Christ and the Sabbath



It is important to notice what was done to this day. The record in the second chapter of Genesis, which is the first mention that we have of the Sabbath, says, “He rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.” It is apparent at once that the Creator of the ends of the earth, who never wearies, and who never is faint, did not rest on that first seventh day because he had wearied himself in the work of creation. Said Christ to the woman of Samaria, “God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in Spirit and in truth.” God being spirit, his rest must be spiritual rest. And that is a matter of no small importance, because we overlook the true idea of the Sabbath when we take it to mean merely a day of physical rest. Who rested on that day?-Christ, who was the agent in creation, rested on that day. Because he was tired?-Not in any sense. It was a spiritual rest. He rested and was refreshed. He took delight in viewing the works which he had made. That was the rest. Sabbath means rest, and from the very nature of the institution of the Sabbath, it means spiritual rest. Observe the practical application of that idea. If physical rest is the only idea of the Sabbath, man can rest on one day just as well as another. He can do more; he can divide up his rest during the several days of the week, and he can rest three or four hours each day, as may suit him. He may rest rainy days and work sunshiny days if he pleases, if physical rest is the only idea of the Sabbath. CAS 14.2

Let it be understood that merely refraining from work is not God’s idea of Sabbath-keeping. It may be Sunday-keeping; it may be Saturday-keeping; it may be Friday-keeping; it may be Monday-keeping; but it is not Sabbath-keeping. It is not Sabbath-keeping, because the idea of Sabbath is spiritual rest. And in no other way can the Sabbath be kept in the fullness of its meaning than as a spiritual rest. It will therefore be seen at once that all theories of Sabbath-keeping which rest upon the idea of physical recuperation, are good for nothing. Man can enforce abstinence from labor, but he cannot enforce Sabbath-keeping. A man may be forced to refrain from physical work; he may be kept in idleness, but no one can enforce Sabbath-keeping. It is a spiritual thing entirely. CAS 15.1

It is true that in genuine Sabbath-keeping there will be an entire cessation from unnecessary physical work; but that is not in itself Sabbath-keeping. The reason why we cease from labor on the seventh day, the Sabbath of our Lord Jesus Christ, is that we may be at liberty to contemplate God as manifested to us in Jesus Christ. And the resting from physical labor is an outward sign of the fact that we have ceased from sin. “For we which have believed do enter into rest,” and “he that hath entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works as God did from his.” CAS 15.2

Now our works are always sinful works. The one who is converted, in whom the power of God through Jesus Christ has been manifested to create him anew, to create a new heart in him, stops his own works. His own works are sinful. He ceases from his own works as God did from his. The Sabbath was a memorial of the fact that God in Christ rested from his work. The Sabbath is the sign to the Christian that he has rested from his work, and that the power of God is working in him “both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” When we cease from our works, which are sinful, we are saved from sin. But it is creative power alone which can save from sin, and that creative power is always manifested through Jesus Christ. And this work going on in us is the work of sanctification. Then the blessing of the Sabbath is the blessing of sanctification by the power of God working through Jesus Christ. CAS 15.3