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 (The Doctrine of Sabbath)
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After six days of creation, God rested from His work. He blessed the seventh day and sanctified it. Later, when Jesus came to the world and preached the gospel of the kingdom, He explained those divine actions, saying, �The Sabbath was made for man� (Mk 2:27).

After Adam sinned the land became cursed: it brought forth thorns and thistles, and man was destined to eat the fruit of his labours with the sweat upon his brow until he returned to dust. It meant that his life would be without respite; the longer he lived, the heavier the curse. For Adam and those early ancestors who were to live for hundreds of years, this would have been endless torment. Fortunately, God had prepared His mercy beforehand�the Sabbath, a mercy that would remain forever. It was evidence of His all-knowing and all-powerful nature, proving that His kindness always goes before man�s failure and that God does not need to follow behind, picking up the pieces that result from his rebellion.

God gave the Sabbath day as a sign to those who belonged to Him (Ex 31:12-17). It was also a �perpetual covenant�, meaning they could enjoy this weekly rest throughout the generations until they finally entered into another �rest��an eternal Sabbath (Heb 4:9). It is unfortunate, then, that man had to experience failures before they realized God�s grace and mercy:

Now while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation. They put him under guard, because it had not been explained what should be done to him. Then the Lord said to Moses, �The man must surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.� So, as the Lord commanded Moses, all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him with stones, and he died.

����������� Numbers 15:32-36

Was it actually the case that �it had not been explained what should be done�? In truth, even before God gave the two tablets of commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai, He stipulated that whoever did any work on the Sabbath would be cut off from the people and be put to death (Ex 31:12�17). This fact indicates man�s weakness: he often fails to trust in God�s words or to realize how serious He is about what He says. The outcome is that he will take a chance or test how far he can push the boundaries.�

Furthermore, man often makes the mistake of viewing God�s ways through human compassion, leading him to look for a temporary tolerance instead of embracing God�s long-lasting love and mercy. It was God�s firm and unmovable intention for man to receive the blessing of rest. Therefore, God refused to tolerate a careless act that would spoil the whole purpose of His love; He could not bear to see His loved ones looking lightly upon the Sabbath and ultimately abandoning it.

Today, many people fail to grasp the importance of the Sabbath, never mind the divine will behind the act of stoning. They cannot comprehend the fact that God is serious about imparting His grace. Hence, when Jesus came to the world, He had to explain God�s intention: the Sabbath is not meant to bind man�to make him lose his freedom to work�rather, it releases him from toil and labour. Therefore, it is not a restriction but an enjoyment, for it is on this day that man can truly receive physical and spiritual rest (Mk 2:23-28). Importantly, by resting in this way, he looks forward to the time when life�s labour is over and he can enter into the eternal rest (Heb 4:1-11).

On one occasion, when Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees about His disciples� alleged trespassing of the Sabbath, He responded by saying, �Have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?� (Mt 12:5). Also, when tested with the question �Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?� He answered, �It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath� (Mt 12:12). The Lord�s words highlight that serving in the sanctuary and performing good works on the Sabbath are permissible. Importantly, He mentioned no other exceptions with regards to working. Indeed, Jesus Himself set a good example by attending Sabbath worship (Lk 4:16, 31, 44) and doing good deeds (Lk 6:6�11; 14:1�6), as did the believers in the early church (Acts 13:14-15, 42, 44; 16:13; 17:2).

Some people argue that the Bible offers no evidence of Gentile Christians attending Sabbath worship, and that the latter is not required on account of the grace that was ushered in through the blood of Jesus Christ. However, it is worth noting that when an issue was raised at the Council in Jerusalem concerning whether Gentile believers should be circumcised, James, the brother of Jesus, made this conclusion before the apostles and elders:

Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.

����������� Acts 15:19-21

The four things mentioned by James were not meant to be an exhaustive list of requirements for a godly life; rather, they were those matters that the Gentile believers had to take extra care to avoid on account of the adverse social environment. To be pleasing to the Lord, a believer would still need to learn from Moses and the prophets and to put their teachings into practice. James was confident to make that judgment because he knew that the Gentile Christians would do just that in the synagogues on the Sabbath.�

Today, there are important questions that need to be answered for the benefit of those wishing to understand the truth of the Sabbath. They include: how did the status and meaning of the day come to change over the course of human history? And how should Christians uphold this commandment from God in this era of grace? These answers can be found in The Doctrine of the Sabbath, the latest addition to the IA DLM�s Doctrinal Series. It has been adapted from an original book by Deacon James Chiang, The Holy Sabbath, published in Chinese in November 2004. The latter was the result of careful research, compilation and analysis from both a historical and biblical perspective.

The Doctrine of the Sabbath is the combined result of God�s guidance and tremendous teamwork. Those who helped to make its publication possible include: Sister Christina Chan from New Zealand, who translated the text into English; Sister Janet Yaw from Canada, who proofreading the initial draft; Brother Will Yang and Sister Margaret Ho, who did the graphic design work; members of the IA DLM team in the UK, including an editor, translator and proofreaders; the IA Review Board members; brethren from around the globe who contributed their personal testimonies or interviewed other members on behalf of the DLM team. May God remember their contribution and bless their service.

We pray that the readers of this book may understand the intention of God to bless man, and that they will treasure the Sabbath day. We also pray that God remembers the dedication and labour of Deacon Chiang whose work underpins this project.


KC Tsai

Department of Literary Ministry

International Assembly of the True Jesus Church


� January 2012 True Jesus Church.

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