Southshore Elders’ Statement on the Sabbath

Summary Statement:

Jesus is the substance of all the fullness of the Old Covenant, including all holy times.  Therefore, the practical observance of weekly Sabbaths, new moons, annual feasts, Sabbath years, and Jubilee years is no longer binding on New Covenant believers (Romans 14:5–12; Galatians 4:8–12; Colossians 2:16–17).

Detailed Statement:

Throughout history, God has set certain segments of time apart as holy. These holy times, whether they be weekly Sabbaths, new moons, Levitical feasts, Sabbath years, or Jubilee years, are all fulfilled and find their substance in the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:17).

Thus, regarding the Sabbath, or Lord’s Day, each person is bound by the teaching of Scripture and his or her own conscience within the framework of the Christian family (Ephesians 5:22—6:4). One person may esteem one day to be better than another, while another may esteem all days alike. The one who observes the day, ought to observe it in honour of the Lord and the one who does not observe the day, ought to abstain in honour of the Lord (Romans 14:5–12).

We have freedom in Christ to recognize all days as the same. We also have freedom in Christ to set apart some days as distinct (Romans 15:1–7). However, we insist that those who observe special days with greater strictness are not to add to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which teaches that we are saved entirely by grace through faith in Christ according the Scriptures to the glory of God. In no way does the observance of a special day add to – or maintain – one’s right standing or holiness before God. In fact, we encourage any who are so inclined towards this form of legalism to protect themselves by ceasing their formal observance of days and months and seasons and years (Galatians 4:8–12).

Moreover, no one who esteems one day as better than another (Romans 14:5) is to pass judgment on those who do not observe a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but, since Christ has come, the shadows are no longer necessary (Colossians 2:16–17).

Lastly, we do recognize that Jesus commands His church to gather regularly to worship God (Acts 2:42–47; Hebrews 10:24–25). Since the earliest days, the church has gathered on the first day of the week (Sunday) to remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1–2). In keeping with Christ’s command, we expect members to regularly attend Sunday worship and other corporate gatherings of the church as part of our commitment and submission to Christ through Southshore Bible Church. We also encourage all to establish a rhythm of life that intentionally includes weekly times for rest and recreation, all to the glory of God (Genesis 2:2).

 

Appendix: Elder’s Statement on the Lord’s Day

The Hebrew word שַׁבָּת (Sabbath) literally means “to cease” or “to rest.” This appendix shall outline the beliefs of the elders of Southshore Bible Church regarding holy days and times in the Bible.

We believe that the first day set aside by God as holy was the seventh day of history. This Day is unique for two reasons. First, on this day it was who God rested, not man. Second, Scripture does not describe this as a perpetual Sabbath.

  1. God created the heavens and the earth in six days (Gen 1:1—2:1).
  2. On the seventh day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done (Gen 2:2).
  3. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation (Gen 2:3).
  4. Apart from the seventh day, God has been working since the first day (John 5:16–18).

 

We believe that God set aside days and times throughout history to be observed by Israel as holy (Lev 19:3, 30; 26:2, 34–35, 43; Num 15:32–36; 2 Chron 36:20–21; Neh 10:31–3 3; Ezek 20:12–32; 22:8, 26).

  1. Every seventh day during Israel’s wilderness wandering was to be kept by Israel as a Sabbath (Exod 16:23–39).
  2. Every seventh day after God established His covenant with Israel was to be kept by Israel as a Sabbath (Exod 20:8–11; 31:12–17; 35:1–3; Lev 23:3; Num 28:9–10; Deut 5:12–15; Neh 9:13–14; 13:15–22).
  3. Once a month, on the first day of the month (new moon), offerings were to be made (Num 28:11–15)
  4. Once a year, on the fourteenth day of the first month, Israel was to keep the Passover (Ex 12:1–6; Lev 23:5; Num 28:16).
  5. Once a year, from the fifteenth to twenty-second days of the first month, Israel was to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, with the fifteenth and twenty-second days being days for a holy convocation (Lev 23:6–8; Num 28:17–25).
  6. On the day after the Sabbath of the harvest, Israel was to keep the Feast of Firstfruits (Lev 23:9–14).
  7. Seven full weeks after Firstfruits, Israel was to keep the Feast of Weeks (Lev 23:15–22, Num 28:26–31).
  8. Once a year, on the first day of the seventh month, Israel was to keep the Feast of Trumpets (Lev 23:23–25; Num 29:1–6).
  9. Once a year, on the tenth day of the seventh month, Israel was to keep the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:29–31, 23:26–32; Num 29:7–11).
  10. Once a year, on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, Israel was to keep the Feast of Booths for eight days (Lev 23:33–36, 39–43; Num 29:12–38).
  11. Every seventh year was to be kept by Israel as a Sabbath year (Lev 25:1–7).
  12. Every fiftieth year was to be kept by Israel as a Jubilee year (Lev 25:8–17).

 

We believe that the weekly Sabbath of the Old Covenant between Israel and God was to remind Israel that God is their Creator and Saviour.

  1. The weekly Sabbath is a sign and a reminder to Israel that God is Creator (Exod 20:11; 31:17).
  2. The weekly Sabbath is a sign and a reminder to Israel that God is Saviour (Deut 5:15).

 

We believe the priesthood was commanded to work on the Old Covenant Sabbaths and holy days.

  1. The high priest was to officiate over the Day of Atonement (Lev 16)
  2. Priests offered burnt offerings on the weekly Sabbath (Num 28:9–10)
  3. Priests worked on weekly Sabbaths, new moons, and feasts (Lev 24:5–9; 1 Chron 9:31–32; 23:28 – 32; 2 Chron 2:4; 8:12–13; 31:2–3; Matt 12:5)

 

We believe that God was not pleased with Sabbath-keeping void of fidelity to Him.

  1. God desires justice and righteousness (Isa 1:12–17; 56:1–8; 58:1–14; Ezek 23:36–45; Matt 12:7).
  2. God will annul holy convocations and punish Israel for their sin (Jer 17:19–27; Lam 2:6; Hos 2:11; Amos 8:1–8).

 

We believe that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, which means that, as the One who instituted the Sabbath, Jesus has authority to interpret its function and right practice (Matt 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5).

  1. Jesus reminds the Pharisees that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27; Exod 23:12; Deut 5:14).
  2. Jesus acknowledges that allowances are made when it is for the good of God’s people.
  • Jesus’ disciples plucked grain (Matt 12:1–2; Mark 2:23–24; Luke 6:1–2).
  • David ate the bread of Presence (Matt 12:3–4; Mark 2:25–26; Luke 6:3–4).
  • Priests profane the Sabbath by working (see IV) (Matt 12:5).
  • Jesus taught in the Synagogues (Mark 1:21–22; Mark 6:1–2; Luke 4:16–21, 31–32; 6:6; 13:10).
  • Jesus taught in the Temple at the Feast of Booths (John 7:14).
  • Simon’s mother-in-law served Jesus, Simon, Andrew, James, and John (Mark 1:31).
  • Circumcision can be done (John 7:22).
  • Teaching is done in the synagogue (Acts 15:21).

3.  Jesus commands that we are to do good on the Sabbath.

  • Jesus affirms it is right to lift a sheep/son/ox from a pit on the Sabbath (Matt 12:11–12; Luke 14:5).
  • Jesus affirms it is right to water a sheep or a donkey on the Sabbath (Luke 13:15).
  • Jesus affirms it is right to heal on the Sabbath (John 7:21–24).
  • Jesus healed a man with a withered hand (Matt 12:9–14; Mark 3:1–6; Luke 6:6–11).
  • Jesus cast out demons (Mark 1:23–28; Luke 4:33–36).
  • Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law (Mark 1:29–31).
  • Jesus healed a woman with a hunched back (Luke 13:11–13).
  • Jesus healed a man with dropsy (Luke 14:1–6).
  • Jesus healed a man who was unable to walk (John 5:1–9).
  • Jesus healed a blind man (John 9:1–16).

4.  Jesus is angered and grieved with legalistic Sabbath-keeping.

  • As in the case of the man with the withered hand (Mark 3:5).
  • As in the case of the woman with a hunched back (Luke 13:14–17).

 

We believe that missionaries of the early church met with Jews in the synagogues (or elsewhere) on the Sabbath.

  1. Paul and his companions attended the synagogue (Acts 13:14, 44).
  2. Paul taught in the synagogues (Acts 13:15–44; 17:1–4; 18:4).
  3. Lydia was converted in Philippi by the riverside (Acts 16:11–15).

 

We believe that the apostolic church gathered to worship God on the first day of the week, the Day on which Jesus was raised from the dead (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:1–2)

  1. John refers to the “Lord’s Day.” This may have been a reference to the weekly or annual remembrance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rev 1:10).

 

We believe that all Sabbaths and holy days find their fulfillment and substance in Jesus Christ.

  1. Jesus died on Friday (Day 6, when God created humanity), was buried for the duration of Saturday (Day 7, when God rested), and was raised as the firstfruits of the New Creation on Sunday (Day 1, when God created Light) (Matt 28:1; Mark 15:42—16:6; Luke 23:54—24:1; John 19:31—20:1).
  2. The weekly Sabbath points to the eschatological Sabbath rest of God with His saints in the New Heavens and the New Earth on the other side of judgment. The Old Covenant does not deliver ultimate rest, but mere shadows of this rest (Isa 66:15–24; Heb 3:7—4:13; Col 2:16–17).
  3. Since Jesus is the substance of all the fullness of the Old Covenant, including all holy days, the observance of weekly Sabbaths, new moons, and annual feasts is no longer binding on New Covenant believers (Rom 14:5–12; Gal 4:8–12; Col 2:16–17).

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