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True Sabbath Keeping

Matthew 11:28-30


I want you to see from the Scriptures that every sinner who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ keeps the Sabbath by faith, by entering into his rest (Hebrews 4:3, 9-10). We do not keep a literal, carnal Sabbath of any kind. Ours is a Sabbath of faith, a spiritual Sabbath. Because Sabbath keeping was a legal type of our salvation in Christ during the age of carnal ordinances, like the Passover and circumcision, once Christ came and fulfilled the type, the carnal ordinance ceased. — We are not carnal Sabbath keepers, but spiritual Sabbath keepers, true Sabbath keepers.


Sabbath Keeping Forbidden

In the New Testament, we are strictly and directly forbidden to keep any of those carnal ordinances of the law. In fact, we are plainly told that those who attempt to worship God on the grounds of legal ordinances are yet under the curse of the law. They have not yet learned the gospel.

      As Paul puts it in Colossians 2:23, those who pretend to keep a literal (legal) Sabbath in this gospel age (for any reason) make an outward show of spirituality and wisdom; but it is all will-worship. Such pretenses of humility are nothing but the satisfying of the flesh.

      Not only that, the whole matter of Sabbath keeping is strictly forbidden by the Holy Spirit in Colossians 2:16-17. Since the Lord Jesus Christ has, by his death at Calvary, blotted out the handwriting of the ordinances that was against us, since he nailed God’s broken law to the cross and put away our sins, he alone is our Sabbath. We rest in him. All carnal Sabbath keeping, any form of it, is strictly forbidden on the basis of the fact that in Christ all true believers are totally free from the law (Romans 7:4; 10:4).


Sabbath of Faith

But we do keep the Sabbath day. It is our soul’s great delight to do so. We keep the Sabbath by faith in Christ, resting in him. Christ is our Sabbath (Hebrews 4:3, 9, 10). We keep a spiritual Sabbath, not a carnal one. We rest in Christ, trusting his finished work, by faith entering into his rest. The believer’s life is a perpetual keeping of the Sabbath, ever looking to Christ, ever coming to Christ, ever resting in Christ.

      Our all glorious Christ gives rest to every sinner who comes to him in faith. As the ceremonial Sabbath portrayed a strict, universal consecration to God, so this blessed Sabbath of faith involves the perpetual consecration of ourselves to our God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. We keep the Sabbath of faith when we willfully, deliberately take the yoke of Christ. If you would keep the Sabbath, it involves much, much more than living in religious austerity one day a week. To keep the Sabbath is to bow to Christ’s dominion. To keep the Sabbath is to learn of him what to believe, how to live, what to do, how to honor God. To keep the Sabbath is to bow to his will.

      How can a troubled, weary, heavy laden, tempest tossed sinner obtain this blessed Sabbath rest? — I can tell you, both from experience and from the Word of God, there is only one way you can enter into his rest. You’ve got to quit working! You have to trust Christ alone for everything! — God will never accept the works of your hands. But he has accepted the work of his Son’s hand. Will you rest your soul upon the finished work of Christ alone?




Don Fortner








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