KEEPING the SABBATH
BY: LLOYD ELLEFSON
Greetings in the name of the Lord to the household of God, and especially to those who can hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
Nowadays many Christians are reverting to keeping days like Israel did, e.g. Sabbath days and feast days – according to their times and seasons. If they would have a spiritual understanding of them, they would quit emphasizing them. Paul wrote, “Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.” (1 Thess. 5:1-2) The day of the Lord doesn’t come in times or days – as Mondays, Tuesdays, etc.; nor does it come in feast days, October days, etc.
We say the Sabbath is a day of rest, but our understanding of rest does not cover its complete meaning. It actually means to cease, to stop, to be finished with it, to end it, not to do it anymore. We are to cease doing our own works! We are not to revert to our own works for righteousness! If we are doing good works for the sake of becoming righteous, or appearing more righteous, we are seeking our own righteousness. Works are a part of the law principle – man endeavoring to do something to please and satisfy God and his own conscience.
In the Old Testament we find the law of sin and death and the law of Moses. It includes more than the Ten Commandments. In the New Testament there is another law, namely, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. This law overcomes or supersedes the other laws. The fruit of the other laws disappears in the law of life.
Our understanding of keeping the Sabbath is generally based on Genesis 2:2. “By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which he had done.” His work of creation was finished in six days; on the seventh day there was no more work, so God stopped working. God saw that His creation was good, so He rested from all His works on the seventh day. This is the rest that is typified by all the Sabbaths.
In the description of the time periods of creation it says “And there was evening and there was morning, one day.” (Gen. 1:5) Did He begin His creative work on Sunday? Was day 4 a Wednesday? Did He create the sun and the moon on Wednesday? Actually those days were not called Sunday, Monday, Tuesday; nor were they calendar days. In God there is no time; neither is there any time in Christ, for Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Jesus came into this veil of flesh through Mary. Although He lived under the law for thirty years, He came to redeem those who were under the law; to redeem us from the law so that we could live in a relationship with God that does not consist of dos and don’ts. After Jesus received the Spirit at the Jordan River, He no longer lived in the dos and don’ts of the law, because He lived by the Spirit of oneness in His relationship with God! The law no longer exercised its control over Him, but He still attended the feast days because it was the thing the Father wanted Him to do. It was natural for Him to please the Father! In His recognition of the perfect will of God and His own inability to do the will of God, He said, “I can do nothing of Myself…the Father in Me does the works.” The Father could do His work through Him because of the oneness of His relationship with His Son! As God’s children, we are growing in this relationship, and will be continuing to progress in this relationship until we reach the same fullness of relationship that Christ enjoyed with the Father! If we understand that the Father is doing the works, we are in grace; if we are doing the works, we are in the law. This is not just a mental concept; it has to be understood spiritually!
The Sabbath contains a spiritual concept. We can’t specify a literal day that God rested. It was the seventh day, but it had nothing to do with our days of the week. It simply means that He had finished or completed His work.
Before the law came, no one was keeping the seventh day or Sabbath as a day of rest. During the time period from Adam to Moses there was no oral nor written law. No one had ever heard of keeping the Sabbath. Keeping the Sabbath came with the Lord’s commandment, and its observance is first recorded in Exodus 16 in connection with picking up the manna. They were to gather the manna daily for 6 days, but on the sixth day they were to gather enough for two days, for no manna would fall on the seventh day. Jesus said, “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world…I am the bread of life…Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.” (Jn. 6:33,35a, 49) He is the bread for the seventh day! This bread has nothing to do with works, for they did not gather food on that day! God is now providing food in the form of grace, and it is not dependent on works! And so it is that no Sabbath was kept until manna was provided. (Exod. 16).
The Ten Commandments are found in Exodus 20. This law is called the law of Moses because he was the mediator of this covenant. The people did not want God to speak to them directly, so the law was given through Moses. The law was a covenant that God made with His people. It is now called the old covenant because a new and better one has come! And Jesus Christ is the mediator of this new covenant! It is ours in Jesus Christ! Since the new has come, the old is no longer valid; it has ended! “He takes away the first in order to establish the second.” (Heb. 10:9)
The prophecies of the Old Testament are fulfilled in Christ! He is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets – and I mean fulfillment! It is all in Christ! The fulfillment and the fullness of all is in Him! If we think Jesus Christ is a man sitting up in the sky and coming back to earth in a physical body, we are mistaken. That understanding will never get us into Christ; it won’t get us to know what it means to be in Christ. We will never understand that He made the circumcision and uncircumcision into one new man, so making peace.
The third commandment says, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Exod. 20:8) At that time years were divided into months and days; there are many early references to the first day of the month rather than the first day of the week. Their days were not named by their present names. They had heard about gathering manna for 6 days, and resting on the seventh, but that was about the extent of their understanding. It is interesting to note that the Jews celebrated many Sabbaths – not only the one on the seventh day. Some of the feast-day Sabbaths lasted 7 days or so.
Keeping the Sabbath began with the Law of Moses. So anyone who keeps the Sabbath literally, is still under the Law of Moses. Paul mentions the law in Rom. 2:19-20. He said, “And are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth.” The Law of Moses was a form of knowledge and a form of truth. It only represented something. Before the law was given, there was no instruction about keeping the Sabbath; people didn’t know about it. Therefore, to insist on keeping the Sabbath meant they were familiar with the law. To be confident in the law – a form of truth – means that you are a guide to the blind. Actually though, you are only teaching a form of knowledge and truth that is in the law.
Jesus did many things that a traditional Jew would not do! He often healed people on the Sabbath. He healed a man’s withered arm on the Sabbath in the synagogue! He entered a Pharisee’s home on the Sabbath, healed a man of dropsy, and got the Pharisees upset. On one such occasion He healed a woman who was bent double, which caused the ruler of the synagogue to become very indignant. He said, “There are six days in which work should be done; so come during them and get healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” (Luke 13:14b) Jesus called him a hypocrite for saying that! In John 7:23 Jesus said, “If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath?” He was indicting them because they were contradicting themselves. They circumcised (worked) on the Sabbath so the law would not be broken – on the day when the law forbade them to do any work. In order to keep the law they had to break the law! Jesus also talked about David eating the showbread which was only for the priests. His disciples plucked grain on the Sabbath and ate the kernels of wheat, which was interpreted as work. It became quite obvious that He was doing these things for a purpose. The Pharisees got everyone upset because they claimed Jesus was annulling or breaking the Sabbath by doing these things. Jesus explained that the Sabbath was not made for man. He said the Son of Man was Lord also of the Sabbath.
The law was only a form of truth. Truth came in types and shadows; knowledge beyond the form did not come until Jesus Christ appeared. He is the reality; He is the day of the Lord, the enlightenment, the light of the world! Therefore the light in Jesus Christ illuminates us and shows us what it really means to enter into God’s rest; it means our labor does not originate from the dictates of the law. Most fundamentalists – Pentecostals, Adventists, Baptists, etc., say they are under grace and not under law, yet their teaching and activities are based on the law principle.
“For this reason Moses has given you circumcision (not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers); and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man.” (Jn. 7:22) Circumcision began with Abraham – before the law was given. “For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” (Gal. 6:15) The new man is the Christ man, He’s the Son of Man, He’s the anointed One, He is the Christ! It is interesting to note that the expression, the Lord’s Christ (some translations read the Lord and His Christ) is mentioned three times in the New Testament – Luke 2:26, Acts 4:26, Rev. 11:15. That means the Lord’s Anointed. The titles CHRIST, ANOINTED and MESSIAH are all translated from the Greek word CHRISTOS. They mean the anointed One. He that is anointed is of God. It is also used in reference to the anointing.
God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 10:38) “He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.” (Acts 2:33b) It is God in Christ who anoints us. We have been regenerated spiritually if we are anointed by the Spirit! The understanding of spiritual realities comes to us by the Holy Spirit. No amount of explanation can clarify spiritual things to the natural man – he cannot conceive them because they are spiritually discerned.
Natural man’s knowledge of the Bible only produces pride. It gives knowledge, but not revelation knowledge. When Peter received revelation knowledge from God (not from reading the Bible), it was only received in his natural mind. He said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:16) This insight or revelation had not come from flesh and blood, but the Father in heaven had revealed this to him. (v.17) Shortly after this, in reference to Jesus, Peter said, “I don’t know the Man.“ He denied Jesus three times. Even the revelation that comes from God, when given to the natural man, will not produce fruit. It only produced fruit in Peter after he had received the Holy Spirit! Before the cross, the Spirit had not been poured out. Before Jesus could pour Himself out in the Spirit, the Spirit first had to be released by Christ’s death and resurrection!
Many claim that a Christian is automatically filled with the Holy Spirit when he is born again. This is not the case, as we read in Acts chapters 2, 8, and 19. People had been baptized for repentance, they had received forgiveness, but they had not been baptized by the Holy Spirit. After they had been baptized in the name of Jesus, Paul laid his hands on them, and the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. (Acts 19:1-7) The Holy Spirit comes on the regenerated – those who have received forgiveness of sins.
The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth; He is our teacher! The law was our teacher to bring us to Christ. Now that Christ has come, the law is no longer our teacher. Christ now has to teach us what the Sabbath is. If we are not taught by the Spirit, we will operate in what we think it is. A battle ensues between what seems right to the natural mind and what is right spiritually. This is the biggest battle, and we may well call it the battle of Armageddon.
Jesus spoke truth, and this was very disruptive to the natural man. For the Jewish people – a people proud of their ancestry, laws, traditions and knowledge of God – to be told that they didn’t know God, that they didn’t have God’s Word dwelling in them, and that they didn’t know Him whom God had sent, was very aggravating! Jesus told them that they didn’t believe Moses – what a stinging accusation! How that must have hurt! They also received honor from men! (John 5)
Jesus was obviously representing the true image of God when He said that, otherwise He wouldn’t have said it. He was the exact representation of God! The Jews were ignorant of the true nature of God; they were worshiping a god of their own conception! So they didn’t agree with what Jesus said. In fact they were so angry that they wanted to kill Him. The truth Jesus spoke was simply an indictment which the Jews did not believe nor receive.
Things change when we hear the voice of the Spirit. The Spirit brings us the Christ, the exact image and true representation of God. Paul said neither circumcision nor uncircumcision make any difference now. (Gal. 6:15) Circumcision came before the law, and was later incorporated into the law. But these things don’t concern us now. The only thing that matters is a new creation! The new creation in Christ Jesus sees things spiritually!
As the Son of Man, Jesus demonstrated that He was the Immanuel (God with us). When we have received the baptism of the Spirit and have realized a change of nature, we are incorporated into the Son of Man. There is one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ. (1 Tim. 2:5) It is the Son of Man who mediates between the spiritual and the natural. As long as we are in this body we are aware of the natural; when we are in Christ we become aware of the spiritual. If we only see everything from the natural viewpoint, we are mediating everything like Moses did. But Moses was unable to mediate on the same level as Jesus Christ!
The reason Jesus Christ did so many things on the Sabbath, was to show that He is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. In Luke 4 we read that He opened a scroll on the Sabbath, and He read that God had anointed Him to open the eyes of the blind and to heal, etc. He said, “This day is this fulfilled in your ears.” It was not fulfilled in their hearts but in their ears! He was prophesying that the real fulfillment comes when we receive the Christ – when we are in Christ and Christ is in us!
We have to understand that in Christ we have a consciousness of God; this is given to us in the Spirit. He has opened up our minds; His light has shone into us and brought enlightenment and understanding that takes away the darkness of our natural mind. Jesus is building His church on truth that comes to us in spiritual revelation! He is not building on the words of the Bible but on Himself – and He is the truth! Truth always has to be Christ! Anything else is error. Christ is Spirit. He lives in light – in an enlightenment that no man can approach or see. (1 Tim. 6:16)
Jesus performed miracles on the Sabbath to demonstrate that entering into the Sabbath means entering into the fulfillment of God’s promises. God wants us to know that just as He feeds all the birds, so He also provides for all our needs in Christ Jesus. Therefore we are not to take any thought for the morrow. Everything is available to us if we believe that God has finished His work!
“The law and the prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached…” (Luke 16:16) The law and the prophets end when the kingdom of God is preached. “Gifts of prophecy will cease.” (1 Cor.13:8) “But when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.” (v.10) It ends in fulfillment, and Christ is the fulfillment! Jesus has fulfilled the law and the prophets. All the promises of God have their yes and Amen in Christ. We are new creatures now and are growing in Christ – growing into fulfillment!
Christ has become our righteousness! We are not becoming righteous – we are righteous! God has declared us righteous and we can’t become more righteous than we are right now! We can’t add to it nor take away from it. Therefore it is useless to think we can make ourselves more righteous through our obedience to the law; it is obedience to the Spirit that is important, for He keeps us from sinning! Growing in this realization delivers us from error. “And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32)
“Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week…” (Matt. 28:1) The Concordant reads, “Now it is the evening of the SABBATHS. At the lighting up into one of the SABBATHS, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to behold the sepulcher.” (Capitalization ours) The Sabbath began in the evening and continued to the next evening. Jesus was crucified just before the Sabbath Passover began, and was raised from the dead during the Passover week. He was crucified just before a Sabbath and was raised at the end of another Sabbath – as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week. Two Sabbaths followed in close succession because the feast of unleavened bread, the Passover, lasted 7 days. And those 7 days were not over when this was happening.
Why is this important? Many people feel that the Sabbath has been changed from Saturday to Sunday. The first day of the week is called Sunday. However the Saturday has not changed to Sunday. Keeping the Sabbath does not consist of observing either Saturday or Sunday. Keeping the Sabbath means ENTERING INTO REST – the cessation of all our works, and beginning TO LIVE IN THE SPIRIT. Living in the Spirit brings a change of desires. We used to do things for selfish reasons to bring honor to ourselves or to gain righteousness. Now our desires have changed; we no longer think that pleasing God is a negative or difficult duty. Our actions are governed by our desire to please the Lord and are initiated by Him. We now see the necessity of entering into God’s rest, i.e. keeping the Sabbath.
“For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation. This is My resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it.” (Psalm 132:13-14) This is a beautiful Psalm. Zion is called God’s resting place! David brought the ark of the Covenant to its resting place in Zion. It became known as a place of deliverance and salvation; a place of praise and worship – the city of God! Jesus is the light of a new creation; He is the day of the Lord that has no beginning, no ending and no darkness! It is exciting to see that after the evening of the Sabbath, a new day dawned – this first day of the week was another Sabbath. So we see that there are many Sabbaths, there are many Saturdays, many Sundays. But the rest of God is different. It is a continuous day!
There is a lot of repetition in the law. The priests lived and died; offerings for their own sins and for the sins of others had to be repeated constantly. (Hebrews 10:1) But Christ put an end to that. The Sabbath represents an eternal rest from our works. This is fulfilled in Jesus Christ; it is not fulfilled in days and time, but in eternity. Jesus Christ is the day of the Lord! Jesus said that the Son of Man is Lord over the Sabbath, and that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Matt. 12:8; Mark 2:27) In other words, we were not made to keep the Sabbath day. That day is to represent an eternal rest from our works.
This does not mean that we can’t do anything on that day. Christ did everything the Father told Him to do and we can follow His example! But He did not keep the dictates of the law; it was not nagging at Him with its “Thou shalt not” and “Thou shalt”, because He did not live by the law. When we have His Spirit, we also do what the Father tells us to do.
Paul said, “…examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5) How do we picture Christ in us? It says that we are the body of Christ. Does He have more than one body? Does He have another body in heaven or can we believe that we really are the body of Christ? Natural reasoning results in unbelief of spiritual realities. Those who can’t believe spiritual things, revert to almost full legalism of the law. They claim that Christ has made them new creatures by forgiving their sins, but forgiveness is for the old man. It relieves us temporarily of our guilt-consciousness, but it continually returns at each infraction of the law. The law does not help us to grow in Christ!
The Passover typifies Israel‘s liberation from Egypt, the house of bondage. Moses was not yet mediating the law when he led the people out of Egypt, but he was mediating from God. After crossing the Red Sea, the waters of separation, they were taken into the desert. Fifty days after the Israelites left Egypt, they came to Mt. Sinai and there they got the law. In addition to the ordinances, it contained the pattern for building the temple and its contents. Its fulfillment in the New Testament, came fifty days after Jesus was crucified. At Pentecost God gave us a new law – the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
The hardships of the desert created many problems. The Israelites thought the good food they had enjoyed in their slavery was worth more than their life under God’s leading and direction, so they wanted to go back to Egypt. God got angry with them and He swore in His wrath that they wouldn’t enter the Promised Land. They couldn’t enter because of their unbelief; only those of faith could enter the Promised Land. This pictures the way God dealt with those who didn’t have the faith to enter the Promised Land – which represented the kingdom of God. Forty years later, a new generation came to the Jordan River. The exchange of twelve stones from the Jordan to the new land and vise versa, signified a change of government.
Many years later Jesus came to John the Baptist who was baptizing at the same Jordan River that the Israelites had crossed in order to get into the Promised Land. There Jesus changed the government of His own life from law to Spirit. He lived 30 years under the law, and 3 and 1/2 years under the dominion of the Holy Spirit.
“As I swore in My wrath, `They shall not enter My rest.’“ (Heb. 3:11) Entering the Promised Land was a picture of entering God’s rest. The law can only take us to the Promised Land, but it cannot take us into it. That is why God did not allow Moses to enter it. On Mt. Nebo, God let Moses see the Promised Land, but he was not allowed in. Only two men of the old generation, Joshua and Caleb, were allowed in because they were men of faith. They form a double witness of faith. FAITH TOOK THEM INTO THE PROMISED LAND! Eventually the Israelites left the faith, followed other gods, and were taken captive into Babylon. Spiritual revelation does not operate in the natural man. This is always the case.
“Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me. For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses?” (vv.15-16) We know that everyone over 20 years of age at the time they refused to enter the promised land, died off in the wilderness. It was a new generation – a regeneration – that came into the Promised Land.
“And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.” (vv.18-19) It doesn’t require any belief to keep the Sabbath by refraining from doing certain things. Anyone can do that. The problem is that if we try to keep one day as a rest day, we have to determine what we can do and what we can’t do on that day. Can we enjoy some entertainment, like going to the movies? Do we refrain from eating certain foods? Can we travel, and if so, how far? Can we travel for missionary reasons but not for personal enjoyment? Laws bring limitations. The one law of keeping the Sabbath spawns other laws of what we are allowed to do and what is forbidden. Some people will take more liberties than others – just like the Jews did. This produces arguments, divisions and animosity. Laws are interpreted differently by different people.
“Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.” (Heb. 4:1-2) Why didn’t they hear it? Why wasn’t it united with faith? He who hears the voice of the Son of God shall live! If the good news is not UNITED WITH FAITH it remains in the death realm. We have to hear the Spirit of the word before it has meaning for us.
“For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, `As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest,’ although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has thus said somewhere concerning the seventh day, `And God rested on the seventh day from all His works.'” (vv. 3-4) He is saying that the real entering into rest has to do with entering God’s rest, not with keeping a certain day.
In Rom. 14:5 Paul says that if anyone regards one day greater than another, let him be fully convinced in his own mind. Don’t try to make others keep that certain day. What is the real Sabbath? It is entering into rest – A REST FROM OUR OWN WORKS!
“And again in this passage, `They shall not enter My rest.’ Therefore since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience…so there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” (Heb. 4:5-6,9-11) Then he goes on to say what the word of God is.
Now what about the day of the Lord? Does it refer to a Saturday Sabbath in contrast to a Sunday Sabbath? Or has it a different meaning? In 1 Thess. 5:1-2, 5 Paul says, “Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night…For you are all sons of light and sons of day.” The day of the Lord is mentioned in both the Old and the New Testament. Many think the day of the Lord refers to the big tribulation that is thought to come in the end time. But God does not give us tribulation. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not charging our sins to our account. So if we are in Christ, and God is operating through us, neither do we charge sin to people’s accounts. We are declaring the righteous day of the Lord – the resurrection day. NOW is the day of salvation! The day of the Lord is always NOW! It is never tomorrow, and it’s never yesterday.
Let’s think of what the day of the Lord means. Day consists of light. Jesus Christ is the light that lights every man that comes into the world. He is the light that enlightens us! Paul said, “You are children of the day.” And Peter said that the day of the Lord is going to dawn in our hearts. We are already birthed into this day if we have heard the word and believed it! The day of the Lord is unseen just as the kingdom of God is unseen. It doesn’t come with observation. That means we can’t say it’s here or there; we can’t say Christ is here or there. (Matt. 24)
Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mk. 1:15) He came preaching repentance, and saying that the time is fulfilled. For man the time was fulfilled, but Jesus was not living in time – He was living in eternity. He brought the message of an endless life, of which Melchizedek was a type. The day of the Lord is an endless day, and it is present now. Anything that has no end has to have a NOW in our consciousness. So the day of the Lord is a very interesting study. In Malachi it says that the day of the Lord is going to bring tragedy to people. How can it do that? The day of the Lord is light, and light brings judgment. For those who are not living in the light, judgment brings big trouble. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.”
In 1 Cor. 3:11-13a it says, “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it.” The great judgment of God is day; it is enlightenment. The day of salvation is always today! Enlightenment always comes as a judgment on those who aren’t enlightened; it judges our wrong thinking.
“If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.” (v.14) And what is the reward? The reward is Christ. “If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” (v.15) John prophesied of Christ saying, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Jesus said, “I came to bring fire on the earth, and I would that it is kindled already.” This is the judgment by fire. Gold and silver are PURIFIED by FIRE; if there is no gold and silver present, everything will be burned like hay and stubble.
All of man’s effort to produce his own righteousness under the law are an exercise in futility, because MAN’S EFFORT IS NOT GOD’S WORK! Let us understand that Jesus came to fulfill the law, and if we are in Christ, the law is fulfilled. Christ is our life! “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3) This cannot be believed in the natural, but when we hear the Spirit, we can receive it by faith. An example of man’s effort is found in the Old Testament. In Samuel’s time, the Israelites wanted to have a king like the other nations. They wanted to live in the natural realm. In effect Samuel said, “You don’t need a king, you have God.” But they insisted on having a king. Man likes to be in control; he likes honor and glory. A visible king would personify the glory of man. They got their king, but it did not work out for them, because man’s effort is not God’s work.
Before the law was given nobody knew about the Sabbath day. When the Law of Moses came, the people were instructed to keep it. When Christ came, He became the rest of God for us! He was the Lord of the Sabbath, He was over the Sabbath and He fulfilled the Sabbath! He became our enlightenment of God’s knowledge in the Spirit, because Christ comes to us in the Spirit. Jesus came to redeem those who were under the law. (Gal.4) The Spirit of the Son has come into our hearts and makes us sons of God! What more can we ask for? The things we want, like heaven, life, peace, eternity and assurance, do not come to us apart from Christ! They come to us in Christ! He doesn’t give us these things, He IS these things to us! This is the difference!
“Having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” (Col. 2:12) We were buried with Him in baptism, and have risen with Him in His resurrection. When He died, we died; when He was raised, we were raised; when He is coming, we are coming with Him because we are IN Him! He is coming with His saints!
“Having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us…” (v.14) The Law of Moses consists of decrees which are against us; they work against the Spirit of God in us and against our liberty in Christ; they work against our oneness in Christ. The law puts us back under the law as servants who have to obey its dos and don’ts.
“When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day – things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.” (vv.15-17) Paul made no distinction between one Sabbath and another. All these holy days, these Sabbaths, are just shadows, because the substance or the body is the Christ. The reality of all these things is Christ.
Christ is not a man, nor is He confined to a particular location. Jesus Christ is the Son of God who cannot be seen, touched and felt physically. He cannot be understood by the natural mind. He is revealed to us spiritually by the Father. Christ is the Son of the living God! (Matt. 16:16) He is not the God the Jews imagined Him to be; neither is He the God the organized church imagines Him to be.
In Jesus Christ there is no more law, no more sin and death, because we have been translated from the law of sin and death into the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. This is for now! It is all in Christ Jesus! And Paul said, “Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that JESUS CHRIST IS IN YOU – unless indeed you fail the test. But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test.” (2 Cor. 13:5b-6) If we do not realize that Christ is in us, we fail the test. If Christ is in us, we have the things which Christ represents! In order to have them we have to be in Christ! Then we will be like Christ! It is the Father in us who will do the works just as He did in Jesus Christ! As we believe this, it will be easy to relinquish our old nature! May the Lord give you understanding. God bless you. Amen.
KEEPING the SABBATH [Lloyd Ellefson] 1