If you are interested on the subject of legalism and Jesus being the Lord of the Sabbath and has an hour of your time to spare, I’d like to introduce you to one of Mark Driscoll’s sermon, part his sermon series on the book of Luke, called “Jesus the Sabbath Lord”.
… if you are inspired by, changed through and your life has made a turn around because of the Bible, then you’ll fall in-love with this movie. It’s an action film. Not great, as in “Borne…” great. But behind the action scenes, the passion for The Book is very evident.
Makes me think: we’re a blessed generation. We have hundreds of Bible versions with millions of copies in the market. And, through LifeChurch.tv (were LifeChurch Makati is networked), considered as the most innovative church in the US — and in my opinion the most generous — they have made The Bible even more accessible — for free! — through YouVersion.com. Now you can read the Bible through the internet or through your phones.
Very accessible more than ever. But where is our Bibles today? In the altars? In your bags — to protect you from “harms and dangers?”
You will never experience the power of the Book if you’re not going to be passionate about reading it and putting it in your hearts. It has changed my life, it has inspired me to walk with God and it has guided me through difficult situations in life. My experience is identical with millions who decided to make the Bible part of their lives.
And you can experience this, too. Grab your Bible and start reading it. If you don’t have one, go ahead and go to YouVersion.com, choose a version you’re most comfortable with and start reading online.
Don’t wait for the time when the Bible is nowhere to be found.
Question: Should Christians celebrate Christmas?
Answer: The debate about whether or not Christians should celebrate Christmas has been raging for centuries. There are equally sincere and committed Christians on both sides of the issue, each with multiple reasons why or why not Christmas should be celebrated in Christian homes. But what does the Bible say? Does the Bible give clear direction as to whether Christmas is a holiday to be celebrated by Christians?
First, let’s look at the reasons why Christians do not celebrate Christmas. One argument against Christmas is that the traditions surrounding the holiday have origins in paganism. Searching for reliable information on this topic is difficult because the origins of many of our traditions are so obscure that sources often contradict one another. Bells, candles, holly, and yuletide decorations are mentioned in the history of pagan worship, but the use of such in one’s home certainly does not indicate a return to paganism. While there are definitely pagan roots to some traditions, there are many more traditions associated with the true meaning of Christmas—the birth of the Savior of the world in Bethlehem. Bells are played to ring out the joyous news, candles are lit to remind us that Christ is the Light of the world (John 1:4-9), a star is placed on the top of a Christmas tree to remember the Star of Bethlehem, and gifts are exchanged to remind us of the gifts of the Magi to the baby Jesus, the greatest gift of God to mankind.
Another argument against Christmas, especially having a Christmas tree, is that the Bible forbids bringing trees into our homes and decorating them. The passage often cited is Jeremiah 10:1-16, but this passage refers to cutting down trees, chiseling the wood to make an idol, and then decorating the idol with silver and gold for the purpose of bowing down before it to worship it (see also Isaiah 44:9-18). The passage in Jeremiah cannot be taken out of its context and used to make a legitimate argument against Christmas trees.
Christians who choose to ignore Christmas point to the fact that the Bible doesn’t give us the date of Christ’s birth, which is certainly true. December 25 may not be even close to the time Jesus was born and arguments on both sides are legion, some relating to climate in Palestine, the practices of shepherds in winter, and the dates of Roman census-taking. None of these points is without a certain amount of conjecture, which brings us back to the fact that the Bible doesn’t tell us when Jesus was born. Some see this as proof positive that God didn’t want us to celebrate the birth, while others see the Bible’s silence on the issue as tacit approval.
Some Christians say that since the world celebrates Christmas—although it is becoming more and more politically correct to refer to it as ‘the holidays’—Christians should avoid it. But that is the same argument made by false religions that deny Christ altogether, as well as cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses who deny His deity. Those Christians who do celebrate Christmas often see the occasion as an opportunity to proclaim Him as ‘the reason for the season’ among the nations and to those trapped in false religions.
As we have seen, there is no legitimate scriptural reason not to celebrate Christmas. At the same time, there is no biblical mandate to celebrate either. In the end, of course, whether or not to celebrate Christmas is a personal decision. Whatever Christians decide to do regarding Christmas, their views should not be used as a club with which to beat down or denigrate those with opposing views, nor should either view be used as a badge of honor inducing pride over celebrating or not celebrating. As in all things, we seek wisdom from Him who gives it liberally to all who ask (James 1:5), and accept one another in Christian love and grace, regardless of our views on Christmas.
About 10 years ago, I dealt with the issue of Saturday sabbatarianism as I journey out of Seventh-day Adventism. I studied, research, debated, spoken about in symposiums, cried, poured my heart out into this subject. I’ve spoken through emails with theologians and pastors like Dale Ratzlaff, Clay Peck and read their respective books. I read the works of famous sabbatarians and former sabbatarians in the area of theology like Dr. Desmond Ford and Robert Brinsmead. I prayed, journeyed and decided.
Ten years fast forward, I moved on and outgrown that issue. And, instead of joining holy huddles, debating about all these non-essential topics and becoming spiritual obese, I decided I need to flex my spiritual muscles and honor and give glory to Jesus by following his important instruction before he left – to make disciples.
These days, however, I’m attracted again to talk about that theological issue, this time with the other end of the pendulum – the Sunday Sabbatarians. Sunday sabbatarianism, for those who might ask, is a belief that Sabbath observance was transferred from Saturday to Sunday. I don’t really want to dive into it as my energy’s best placed in other things. But since this topic is dear to my heart, let me deal with it anyway.
I know the arguments used by Sunday sabbatarians, but I’ve not talked with anyone before – until now. One thing I realized, refuting Sunday sabbatarianism is far EASIER than refuting Saturday sabbatarianism. Here’s why:
1. The Bible NEVER said that the Sabbath was transferred from Saturday to any day, much more to Sunday. Never. How easy can that be?
2. Now, for a Sunday sabbatarian to justify his belief, he has to use two twisted approach:
a) Make a lot of assumptions. For instance, they would assume that “sabbatismos”, a unique kind of sabbath mentioned in Hebrews 4 is a DAY. Nowhere do we see that though. Not in the context around the verses nor the context of Hebrews as a book. Hebrews talks about how everything in the Old Covenant was fulfilled and pointed to Jesus.
b) They will appeal to tradition. They would argue that since the early church worshiped on Sundays, therefore, it must be the new Sabbath. Wrong. First of all, the early church did not claim that Sunday is the new sabbath ACCORDING to the Bible. Some church fathers claim that Sunday is the “sabbath” for Christians just so to differentiate it from the Jewish sabbath. But this claim is not based on clear instructions from the Bible. Secondly, I respect Christian traditions, but I don’t use it to go above what the Bible did or did not say. Otherwise, I’ll just be a Roman Catholic and make traditions part of my irrefutable belief system.
Old Covenant sabbath?
Together with Adventists, a Sunday sabbatarian actually agrees that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Covenant practices. What they missed though is the opportunity to be true to that statement. What a Sunday sabbatarian will do is insist on adopting an old covenant practice of observing a sabbath DAY but then also insist that it has been changed to Sunday to be “new covenant-friendly”. In this regard, the Seventh-day Adventist is even more consistent than a Sunday sabbatarian. At least, the Seventh-day Adventist holds on to true Biblical sabbath and tries to explain that it remains as the Christian sabbath. The Sunday sabbatarian, however, not only adopted an old covenant practice, it even tries to add something to the Bible!
For Christians, is Saturday the sabbath day? No. The Jewish sabbath at its very essence is the very center of Jewish laws, identifying the Jews as a people. It has its very special purpose. (see. Exo. 20 and Deut. 5). The old covenant, to which the ten commandments are part of, fulfilled it’s requirement in Jesus.
Is the sabbath then transferred to Sunday for Christians to observe? No. Nowhere in the Bible do we see such important doctrine. You will have to twist the scriptures and hide under intellectual arrogance to prove that such a doctrine exist.
What, or who, then is the Sabbath? Jesus. He is our rest (Matt. 11:28). He is the way, the truth and the life. He is the fulfillment of the law. He is to be worshiped everyday through our life (Rom. 12). He is “sabbatismos”, the new sabbath mentioned in Hebrews 4. Jesus is our Sabbath, everyday.
The question for both camps is not actually what day is the Sabbath day for Christians. The real question is what has changed from the Old Covenant to the New that makes the sabbath in its real essence and intent become more than just a day.
Physical rest and weekly meetings
I still believe that the principle of a sabbath day of rest is a good practice. In fact, Saturday is STILL my physical sabbath rest. On that day of the week, I got to sleep in until 10 am and be with the family for the whole day. Sunday is NOT my physical sabbath day as this is one of the busiest day of my week. And honestly, Sundays are not the days where I feel closest to God. Yes, I got to serve him and corporately worship Him on Sundays, but I’m more technical on Sundays than any other days. However, everyday, that 30 minutes in a day when I’m quiet in the presence of God, is my heaven on earth. Those moments when I got to be quiet and listen to him, worship him with his words and sometimes with a song or two. Those time of the day when I got to exercise my trust and dependence on him. When I got to worship him through the way I let him live in me and I living out his life.
While I hold that sabbath is everyday, Christians should choose a day, most of which chose Sunday, Christians in the middle east choose Friday, to be their corporate time to meet together and worship God as this is what the Bible instructed us to do.
If you’re about to loose everything, will you still trust and praise God?
When I met Jesus — for who he really is — 10 years ago, one of my battle cry was “Jesus is enough”. He is enough to give comfort, joy, eternal security. He is enough when we feel inadequate. He is enough when life seems to fall apart. He is enough even if you’ll loose everything.
Matt Chandler is a very popular pastor in the US. He leads a successful church, The Village Church, that ministers to thousands of people. He is a well-known speaker in conferences. And, with his words, it seems that at 35 years old, God has given him victory after victory in this life.
Not until the morning of Thanksgiving day. He had a seizure and was rushed to the hospital. They found a tumor in his frontal lobe and has undergone surgery last Friday. He recorded this video before this operation.
If you’re about to loose everything, is Jesus enough? Watch this video and be encouraged — or even be led into repentance for trusting on what you have even knowing that Jesus should be enough in our lives.