Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Lesson 5: Christ as the Lord of the Sabbath

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Luke
Lesson 5: Christ as the Lord of the Sabbath


Come back with me, across the centuries to a day nearly two thousand years ago, to the humble little village of Nazareth. We make our way down the narrow cobblestone street, past the little shops with their open fronts. We see the workmen plying their trades as we pass one shop after another.

We come to a shop that is different. The front is neatly whitewashed, and the street has been swept. We enter and find a kindly, stalwart man plying the carpenter's trade, and by his side a young assistant perhaps twenty-one years of age. The young man is planing a piece of wood, making it true, making it straight. He rests a moment and wipes His brow. For He is none other than the Prince of heaven, King Jesus, come to cast His lot with the toilers and the poor.

We come back again, for we are fascinated by the little shop. We come back on Saturday, but the shop is closed. We notice that the people are all walking toward a conspicuous building in the center of the village. We follow them and find our seats in the rear of a well-filled church. To our surprise we see the carpenter's Son make His way into the pulpit and begin to read: "And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read" (Luke 4:16).

Jesus' custom was Sabbath-keeping. Your Saviour and mine, from the first to the last of His ministry, kept only one day--the seventh day of the commandment--as the Sabbath.

Our name, Seventh-day Adventists, proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ. The seventh-day Sabbath is God's rest of the gospel in Jesus Christ. Could it be that this is what Ellen White means when she said we shall proclaim "the Sabbath more fully"? [1] It is the seal of God's love in the hearts of His people.

What God Intended the 1888 Message to Accomplish

E. J. Waggoner offered a thoughtful comment: "An intelligent contemplation of God's creation gives us a true conception of His power; for His eternal power and Godhead are understood by the things which He has made. ... It is faith that gives victory; therefore, since faith comes by learning the power of God, from His word and from the things that He has made, we gain the victory, to triumph through the works of His hands. The Sabbath, therefore, which is the memorial of creation, is, if properly observed, a source of the Christian's greatest reinforcement in battle." [2] We have long known that the message of Revelation 18 will be God's people presenting "the Sabbath more fully." [3] Obviously, that is what God intended the 1888 message to accomplish for us.

God created the earth in six days and He rested on the seventh day. This made the Sabbath God's day of rest. He ended His work which He had done on the six days of creation. The seventh day was His perfect rest.

The Sabbath: The Sign of Peace. How is the Sabbath the sign of the message of the cross of Christ? The Sabbath was the original sign of peace with Adam before sin entered. The Sabbath is the sign of peace with God for those whose "self" is crucified with Christ. The Sabbath was the original sign of peace in the pristine world and in the earth made new. The Sabbath is to be the sign of God's everlasting covenant peace with restored mankind in the new earth.

How does the message of Jesus' cross reveal the Sabbath truth more fully? What is the connection of the Sabbath and the atonement Christ gives sinners? The meaning of the word "atonement" is at-one-ment. How does God make rebels to be at peace with Him? The following is an explanation of the connection between the 1888 message and the seventh day Sabbath as presented in the Gospel of Luke.

Christ completed His work of creation in six days and rested on the seventh day. Christ completed His perfect sacrifice on Calvary the sixth day--Friday--and He rested in the tomb on the seventh day. The sign of His "rest" in triumph over sin is the Sabbath. The women who embalmed His body for burial, "rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment" (Luke 23:56), with Him on the seventh day. The Sabbath is Christ's memorial of creation and redemption. The Sabbath is Christ's declaration of peace to sinners. He legally declared to all His forgiveness of sinners with the words, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).

Jesus exposed the "unknown sin" that is buried in the heart of every rebel. It is the root of our controversy with God. It is the cause of our misapprehension of His nature as being a God of anger and wrath against us. The cause of our distrust of God is that hidden within lurks the desire to get rid of God. Sinners blame God for all their guilt, unrest. They look upon Him as being demanding with all kinds of rules too difficult and restricting. If we could just get rid of God then we would have peace.

Really the problem is not getting rid of God. The problem is to get rid of our misapprehensions regarding the nature of God as wrathful toward sinners, and to see His love for you and me revealed in the death of Christ. Jesus died on the cross to reveal our unconscious sin that we want to get rid of Him. If we can see that, then we can begin to know what forgiveness means.

The atonement is about God winning our rebel hearts. The atonement has nothing to do with changing God's disposition toward us as sinners. "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself" (2 Cor. 5:19). "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Rom. 5:10).

What is the true atonement? God does not need to be reconciled to sinners. Sinners need the atonement in order to be reconciled to God. God will never be reconciled to "sin." But He gives the atonement of Jesus' death for sinners to be reconciled to Him.

Paul sets forth the true concept of the atonement in these words: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:23).

Here is God's gift of justification for "all" who "have sinned." It is a universal gift. That God would give to sinners a legal acquittal is a gift which demonstrates the enormity of His love. All sinners should be dead because death is the wages of sin; but, the fact is, all sinners live. Why? Because Jesus died the death which all sinners earned, and now God can plead before the universe that His law is just and upheld. The law has been maintained. He gives a second probationary period of time for individual sinners to see and appreciate His gift so that they, as individuals, may be reconciled to Him by the death of His Son.

Jesus: the "Rest" From Sin. When Jesus died on Friday and rested in the tomb on the Sabbath day, God declared His peace to the whole world of sinners. He gave "rest" from sin to all. Jesus is the "rest" from sin to all restless-hearted sinners.

The reconciliation of sinners' hearts is justification by faith. "Whom God [the Father] hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His [Jesus'] blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Rom. 3:24-26). It is not just Jesus' sacrifice, for that is what the word "propitiation" means, it is God's sacrifice. God does not need the "propitiation" to appease His anger toward sinners and thus be reconciled to them, we are the ones who need the "propitiation." It is sinners who are filled with the dark, misapprehensions about the character of God.

The sinner now experiences a change of heart. He is born again by the regeneration of God's manifestation of love in Jesus' death for him or her personally. He experiences justification by faith which is the forgiveness of sins. His past sins are remitted, that is, they are removed. He knows this to be the case because He believes God's word on this.

--Paul E. Penno


[1] "I saw that God had children who do not see and keep the Sabbath. They have not rejected the light upon it. And at the commencement of the time of trouble, we were filled with the Holy Ghost as we went forth and proclaimed the Sabbath more fully." Ellen G. White, Early Writings, p. 33 (emphasis added).
[2] Ellet J. Waggoner, Christ and His Righteousness, p. 43 (Glad Tidings ed.).
[3] Early Writings, pp. 33, 85.

Note: "Sabbath School Today" and Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson are on the Internet at: http://1888mpm.org