gerizim or at the temple in Jerusalem was a thing of the past.
“But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23,24)
True worshipers are being sought by God to worship him in spirit and truth wherever they want to and whenever they want to. But that won’t work if you’re trying to organize a religion and get people to obey you. If you want to set up your own organized religion, you need to brand yourself as distinct from the rest.
Let’s summarize what we learned from the scriptures about the Sabbath so far. We don’t have to worship God between the hours of 6 PM Friday to 6 PM Saturday to be saved. We don’t even have to take a day of rest between those hours, because we are not under the Mosaic law.
If we are still not allowed to take the Lord’s name in vain, worship idols, dishonour our parents, murder, steal, lie, etc., then why is the Sabbath seemingly an exception? Actually, it isn’t. We are to keep the Sabbath, but just not in the way that Mark Martin, or the Seventh-day Adventists would have us do.
According to the letter to the Hebrews, the Mosaic Law was only a shadow of the things to come:
“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.” (Hebrews 10:1)
A shadow has no substance, but it does indicate the presence of something with real substance. The law with its fourth commandment on the Sabbath was an insubstantial shadow when compared with the reality that is the Christ. Still, the shadow represents the reality that casts it, so we have to ask what is the reality that is represented by the law on the sabbath? We’ll explore that in the next video.
Thank you for watching. If you’d like to be notified of future video releases, click the subscribe button and the notification bell.
If you’d like to support our work, there is a donation link in the description of this video.
Thank you so much.