|Chapter 14: The Liberty of The Gospel
We have seen that the primitive Christians in Jerusalem continued to keep the Sabbath. No doubt the resurrection faith filled the ancient rest day with new meaning for them.
We have also seen that Paul opposed Jewish Christians who insisted that Gentile Christians should live as Jews with respect to the Sabbath laws. The gospel brought liberty in such external matters as the observance of days and Jewish food taboos.
We need to remember, however, that Christian liberty works two ways. Unfortunately, some Gentile Christians insisted that Jewish Christians should demonstrate their liberty by abandoning Sabbath observance. This Gentile attitude was as much a denial of the gospel as the disposition to impose Mosaic regulations on Gentile churches.
There are many people who keep a Sabbath to the Lord as an expression of their devotion to Christ, knowing that this makes no contribution to their salvation. Romans 14 is clear that God accepts this expression of devotion and that those who keep a Sabbath to the Lord must not be condemned. People have as much right to set aside an appropriate day to celebrate the redemptive acts of Christ as they have the right to set aside a daily quiet time. Such a day may well have great liturgical benefit.
People with a particular religious heritage may feel that keeping a certain day is most honoring to God. The gospel does not require violent dislocation from their heritage. It gives one person freedom to keep his Sabbath just as it gives another freedom not to keep it. Each needs to remember that if both should ransack the New Testament for evidence, neither could find support for imposing his pattern of worship on the conscience of the other. If what they do is to the Lord, both are accepted by God, and they ought, therefore to accept one another.
Jewish Christians were not required to violate their inbred sensitivities regarding holy days or unclean food. Neither is a Seventh-day Adventist. The gospel gives him the liberty to keep the Sabbath and to eat his gluten steaks. To insist that he must abandon his pattern of worship is to deny the gospel and to come under the censure of Colossians 2:16. Christian love will not make us insensitive to the religious scruples of others.
Those who think that a Jew or an Adventist must stop keeping the Sabbath or start eating pork in order to be justified (at least before others) are just as legalistic as those who insist that a Christian must keep the Sabbath and refrain from pork in order to be justified. So long as the gospel remains paramount, the Christian church is enriched rather than impoverished by diversity.
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