BLOG: Christian Life as Sabbath Rest
“Why haven’t I heard this before? Is this a new doctrine that you have created? This is the reaction I got from a friend the other day when talking about Hebrews chapter four.
As we read the chapter together, I affirmed that the lives we lead as Christians are marked by not working to earn God’s favor and trusting in Christ’s finished work on the subject. cross to fulfill God’s requirements for salvation. I have said that Christ’s work of earning salvation for us through his death and resurrection is the fulfillment of what God has planned from the foundation of the world (Hebrews 4: 3). The Sabbath day of rest in the Old Testament was a foreshadowing of Christ’s finished work for us. Christ said, “It’s finish!” (John 19:30) on the cross, after all. Thus, the whole Christian life can be considered a sabbatical rest.
“Therefore, a sabbatical rest remains for the people of God. For he who entered into his rest rested from his own works, as God rested from his. (Hebrews 4: 9-10).
My friend was not accusing me of heresy. Instead, he wanted to be careful not to give in to something that was not entirely biblical, because he found the concept of the Christian’s life as the Sabbath so appealing and liberating. And he’s right. If you truly understand the implications of the gospel, it is liberating, not to mention spiritual rest. There is a Sabbath rest for Christians. It’s Jesus. It’s the life we have in Him.
Indeed, the Christian day of worship is traditionally Sunday, but we all need to be clear about the truth that Sunday is not the Christian version of the Sabbath. Those who regard Sunday as holy have every biblical right to do so. As the apostle Paul said, “A person considers that one day is above another. Someone else considers every day the same. Everyone must be fully convinced in their mind. (Rom. 14: 4-5).
However, we need to be clear that Sunday is not mandated as a holy day for Christians in the Bible. As the apostle Paul also said, “Therefore, do not let anyone judge you with regard to food and drink or with regard to a feast or a new moon or a Sabbath day.” (Col. 2:16).
Technically speaking, the reason there is no Christian Sabbath is that Jesus is our sabbath rest, and our life becomes a Sabbath rest from our spiritual works as we walk in Him.
We must be careful not to imply that Christians have a legalistic obligation to obey a Sabbath on Sunday. Such legalism is foreign to the Gospel which says, “For you have been saved by grace through faith, and it is not of your own accord; it is a gift from God, not works, so that no one can boast ” (Eph. 2: 8-9).
I’m not saying this point because I think Christians don’t need to go to church on Sunday because they want to stay home and watch a football game or go fishing. I love the church and believe that Christians should have at least one day per week fully devoted to Christ. Christians need to be with other Christians. The author of Hebrews also encourages believers:
“And let us be mindful of one another in order to promote love and good works, not by staying away from our worship meetings, as some usually do, but by encouraging each other, and d ‘as much as you see the day approaching ” (Hebrews 10: 24-25).
I make this point because Bible teachers can sometimes lead people to believe that if they don’t treat Sunday like the Sabbath, they are sinning. We accumulate guilt on people intentionally and unintentionally. And that’s why my friend breathed a sigh of relief when I told him that his whole life in Christ is like a Sabbath rest.
The idea of the Christian like the rest of the Sabbath because of the life that Jesus gives us in Him seems radical to you? I hope. I hope this will cause you to treat your whole life as holy and apart for Christ. I pray that when you teach the gospel to people, you will spare them the false impression that they are somehow gaining God’s favor by going to church on Sunday. I pray that they see Sunday in the right perspective. It is a special day when we choose to be thankful and worship God for his salvation which is fully paid for by Jesus. As he said,
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11: 28-30)
Its good. Go ahead and rest in Christ. He is our Sabbath!