Why Look for a Sabbath-Keeping Church?

Christians who worship on the seventh-day Sabbath are a small minority. Why would anyone go to that effort? Look at these scriptures for the answer.

In much of the world, just calling yourself Christian makes you part of a small minority. Being a Sabbath-keeping Christian shrinks your options much more.

But biblical Christianity has never been about majorities—it’s about faithfully following Christ. He called His Church a “little flock” (Luke 12:32). His followers “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17). They are the saints “who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12).

Weren’t the commandments done away with?

Some churches believe that the commandments no longer apply to Christians—that they were done away with. Of course, they don’t object to most of the 10 Commandments; everyone believes murder and stealing are wrong, for example. If you get right down to it, most Protestant Sunday-keeping churches really only think the Sabbath command was done away with.

But consider these New Testament passages about the 10 Commandments. Do they seem like they are abolished?

  • Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-19).
  • Jesus also said, “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17; see verses 18-19 for confirmation Jesus was referring to the 10 Commandments).
  • The apostle John said, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
  • The apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good” (Romans 7:12).
  • Paul also wrote, “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters” (1 Corinthians 7:19).

Read more in our articles “The 10 Commandments for Today” and “Jesus and the Law.”

Following Christ’s steps

A Christian will “follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin’” (1 Peter 2:21-22). The Bible defines sin as lawlessness—breaking God’s laws (1 John 3:4). Jesus never broke the law, and He died to pay the penalty of our past sins so we can strive with His help to not break the law. Notice these quotes from Jesus and Paul:

  • “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11).
  • “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!” (Romans 6:1-2).

What did Jesus do? He kept the Sabbath. Observing the Sabbath was Jesus’ custom and practice (Luke 4:16, 31). It continued to be the custom and practice of the apostles and the New Testament Church (Acts 13:14, 42, 44; 14:1; 17:2, 10; 18:4).

Jesus never broke God’s law, even if the Pharisees accused Him and His disciples of breaking the Sabbath. His healings on the Sabbath were totally acceptable to God, though they might have gone against the extra human rules that Jewish tradition had added. Jesus corrected them and showed that “it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:12).

Jesus should know. He was present at its creation and when it was thundered to Israel as part of the 10 Commandments, and thus He is “Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28).

He made the Sabbath holy.

What is holy to God?

“Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it [made it holy], because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:3).

He reiterates this in the Sabbath commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8).

We are not to add to or take away from God’s commands (Deuteronomy 12:32). As rebellious Korah discovered, it is dangerous for people to take it on themselves to try to define what is holy (Numbers 16:3-5). We must let God tell us what He has made holy.

Holiness is not just an Old Testament concept. The apostle Peter urged Christians to live “as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:14-16).

But how can we be holy if we don’t respect what God made holy—like His holy Sabbath day? (Read more in our article “Holy Days: Who Makes Them Holy?”)

God created the Sabbath and made it holy time. Who can change that? Only God.God created the Sabbath and made it holy time. Who can change that? Only God.

There is nothing in the Bible about God changing His day of rest and worship.

Obviously changes did occur in the church that gained influence over the pagan Roman Empire, but not in the small faithful flock that continued in the “faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).

Read more about how Sunday came to be the majority day of worship in our articles “Did the Early Christians Worship on Sunday?” and “When and How Did the Change in Worship From Saturday to Sunday Occur?

The future of the Sabbath

Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man—for the benefit of all of humanity, not just the Jews (Mark 2:27). It was created just after humanity’s first parents were created.

Isaiah 56 shows how important the Sabbath is to God and how the Sabbath is for everyone. God pronounces a blessing on the person “who keeps from defiling the Sabbath and keeps his hand from doing any evil” (Isaiah 56:2).

This includes people from all nations: “The sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants—everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant—even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer” (verses 6-7).

Isaiah 66:23 also describes a future time when all people will be on God’s calendar and all will be celebrating God’s holy Sabbath.

So how can anyone say the Sabbath doesn’t apply now?

Looking for the church behind Life, Hope & Truth? See our “Who We Are” page.

The benefits of the Sabbath

If you come to understand the importance and holiness God places on His Sabbath, you will want to fellowship with like-minded Christians who love God’s laws and deeply appreciate His calling and His mercy. You will want to worship with those who seek to have God’s laws written on their hearts and minds (Hebrews 8:10).

God gives His people the Sabbath and the fellowship of His Church as gifts that produce wonderful blessings. These include:

  • Biblical instruction.
  • Encouragement.
  • Support in trials.
  • Family closeness and belonging.
  • The opportunity to worship God together with other believers.
  • A chance to serve and love others—practicing the Christian life and growing in the fruit of the Spirit.
  • A shared mission—an overarching purpose that motivates us.

Read much more in our article “Christian Fellowship.”

If you’d like to learn more about the Sabbath, download our free booklet The Sabbath: A Neglected Gift From God. If you’d like to learn more about the church that sponsors this website, download Welcome to the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.

About the Author

Mike Bennett

Mike Bennett

Mike Bennett is editorial content manager for the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, in the Dallas, Texas, area. He coordinates the Life, Hope & Truth website, Discern magazine, the Daily Bible Verse Blog and the Life, Hope & Truth Weekly Newsletter (including World Watch Weekly). He is also part of the Personal Correspondence team of ministers who have the privilege of answering questions sent to Life, Hope & Truth.

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