Sermonette notes 9-2-00
How would you like to be a “verbal blackbelt” in defending the Sabbath? Suppose we have trouble in remembering all the texts to turn to or what the Greek means in certain situations. What is a good general approach to use in countering arguments made against obeying the Old Testament law?
Subject provoked by on-line debate and with local man once with us doctrinally. Realized that most anti-Sabbath arguments make the same mistakes, so can be refuted the same way. Some arguments, such as saying “These laws only for the Jews” not covered here, or certain anti-Sabbath, anti-Holy Day texts cited in Paul frequently. But this approach still levels about 80% of what you’ll hear.
S.P.S.: So today we’re going to look at two general principles for defending the Sabbath against a multitude of generic arguments.
1. Most arguments Protestants make against the Sabbath or the Old Testament law are so general in nature that they refute laws that they believe are still in force. Since their arguments overreach themselves, and prove too much, they have to be rejected since they themselves believe various Old Testament laws are in force.
OT Laws against gay sex example: counter-attacks used by skeptics cite other laws abolished.
Although this will be repetitious, it’s worth going through a slew of these generic arguments in order to show how weak they really are and how easily refuted they are.
Sloppy thinking about the interrelationship of such terms as “grace,” “law,” “justification,” “salvation,” “faith,” “repentance,” “sin,” “righteousness,” “works,” “baptism,” and “sanctification” holds millions unknowingly in its thrall. Often anti-law (antinomian) evangelicals hide their careless reasoning by spouting vague, vacuous rhetoric or generalizations about Jesus’ role as our Savior, ignoring that the conclusions they’re drawing (that the Sabbath is abolished) don’t follow from the premises they’re using rhetoric designed to put you on defensive by claiming spiritual superiority.
Effectively think by plugging in the name “Christ” into an argument that they’ve won. Example: WWN in 1995 when dealing with Acts 15: “They were to avoid murder and blasphemy because of Christ, not because of the law of Moses.”
BASIC APPROACH: Ask them: “Would you say that about the laws against adultery, murder, stealing, idolatry, coveting, etc.?”
Since they believe (if conservative Christians) that they are in force, their arguments have to be rejected because they would trash laws they also believe in.
“Justification by grace through faith alone abolishes Sabbath observance.”
Gal. 2:16, 21
Just because it doesn’t earn salvation doesn’t mean you don’t have to do it.
“The mind of Christ replaces the law for Christians.”
“Christ fulfilled the law.”
“Since Christians are under the new covenant and not the old covenant, they don’t have to observe the Sabbath.”
How does writing the law on your hearts abolish the law? I could say “the law of clean/unclean meats was written on my heart because of the new covenant.” Does this text contradict that?
“The letter of the law has been abolished, but not the spirit of the law. Therefore, since we ‘rest in Christ’ spiritually, which allows us to keep the Sabbath command every day of the week, there’s no need for literal obedience to the command enforcing resting from work on the seventh day.”
“The principle of love abolishes the law.”
“Acts 15 proves that the Old Testament law was abolished for Christians.”
“The law, including the Sabbath, was nailed to the cross.”
“Because the Ten Commandments are identical to the old covenant, they were abolished, including the Sabbath, when the old covenant ended.” Let’s examine more carefully.
Problems: If Old Covenant = 10 Commandments, then doesn’t include circumcision or animal sacrifices. If believe 9 of 10 in force still, then you believe old covenant is 90% still in force! Can you take any of Paul’s pro-law statements, and plug “old covenant” in for “law” and have it still work?
Can you think of any more generic, spiritual sounding rhetoric used against the Sabbath? Plug in this argument, “Would you say that about ‘Thou shalt not murder’?” Case closed!
2. When they notice that their arguments overreach themselves, and they have abolished laws they think are still in force, they then will say something that amounts to “The law is in force but isn’t in force.” The self-contradiction automatically destroys them. Watch their reasoning very carefully: Any principle they announce that keeps (say) the other 9 Commandments in force can be used to prove the Sabbath is in force.
Example: One man said that the law of the Old Testament was nullified, that we weren’t under its jurisdiction anymore. But he did believe that the last six commandments should still be obeyed because of the principle of love. Fine! I obey the Sabbath out of love—for God!
Same God, same law: The law expresses God’s will for humanity, to guide its actions. Did God condemn stealing a hour before Jesus’ death? Yes. Did He condemn it an hour after Jesus’ death? Yes. So why think the Sabbath is any different?
Any escape hatch (i.e., general principle) they name to keep “You must not murder” but abolish just the Sabbath will allow you to keep the Sabbath.
In conclusion: We should remember that whenever we’re faced with any vague Protestant rhetoric against the Sabbath to just ask whether the same reasoning applies against other laws the opponent believes are in force.