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On the Christian Sabbath
— with a particular defence against the claims of strict Sabbatarianism
There has been in recent years an increase in interest in the Jewish roots of Christianity. Built partly on the success of Dispensationalism which fully and ontologically separated biblical Israel from the Church, and the strong influence of 'Christian' Zionism espoused by people like John Hagee, this interest in all things Jewish gains currency in the non-Dispensationalist community through theories such as N.T. Wright's New Perspectivism (New Perspective of Paul) in the conservative wing and Rob Bell's Nooma videos in the liberal or Emergent wing. With this foundation, increasing number of Christians have subconsciously became more rabbinic in their thinking. Nowhere is this more evident when it comes to the issue of the Sabbath, the one practical issue which is part of the Decalogue and which is celebrated so differently on different days by the two faith communities. Such a stark difference is surely inexplicable to many believers, especially since it is plain indeed that the Sabbath is stated as being on the seventh day for the Jewish community under the Old Covenant.
It is in view of this that we shall look to the Scriptures with regards to this topic. However, before that, we must settle the interpretation of Scripture; our hermeneutical principle by which we interpret all of Scripture. For unless we know how to rightly divide the Word of Truth, how can we discover what does the Bible exactly say about the issue, especially since the there is no explicit command regarding the Sabbath in the New Testament?
The hermeneutical principle governing Scripture
If asked the hermeneutical principle that governs their interpretation of the Bible, all true Bible believers will answer that it is the grammatico-historical method, which is to say that the text must be interpreted within its own context and grammar (grammatico) and historical time frame (historical). How this is done however is another story altogether when it comes to certain thorny issues which span the entire Bible, of which the Sabbath, being part of the Law, would be a part of. Certainly, the methods learned in Inductive Bible Study (Observation, Interpretation and Application) would most certainly aid us. But Inductive Bible Study deals only with the local context (few chapters around the text or at the most the Book etc.), and not with the entirety of Scripture in quoting from various parts of the Bible. This is the domain of Systematic Theology, of which this topic would definitely fall under. But how does one go about establishing such doctrines from Scripture?
To do this, a few principles are to be abide to. First, Scripture cannot contradict Scripture. If your way of systematizing doctrines creates logical contradictions between them, then most certainly you are going in the wrong direction, for God does not change His mind and so contradict Himself (Num. 23:19), after all He is the Logos (Jn. 1:1). Second, clear passages interpret obscure ones. Third, major themes of the Scripture dictate the lesser themes (i.e. The truths of the Gospel circumscribe the deduction of the facts of the Eschaton or Last things, not the other way around). Fourth, all doctrines must end up being focused on Jesus Christ, the Cross and the Gospel, for that is the center of revelation and the heart of the Christian faith. Such guidelines will most definitely aid us in your examination of this topic.
The Sabbath that we are looking at is the one prescribed in the Decalogue or the Ten Commandments, which is the heart of the Law given primarily through Moses, and not the overtly ceremonial Sabbaths celebrated by Israel (ie the Sabbath year cf Lev. 25:1-7). Therefore, as we desire to examine this subject, we must need look into the issue of the Law itself, before looking at the question of the Sabbath
The eternal and transcendent purpose of the Law
The Law of God is extolled in various place in the Scriptures, of which the best known passage is Ps. 119.extolls it greatly, calling it better than gold and silver (Ps. 119:72), firmly fixed in the heavens (v. 89), and "a lamp to my feet, a light to my paths" (v. 105) among others. From this and other passages, it can be seen that the Law of God (and more broadly His Word the Scriptures) are inherently good in and of themselves. The New Testament also affirms this when it states that the 'law is holy and the commandment is holy and righteous and good' (Rom. 7:12), affirmed by no other than Paul himself, a man much hated by the Judaizers because he openly exposed and denounced them, especially in the Epistle to the Galatians. Jesus Himself even states that “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished" (Mt. 5:17-18). Therefore, the Law is stated as being good, holy and not abrogated by Jesus or the New Covenant.
How then does the book of Galatians, Romans, and Hebrews with its seeming belittling of the Law fit in therefore? We must here note the various ways in which the Law is mentioned both in the Old Testament, especially in the Torah, and in these books of the NT.
The Law in the OT
As we meditate deeper into the Old Testament, it is evident that the superficial picture of the OT being centrally about Law and Torah observance is somewhat misplaced. Certain passages of Scripture does not fit into a paradigm of a God demanding obedience and Torah observance otherwise He would destroy His people. Rather, the grace of God and His love for His people shines through even brighter, of which we shall see.
Explicit passages with regards to grace and faith in the Old Testament are as follows:
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; You will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise (Ps. 51:16-17)
Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith (Hab. 2:4)
Besides these two overt texts, we can see the grace of God apart from the Law in the narrative episodes of Israel's history, not to mention God's grace towards Abraham, Isaac and Jacob which was poured out before the Law was given. Jacob for example was a thief who stole his brother's birthright (Gen. 25:30-34) and blessing (Gen. 27:1-26). [Yes, Esau despised his birthright, yet that does not give Jacob any right whatsoever to steal it!] Yet if obedience was the criteria, then why was Jacob chosen but not Esau, if not for the grace of God apart from the Law and its obedience (cf Rom. 9:10-13)?
In the narrative history of Israel, when Israel was saved from Egypt in the Exodus from Egypt, was it because they were righteous? No, for it is written:
Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is not giving you [Israel] this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people (Deut. 9:6)
Therefore, Israel's salvation from Egypt was totally of grace. Even in the giving of the Law, we can see that the way of salvation is still by grace. For in Deut. 27-28, God had through symbolisms showed forth the Law and its attendant blessings and curses as both sides of the same coin: through half of Israel pronouncing the blessings on Mount Gerazim and the other half proclaim the curses opposite them on Mount Ebal (Deut. 11:29). The symmetrical nature of these two can be seen when comparing the first and second part of Deut. 28. Yet, God has pronounced that they will experience both. After their destruction and dispersal among the nations, they will be saved again (Deut. 30:5). Such salvation would be by grace and that alone, for we can see that God will work to change them (Deut. 30:6) so that they will turn to Him. Also, in Ez 36:22-27, this new heart is given by God alone and it is based on grace not on Law, for as verse 22 says
It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. (Ez. 36:22b)
From all of this therefore, we can see that salvation even in the Old Testament is by grace not by Law at any point in history. The Law was given only to Israel after they were saved (from Egypt). And therefore, the Law was to serve not unto salvation but as a rule for the people of God, and is therefore to be evaluated accordingly.
The Law in the NT epistles
In the NT, the Law was affirmed by Jesus (Mt. 5:17-18) and even extolled by the Apostle Paul as being holy, righteous and good (Rom. 7:12). The book of Galatians was an exercise to condemn the use of the Law unto salvation, as can be seen in the contents of the epistle themselves. In Gal. 2:21, Paul states that if righteousness was through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. In Gal. 3:1-3, Paul decried the Galatian believers as being foolish by trying to add to their faith works unto salvation. In verses 10-14 of the same chapter, Paul states that all who want to be saved through the Law are under the curse of the Law.
Gal. 3: 15-29 is an excellent exposition of the use of the Law as with regards unto salvation. It is written:
To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.
Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise (Gal. 3:15-29)
In this passage, the main thrust of the Law with regards to salvation was stated that it was meant to pave the way for the Gospel of grace, but never to merit righteousness and salvation. In the words of Scripture, the Law was our guardian until Christ came, tutoring us therefore so that we can know that salvation and justification is by faith alone by showing us our inability to keep the Law. This view is explicitly proven in Rom. 2, as it shows that although the Law can theoretically merit salvation through works (Rom. 2:6-11), nobody in fact does good in the sight of God (Rom. 3:9-20, especially verse 20). As stated in Rom. 2:17-23, the Jews, though they have the Law, violate it continuously, while self-righteously and judgmentally condemning other sinners (Rom. 2:1-5). It is no good to claim that "no one is perfect", because the Law demands absolutely perfect obedience at every single point (Gal. 5:10; 12), and anyone who violates the Law at any single point violates the whole Law (Jas. 2:10). The entire focus therefore of Romans and of Galatians is that the Law was never meant to save anyone but for showing us the need for God's grace to save us through faith.
In the book of Hebrews, a book probably written with the high possibility of the apostasy of Jewish believers in mind, the writer exhorts believers not to forsake Christ, as the New Covenant is so much more superior to the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant had mortal earthly priests in the line of Levi/ Aaron; the New Covenant has an eternal heavenly priest in the line of Melchizedek, without beginning, without end (Heb. 5:1-10; 7). The Old Covenant is founded so to speak on Moses, the chief instrument through which God uses to reveal His Law to Israel; the New Covenant is founded on Christ, who as the builder of the house has more honor than the house itself; the son more honor than the servant (Heb. 3:1-6), and therefore Jesus is superior to Moses. Heb. 8:8-12 quotes the entire section of Jer. 31:31-34 to prove the insufficiency of the Old Covenant as compared to the New Covenant, stating the first one [the Old Covenant] is rendered obsolete as the second one comes into place (Heb. 8:13). Heb. 9 emphasizes the finality of the Atonement of Jesus Christ ('appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself' v. 26b) as opposed to the repetitive act of the sacrifices offered under the Old Covenant, which are ultimately fruitless since 'it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins' (Heb. 10:4).
Thus, from the book of Hebrews, we can see that the Law is rendered obsolete for salvation, and that the shadows and forms of the Old Covenant (the Levitical Priesthood, the ritual sacrifices etc.) which are part of the Old Covenant system have been abolished, because the New Covenant instituted by Christ is superior to them and have rendered them obsolete
Historical reformed theology have typically differentiated the Law as being made up of three components: the Moral law, the Ceremonial law, and the Civil law, noting that the Ceremonial law is the one being abrogated or rather fulfilled (to use the language of Jesus in Mt. 5:17 where he states that he came to fulfil the Law) in the New Covenant as per the book of Hebrews, thus rendering the ceremonial aspects of the Law obsolete The Civil Law is so specific and applicational that it makes no sense when applied anywhere outside national Israel and is therefore obsolete when the Covenant people of God expands beyond Israel to the Church (See Lev. 25:23-55 for example). That leaves only the Moral Law, of which the Decalogue is part of.
From the teachings of Galatians and Romans, it can be seen that what is condemned in them is not the Law per se, since Paul acknowledges the goodness and holiness of the Law itself, but that the Law when used in an attempt to establish the righteousness of the person. Therefore, the entire teaching of the Law in the NT can be summarized as stating that the Law is good when used properly, but is to be renounced as a means through which salvation and righteousness can ever be attained.
The Law in the entirety of Scripture
With this, we can thereby conclude that the Law of God was never meant to be unto salvation, both in the OT and in the NT. Rather, they are good when used properly, and they are abused when they are being abused in an attempt to merit righteousness and salvation. The ceremonial aspects of the Law are fulfilled in Christ once for all, the Civil law is abolished since there is no more theocracy, and the moral aspects of the Law are to manifest the character of God, and therefore we are to walk in them as an expression of our love for God, yet not unto salvation.
The true purpose of the Sabbath
The Sabbath, although part of the Decalogue and thus of the Moral law, has a ceremonial aspect to it as well. For we read that the commemoration of the Sabbath on the seventh day as part of a seventh day week cycle is based upon the Creation Work of God (Ex. 20:11) in which God created everything in six days and rested the seventh day. Other Sabbath ceremonies can be found instructed in passages such as Lev. 25:1-7 whereby the Sabbath year is to be kept. From this, we can see that the Sabbath is always based on the remembrance of God's Creation work in Genesis.
The most important passage upon which we come to a greater understanding of the meaning behind the Sabbath can be found in Heb. 3:7 - 4:11. This is indeed a vital text on the topic of the Sabbath, and therefore is one whereby we should examine in detail.
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years.
Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
they have not known my ways.’
As I swore in my wrath,
'They shall not enter my rest.'”
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.
Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,
“As I swore in my wrath,
'They shall not enter my rest,' ”
although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said,
“They shall not enter my rest.”
Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
(Heb. 3:7 - 4:11)
This passage in Hebrews reveals to us the purpose of the Sabbath as the veil is removed from the mysteries of God with the unveiling of the New Covenant. From this passage, we can see that the Sabbath symbolizes the eternal rest of God, who has now rested from all His work of redemption. In Heb. 3:11, a reference was made to God's eternal rest of which entering that rest symbolizes resting in God and His salvation. Thus, we can know that the 'rest' being mentioned here is related to salvation. This is confirmed by Heb. 4:3a, whereby it is stated that "we who believe have entered that rest". The connection with the initial Sabbath rest was made in the second part of the verse, where it is stated "although His works were finished from the foundation of the world" and "rested on the seventh day from all His works", thus showing forth the analogy with the first Sabbath at the end of the Creation Week. We must here also take notice of the usage of the word "although", which shows us that a comparison is hereby being made between the eternal rest of God and the Creation Week Sabbath. This shows us that while God had rested on the Creation Sabbath and the seventh-day Sabbath is instituted as a commemoration of His Creation work rest, there is still a way in which God is still working after Creation, which is related to that eternal rest which is linked to the plan of redemption. Verse 4 linked the 'rest' spoken of here explicitly with the Creation Sabbath, thus putting forward a link between the two (the eternal Sabbath rest and the Creation Sabbath rest).
Verse 8 of Heb. 4 speaks of a rest which Joshua had given the Israelites, the Covenant people of God, referring to the land resting from war after the Israelites have conquered the territory of the Canaanites (cf Josh. 11:23; 23:1). Such a rest was from conquering the territory and thus entering the promises of God. Hebrews thus uses this as an analogy for the spiritual significance of the event, which was to rest in the promises of the salvation of God. Here also we can see that the rest of the Hebrews in God's promises was incomplete since the conquest of the land still continued even after that, and thus God spoke forth of another day of true rest. In context therefore, this 'another day of rest' is called "Today", which refers to the day of salvation, and salvation thus brings one into the eternal rest of God. Verse 9 calls this rest as the Sabbath rest for the people of God, thus showing us the meaning behind the sign of the Sabbath, which is to symbolize the day of salvation and ceasing of striving to earn it. That salvation is by God's grace not by works is elucidated in verse 10, stating that when we believers have entered that rest of God, we rest from our works "as God did from His".
In summary therefore, we can see that Heb. 3:7- 4:11 show us that the eternal rest of God is that rest by which believers enter when they are saved and thus ceased from striving and attempting to work out their salvation. This rest of God is prefigured by the Creation Sabbath as shown in Heb. 4:4, and explicitly called a Sabbath rest in Heb. 4:9, thus showing forth that the Sabbath is a memorial of God's Creation rest, and both are meant as prefigurements of the eternal Sabbath which is the time, "Today", of salvation when people are saved by faith alone in Christ. The passage in Hebrews therefore show us the reason behind the Sabbath. Within the larger context of Hebrews, which is on the superiority of the New Covenant and the fulfillment of the types and shadows of the Ceremonial law, the ceremonial aspects of the Sabbath is hereby also fulfilled in Christ in that eternal Sabbath of "Today", the day of salvation. And therefore the entire idea of keeping the Sabbath ceremonially on specific days are fulfilled and practically abolished, being part of the Ceremonial law. This can be seen as we look at Col. 2:16-17, which states
Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. (Col. 2:16-17)
The context is the ritual keeping of days whether it be new moons or Sabbath. Together with the passage in Hebrews, Col. 2:17 states forth that they are a shadow of the things to come and thus part of the ceremonial aspect of the Law. And in the particular case of the Sabbath, the Sabbath as being the observance of the seventh day (Heb. 4:4) has been fulfilled in the fullness of the New Covenant in Christ who purchased salvation in the eternal Sabbath rest for us who believe. Therefore, the Sabbath as the ritualistic keeping of anyday, not only the Seventh Day alone, is abrogated by the coming of the New Covenant, and as such those who insist on ritualistic Sabbath keeping are unwittingly reverting back to the Old Covenant and thus back to the Law as an instrument of salvation as under the Mosaic Covenant.
Now, it may be objected that the Greek word σαββατον (Sabbaton) is not used here in Heb. 4:9, but the word σαββατισμος (Sabbatismos). However, it can be easily seen that σαββατισμος is a derivative of σαββατον, and the difference is that Sabbatismos refers to a keeping Sabbath compared to a mere Sabbath. Another objection may be that the word rest (καταπαυσις katapausis) is not the same as Sabbath, but the context as can be seen in Heb. 4:4 shows that the rest is being compared to the Creation Sabbath rest. Since we have seen also that the normal Sabbath rest instituted in the Decalogue is based upon the Creation Sabbath, and in fact, the word Sabbath appears only in reference to its institution in the Decalogue and in other parts of the Law, never before that (for example in the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), the Mosaic Sabbath is the Old Covenant prefigurement of the New Covenant eternal rest and therefore the argument in Hebrews does indeed prove the fulfillment of the ceremonial ritualistic keeping of the Sabbath in the New Covenant day of salvation, "Today".
Understanding the fourth commandment in light of the totality of Scripture
So how then shall we interpret the fourth commandment in light of the totality of Scripture? Since the fourth commandment is placed in the Decalogue, the observation of the Sabbath must be part of the Moral law and thus for us Christians to obey still. Yet, we have seen that the keeping of the seventh-day Sabbath is fulfilled in Christ in the institution of the New Covenant, and as such the ritualistic keeping of the Sabbath has been made obsolete with the passing of the Old Covenant (Heb. 8:13). Therefore, what remains is the keeping of the Sabbath as a day for the Lord and in remembrance of His work of redemption. As the keeping of days has been abolished, the Sabbath is thus no more limited to any single day, let alone Saturday the Seventh Day, or even Sunday the first day. There is thus no more "holy day(s)" as such in which Christians are to keep. The only thing binding upon Christians by the fourth commandment is the keeping of one day in seven as a memorial [not for law-keeping] unto the Lord for His great salvation work, and therefore to take time out from our busy schedule to worship and spend time with God. This therefore is the correct understanding and application of the fourth commandment in light of the New Covenant for Christians today, and to this we must abide.
The question is then asked therefore as to whence come the custom of celebrating the Christian Sabbath on Sunday, if any day is in fact permissible. Celebration of the Christian Sabbath on a Sunday is therefore not a biblical imperative but rather an ecclesiastical rule made by the Universal Church of our Lord Jesus Christ since its early inception in Acts even, and being such we should obey her. Such a rule is made primarily because Jesus was raised on the first day of the week, Sunday (Mt. 28:1, Mk. 16:2, Lk. 24:1, Jn. 20:1) and therefore the Church desires to worship her Lord on that same day. [Remember that the Sabbath is linked to redemption!] This therefore is the primary rationale upon which the Church changed the Sabbath to Sunday. This can even be seen already in apostolic times when the apostle Paul in Acts 20:7 spoke and preached to believers on Sunday, in which there is the breaking of bread in Holy Communion. In 1 Cor. 16:2 similarly, a collection was made for the saints in Jerusalem on the first day of the week, and most assuredly unless they met on that day they could not have had such a collection. Such a collection was done so that Paul when he came did not need to collate all the contributions himself, and therefore this meant that the collection was to a central storage area in the place which functioned as a church in the city of Corinth for the Corinthian believers.
As we look into the application of the fourth commandment, we must remember always that the Sabbath have both a ceremonial and a moral part to it. The ceremonial aspect have been fulfilled in Christ and thus abrogated as far as our observance of it is concerned. As it has been said earlier, the Sabbath for the Christian now is that we may set aside one day in seven specially to worship our God together as a corporate assembly of believers, and to remember His work of redemption on our behalf. Since such is the case, there are no particular rules whatsoever that binds us with regards to the Sabbath as they belong to its ceremonial aspect. The only thing which constrains us with regards to the Sabbath is that anything which impedes our observance of the Sabbath as we ought to as Christians are wrong for us. Therefore, we should not work on the Sabbath but spend time with God on it. Anything which goes further than that, ie prohibition to eat out on Sunday, is legalism and a throwback to the Old Covenant Law. After all, the Sabbath was made to serve Man, not Man for the Sabbath (Mk. 2:27).
In conclusion, we have seen that the Law of God have three parts: the Moral, Ceremonial and the Civil, of which the Ceremonial and the Civil law have been abrogated. The Sabbath in its ceremonial aspects have been fulfilled in Christ as shown in Heb. 3:7 - 4:11 in the eternal rest of God, the finished work of our redemption. Such ceremonial aspects of the Sabbath include rules and regulations of Sabbath-keeping, as well as the ritualistic format of it being on the seventh-day. Therefore, the Sabbath for the Christian is not on any one day but on a day of his own choosing. Yet, the Universal Church has decided to keep Sunday as the Christian Sabbath early on in its history as Jesus Christ her Lord rose from the dead on that day, and therefore we who are part of the Church must follow her. The Christian Sabbath on Sunday is for us Christians to take time off our busy schedule and spend time worshipping our God and remembering His work on the Cross for our salvation. May we therefore learn how to obey the fourth commandment in light of the New Covenant as Christians, and not follow the Sabbatarianism and the legalistic works-righteousness of those like the Seventh-Day Adventists who insist on following the Seventh-Day Sabbath and that only, and therefore fall upon the curse of the Law in the Old Covenant. Amen.
 The sine qua non of Dispensationalism is that there is a clear distinction between Israel and the Church. Israel is not the Church, and the Church is not Israel; never ever in Scripture. Therefore, all promises made to Israel remain with Israel and are in no way or fashion applicable to the Church at all.
 Christian Zionism is the yoking together of two separate systems: Christianity and Zionism. Zionism is a political philosophy which promotes the creation, support and well-being of the Jewish nation state of Israel in the land of Palestine, the ancient homeland of the Jews (derived from source). While Zionism being a political philosophy is more or less spiritually neutral, Christian Zionism by yoking the both of them together mixes Zionism into Christianity, and therefore treads into potentially dangerous waters as support for Israel and the Jews in Zionism may conflict with the biblical truth that Jews apart from Christ are lost just as everybody else. Nowhere is this conflict played out against the Gospel as in the teachings of "Christian" Zionist and word-faith heretic John Hagee.
 John Hagee denies that Jews need to believe in Jesus to be saved; they are saved as Jews, in his book In Defense of Israel (FrontLine, 2007). Read the article The Other Gospel of John Hagee — Christian Zionism and Ethnic Salvation by G. Richard Fisher for a good expose of Hagee's heresies (http://www.pfo.org/jonhagee.htm)
 I will not be going into New Perspectivism, except to note that it involves a more positive take on 1st century Judaism and Pharisaism than traditional Reformed views. For more information, see the page at Monergism.com on the subject matter. (http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/New-Perspective/)
 For more information on the disturbing Rabbinic influences 'channeled' through Rob Bell from his teacher Ray VanderLaan, see Rob Bell and His Echoes of Ray VanderLaan (http://www.apprising.org/archives/2008/04/rob_bell_and_hi_1.html), by Pastor Ken Silva.
 For more information on what is Inductive Bible Study, see What is Inductive Bible Study? (http://www.precept.org/site/PageServer?pagename=101_whatisinductivestudy)
 For a good exposition of this passage, see Richard D. Phillips, Turning Back the Darkness: The Biblical Pattern of Reformation (Crossway Books, Wheaton, Il, USA, 2002)
 For example, the Westminster Confession of Faith states:
III. Besides this law, commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel, as a Church under age, ceremonial laws, containing several typical ordinances, partly of worship, prefiguring Christ, his graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits; and partly holding forth divers instructions of moral duties. All which ceremonial laws are now abrogated under the New Testament.
IV. To them also, as a body politic, he gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any other, now, further than the general equity thereof may require
(WCF, Chapter XIX: Of the Law of God)