The Spiritual Touchstone of Sabbatarianism

By Leif L.

This article is a continuation of my previous article, The Spiritual Touchstone of Adventism, where it is shown that the overarching religious concern of Seventh-day Adventism is not the cross of Christ, but observance of the seventh day Sabbath.

“Touchstone” Series:
1. The Sabbath: Touchstone of Spiritual Reality?
2. The Sabbath and the Touchstone of Christianity
3. The Spiritual Touchstone of Adventism
4. The Spiritual Touchstone of Sabbatarianism
5. The Sabbath: Touchstone Fulfilled

Bypassing the Work of the Son and Spirit

Placing the Sabbath at the centre of of Christian consciousness, rather than the finished work of Jesus, turns the gospel inside out. It places the law at the centre of salvation, rather than the cross. It does not focus on what God has done through Christ for salvation, but rather on the believer performing a weekly ritual in order to merit or prove themselves worthy of salvation.

Not only is the work of Christ undermined (as shown in the previous article), but the work of the Holy Spirit is misunderstood as well. The “seal of God” in the new covenant is not a ritual observance of a weekly day of worship, but the guarantee of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers:

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14 NKJV)

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)

Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)

The new covenant sealing of God is done by the Holy Spirit, when we trust the gospel, and are established in Christ. This produces the fruits of the spirit in God’s children. The Sabbath is not a fruit of the Spirit, but a work of the law:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self- control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV)

The Sabbath Criterion in Adventism

A touchstone is defined as “test or criterion for determining the quality or genuineness of a thing”. Adventists, like most Sabbatarians, will test all things by the Sabbath. The criterion for judging whether a church is genuine, or if a Christian is faithful, is decided by whether they keep the Sabbath. This is their spiritual plumb line, their prime theological reference point.

The arguments necessary to maintain the necessity of Sabbath keeping in the new covenant creates the hermeneutic which undermines the centrality of the cross event in Sabbatarianism, and the results are evident in Adventist theology.

The many Christian churches who profess the cross as the primary feature of their faith, and the millions of people who trust in Christ and what he has done for them, are often judged by Sabbatarians as incomplete and in darkness because they lack “the Sabbath truth.” Adventism teaches that Christians will stand before God without a mediator during the tribulation, but they must be faithful Sabbath keepers to qualify. One may wonder whether the eschatological intention of such theology is to prove that salvation is through our own works after all, as if Jesus is an unnecessary Saviour.

This is a rejection of core New Testament teaching, of the centrality of the completed cross event in the justification, sanctification and final glorification of the Christian, as well as the truth that Christ “ever lives to make intercession for us”. The Sabbath was simply an old covenant shadow of that reality; this theology is backwards, for it has made the shadow into the reality, and it has thereby substituted the reality, emptying it of any value.

It is a theology which has gone astray because it chooses as it’s center most theme the idea that keeping a ritual day is essential to true Christianity, and even salvation. They don’t believe in the sufficiency of the death of Christ as an atonement for sin, and the very idea that his death was a substitution to cover sin and make us acceptable to God has been challenged within Adventism time and time again.

In Adventism you may question and disbelieve the doctrine of Christ’s atonement, but you may never challenge the Sabbath.

The spiritual touchstone of Sabbatarianism is the keeping of the Sabbath day, a tenet which relegates the soteriological significance of the work of Christ to second place. This will always be the outcome of confusing the old and new covenants, the law and grace, the shadow and the reality.

Closing remarks: This is the third part of this article regarding spiritual touchstones. Please read the previous post to understand the context. Seventh-day Adventist doctrine is referred to in this article, not to offend, but to point out where I believe their teaching is wrong on critical aspects of the gospel. To my Adventist brothers and sisters, I ask that you consider the points here and do more research to see “whether these things are so”.

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