Biblical Audio Commentary – Sabbath Sabotage
For the last couple of years, I’ve been speaking to someone about the Lord in the hope that he would turn to Him as his Savior. This man (who I’ll call Mr. X) is extremely well-read and knowledgeable in many areas. When he and I began talking, he was exploring extra-Biblical ideas and concepts, particularly in the realm of the pagan nations surrounding Israel and their gods, as well as the idea that man altered the natural God harmonic to add dissonance to it in everyday music. As anyone who has followed me for any length of time, you probably know that the supernatural in the Bible – plus, of course, Bible prophecy – are very much in my wheelhouse. As a result, where some other solid Christians couldn’t connect with Mr. X, I could because I spoke his language.
As part of his extensive reading and study, Mr. X says that he has read the Bible numerous times. Of late, he now declares that he has confessed Jesus as his Lord per Romans 10:9-10:
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
Normally, this would be a cause for celebration, but there’s something wrong. Subjective on my part is that I don’t sense renewal in his life. Objectively, his focus has shifted. Mr. X has been concentrating on the issue of the Sabbath. We talked about this in relation to the Seventh Day Adventists, but it doesn’t appear that he has any interest in joining with them. What he continues to insist on is that Christianity for 2000 years has gotten it wrong, and that our day of honoring the Lord should remain the Jewish Sabbath of Saturday (or more accurately, from sundown Friday through sundown Saturday).
In our discussions I’ve tried to reason that Christians celebrate our Lord on Sunday because Jesus rose on that day as the first day of the week. We can also add that when John received his Revelation at Patmos, he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. This is the only reference to this in the Bible, thus unique; in contrast is the Day of the Lord which pertains to the end times.
None of this reasoning has reached Mr. X. He lists multiple verses that all connect for him and solidify his resolve that the proper day for Christianity as “the Lord’s Day” is Sabbath Saturday.
I’ve said that based on the Apostle Paul’s writings, as to one person celebrating this day or that, or eating meat or not, if Mr. X wants to worship on Saturday, that’s fine – go for it. The problem is that with his focus on the Sabbath, I’m not seeing that he’s got his eyes on Jesus as being sufficient. He acknowledges Jesus, but he appears not to be surrendering to Him and accepting His grace.
Another disquieting aspect of this for me is that he believes he’s been led from one Scripture to another by the Lord in confirmation of his position. It makes me wonder, however, if it’s really the Lord leading him. We know that Satan is more than happy if we pursue religion and legalism as long as Jesus isn’t placed at the center.
All this has also reinforced what Paul wrote regarding new believers. Now, I’ll accept that Mr. X has indeed made a confession of faith – who am I to know his heart? Yet, the Apostle was adamant against any kind of legalism rather than the truth and grace of Jesus, and he wrote strongly about new believers, i.e. that they should not be put into positions of authority in the church. Not that he’s currently got the potential to be placed in such authority, but the situation with Mr. X proves this out.
I’m sensing pride in this position he’s taken and little surrender. Has he repented? I don’t know, but with his particular background that’s a very difficult thing to ask of him. Paul stressed that indeed pride has the potential of getting the best of new converts, and that’s the last thing that’s needed in a person’s life or in the life of the church.
As well-read as Mr. X is, and his correct assessment that many in the church are Biblically illiterate and not terribly knowledgeable regarding Christianity, Judaism, or the Ancient Middle East, it’s easy to see how he could potentially be disdainful as arrogance rises.
I don’t know how this will play out. It obviously concerns me enough to speak about in this format. I continue to pray that the Lord will reveal Himself as needed to Mr. X so that his focus is directed where it should be – that he would truly surrender and repent. If anyone has had a similar encounter, I’d be most interested to hear about it. If you feel so moved, it would be great if any of you would pray for him as well.
I don’t see an issue with Mr. X following the Biblical Sabbath. In fact I fully agree with him. Nowhere in the Word does it state that the early church ever kept Sunday as the “Lords Day.” Quite the opposite, they kept the Sabbath, Greeks and Jews alike. I also keep the 7th day Sabbath because Christ did. What Christ did, that’s what I’ll do. Everyone agrees on all 9 of the 10 commandments except for the 4th, and there’s a reason, or entity, behind all the confusion. God made the Sabbath for man and for a reason.
I will be praying for Mr. X. It’s interesting you posted this because in a way it’s similar to a struggle I’ve had with my own deceased fathers salvation and how his pride was his downfall.
My father accepted Christ as his savior in the 80’s when talk of the rapture was very prevalent. At first he was on fire about telling people about the rapture and was very involved in a Calvary Chapel. Because of his belief many in our family accepted Christ including his current wife, myself, my sister and mother, aunts and uncles and eventually my fathers parents.
Over the years all of us grew in our faith except my father. His excitement of the rapture wore off after a handful of years and the fire was gone. He showed absolutely no fruit or desire to plant seeds, it’s as if the rapture was just a means of escape from his sinful past (including adultery and cruel treatment of my mother) and since it had not occurred when he wanted it to, he backslid big time.
His second wife during this period treated my sister and I like her own children. She continually grew in her faith and to this day is on fire for the Lord. My father treated her terribly after he backslid, he was verbally abusive and a tyrant. After much prayer and sticking by him for a few more years (after seeking guidance from our pastor at CC) she decided to finally divorce him because there was zero repentance or change on his part.
He remarried a third time, she was a close friend of my step mothers and it’s believed he did this for revenge. This woman was also born again but she had very little influence on him and this marriage also ended in divorce. The two women remained dear friends throughout.
During all these years my father did some very cruel and vengeful things to me, my husband, my sister and her husband, my mother and many others. He continued to spiral downward and we finally had to remove him completely from our lives because of the damage he was causing. He ended up dying alone mostly from liver damage as his diet ended up consisting mostly of beer (he was never much of a a drinker prior to this). Was he truly born again? It would seem he wasn’t, but I have to trust what Romans 10:9-10 tells us and I’m reminded the thief on the cross, in that final moment, only believed and was saved.
Mr. X is well read and knowledgeable and this could be hindering him with pride. Like you said, Satan will happily keep influencing him to believe he knows better. But all believers are still sinners and suffer from pride and every other sin. In Mr. Xs case he confesses Jesus as his Lord and like you said who are we to judge another’s heart and if they’re truly saved? If he claims salvation we need to pray for his pride not to be a stumbling block that Satan can use. What Satan uses for evil God can use for good. His legalistic ideas are causing you to challenge him and provide the conversations you are having with him, which I’m sure he enjoys (as most intellectuals love debate). It may seem like you are not getting through to him but I’m sure God is using you in a mighty way with this man. You are presenting him with facts that at some point in his walk will be too hard to deny. This in turn is causing you to remain sharp.
Looking at my fathers life as a whole it would appear he was as sinful as they come, But God! Through my father many in my family on both sides came to salvation. My step mother and I were just having this conversation. She is a strong, godly woman and is still like a mother to my sister and I after my mom passed away in 2010. All the pain he caused, God still used him in a powerful way and I’m forever grateful!
I had to turn my fathers situation over to Christ, it was too confusing for me to sort out and I didn’t want the enemy to use him to cast doubt on Gods plan of salvation and what He tells us about simply believing like the thief on the cross did.
I also know several people who claim to be saved but God is never mentioned in conversations. It’s troubling, but I trust that God knows what he’s doing and that maybe we are still here not just for non believers but for those believers who need more refining and readying (myself included) before we meet the Lord in the clouds.
Thank you, Kim, for sharing your account. So odd about your father and his loss of fervor! Like the Parable of the Sower Mark 4:16-17: “And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.”
I wonder how that works as to the way God views them eternally? Thankfully, your dad did bear initial fruit in your family. Having seen that, it’s a puzzle how he could fall away – perhaps like you say that he never felt he really escaped his sinful past.
Our focus needs to be Jesus. If it’s not, well…there’s bound to be problems.
The Mark passage sums it up nicely. And yes, I often wonder how my fathers earthly life will impact his eternal life (if in fact he is there).
We are under grace not under the law. Ex31 talks about keeping the sabath. God gave it to Moses and the Jews. It was to Israel. The penalty for not keeping the law was DEATH. If Mr X wants to keep the law then he must do the whole law. I prefer grace myself.
Agreed. You’d think he’d see that, but not so far.
Could he be caught up in the “Hebrew Roots” movement? It would be interesting to know how he views the celebration of “holidays”…but that’s another ball of wax. I respect a Messianic Jewish teacher who recently said, “These people are becoming more legalistic than the Pharisees ever thought of being.” Food for thought. Maranatha…and to all of us, both the word AND the spirit of the law, and full-counsel at that. Straining at gnats and swatting at camels does little to advance the cause of Christ. Titus 1:15 and Romans 14 for “disputable matters.” It need not be an issue either way.
Unlikely. He’s very independent and relies on his own research. I was hoping to disciple him a little which might have helped, but he never made the time. I did predict to him that eventually he would realize that it’s Jesus alone who is sufficient.
I would be more concerned with salvation issues. If he has confessed with his mouth, and truly believes in his heart that Jesus is Who the Bible says He is, he is saved. Many people get tied up with peripheral issues that dominate their time and their minds. I have been reading prophecy for over 45 years and not tired of it but it does not sidetrack my focus on Jesus. Perhaps Mr. X is the type of person to get obsessed with certain thoughts and needs to work it out in his own mind to a successful conclusion. (His idea of successful)
I think you’re absolutely correct in that. He does his research and comes to certain conclusions, but my concern is whether he’s really repented and given his heart truly to the Lord. Confessing is one thing, but without repentance there is no salvation.