The next text I studied was Romans 14. Here Paul takes a softer approach. The Jewish and Gentile Christians are living side by side. There are some who are highly concerned about food that might have been offered to idols, and others are saying that idols do not exist, so they eat just about anything. But some are judging one another’s spirituality based on these behaviors. Paul steps in to mediate in the dispute. It is in this context that the holiness of certain days over others comes up again. Here it is an issue of Christian unity, not one of requirement for salvation, so his approach is much more gentle. Notice how Romans 14 reads: 

Romans 14:5–6 (KJV) One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. 6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

Paul is again making the same basic statement, though in much gentler language. He is declaring once again, that the sacredness of days is no longer an issue for Christians.

As long as people are fully convinced in their own minds, he has no issue with people observing days as a part of their own spiritual discipline, but it must not become an issue of passing judgment on others. We find as we have seen before, Sabbath should never be confused with a person’s salvation. Again, Paul makes Sabbath a non-issue for New Testament Christians. His instructions carry some strong implications for those who would make the Sabbath a “saving truth” or a standard by which to judge the orthodoxy of other Christians. I had to take a hard look at some of the things I had been taught and had myself taught while in the Adventist ministry. Under the teachings of the Adventist denomination I had been unconsciously ignoring these warnings and the truth of the New Covenant.

Next in my study, I went to the book of Hebrews, starting with Chapters 3 and 4. (It would be helpful to read this entire scripture before reading my comments.) As I began to study these chapters, I noticed that the word today is used 5 times. The emphasis in this passage is on an action that can and must take place today. I also noticed that the children of Israel did not enter God’s rest because of unbelief. They rested on the Sabbath each week in the wilderness because if they hadn’t they would have been executed for Sabbath breaking. Sabbath rest was not an option in those days; it was a life or death requirement. Even so, with the strict Sabbath observance of the Old Covenant, they did not enter into God’s rest. Why? They missed out because of unbelief. Even when [Joshua] a type of Jesus led them into the Promised Land, they still did not enter that rest. Now notice Hebrews 4:

Hebrews 4:3–10 (KJV) For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. 5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remaineth therefore a rest [Sabbatismos in Greek which means Sabbath-like rest] to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

The author of Hebrews is saying that those who believe in Jesus are resting in a Sabbath-like rest. The key to rest is belief. The time to enter that rest is another day called today! It bears repeating that starting in Hebrews three, where this topic begins, the word today is mentioned five times. The Sabbath-like rest that is offered to us in Christ is a today experience. It is ours today and every day as we trust in Christ’s righteousness and rest from any trust in our own works. This is not an instruction to keep Sabbath, as I had been taught in the SDA schools. It is a daily rest experience in Jesus as we rest from our own works as He did from His. The day to enter that rest is today. Here again I discovered that the New Testament considers the Sabbath to be a fulfilled institution. Here again the Scriptures clearly indicate that Jesus is our Sabbath-like rest. When we trust Him by faith, we are experiencing Sabbath-like rest each and every day of our lives! What a beautiful concept! Jesus is your Sabbath and mine when we trust daily in Him. My eyes were starting to see another perspective I had never seen before. There are some who have tried to make this text a reason for continued Sabbath keeping, but that ignores the context of the passage. It also ignores the greater context of the book of Hebrews. The entire book is dedicated to showing the superiority of Christ over the Old Testament system. For example, Hebrews one emphasizes His superiority over the whole Old Testament Scriptures (Heb. 1:1-3). In verses four and following, He is shown as being superior to all the angels. In chapter three He is seen as being superior to Moses; in chapters 5-7 He is superior to all the priests, introducing a new order, the order of Melchizedek. In chapters 8-10 He is a greater sanctuary/temple, a greater sacrifice, and a greater covenant. The entire book of Hebrews is about Jesus being “superior to” and the “fulfillment of” the entire Old Testament/Covenant system. To try to say in the middle of this theme that Sabbath is a binding day for Christians, is to miss not only the context of Hebrews 3-4, but the larger context of the entire book. The logical point that the author is making is that Jesus is a better Sabbath than the old literal one-day-a-week rest. He is our rest today and every day as we put our trust in him! He is the true temple, the true Passover, the true Law, the true Sabbath! As I studied this out, my heart just burned within me as I saw the significance of Jesus in this book. The next few passages in Hebrews underscore what the study had taught me thus far, but they made even clearer what the New Testament, or new will, teaches about what carries over from the Old. Notice the following selected verses from Hebrews 8-10. Please do not take my word. Refer to your own Bible and study for yourself. Study the context and the verses in between my selections to see if these things are so. Start with Chapter 8, right after the phrase in verse five that refers to the temple system as a “shadow of heavenly things.” (There is an interesting similarity to Colossians. 2:16-17). Starting with verse six we read,

Hebrews 8:6–7 (KJV) But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.

Hebrews 8:13 (KJV) In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

Hebrews 9:15 (KJV) And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

Hebrews 10:1 (KJV) For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

Hebrews 10:9 (KJV) Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.

The more I read the book of Hebrews, the more I started to see the “Magic Eye” picture I had missed before. Suddenly passages that I had never understood before became clear to me. I was seeing through new glasses. I had always studied the Scriptures with Old Covenant glasses on. Now that I was reading it with New Covenant glasses, I was seeing a whole new picture. I began to feel embarrassed that I had never seen it before. It was as if a veil had fallen from my eyes. I discovered at my next stop that this is precisely what had happened.

Notice II Corinthians 3 with me, starting with verse five.

2 Corinthians 3:5–7 (KJV) Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:

Now look at verses 13-18

2 Corinthians 3:13–18 (KJV) And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. 17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Paul declares that as long as our focus is on the Old Covenant, engraved on stones, it is as if we see things through a veil. But once we come to Christ fully, we start looking to Him instead of the Law. We lose the veil and our lives are transformed by looking to Jesus instead of the Law. As I studied these passages, I became convinced that a radical change had taken place in the Cross event, much greater than I had ever grasped before.

Next I visited the book of Ephesians. Here the Sabbath is not specifically mentioned, but the same message came through loud and clear.

Ephesians 2:11–19 (KJV) Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

As I read this passage I had to ask myself what were the commandments and ordinances that once separated the Jews the Gentiles? This could refer to only three things, the same three things we have been studying about all along, namely, circumcision, the food laws and Sabbath observance. My eyes were opening to see that the dividing wall of hostility that Christ broke down really did include all of the Law, including the specific laws that divided Jews and Gentiles. The Sabbath, the feasts, the clean and uncleanness laws, the sacrificial system, and circumcision, were all fulfilled in Jesus. Thereby Christ has truly made all believers one in Himself.