Fulfilled in Jesus

Our pilgrimage with our Beloved in Japan -- Yoko & Ramone on the journey with Jesus!

Monday, May 04, 2009

The Adventist Sabbath

Inner Cry

This is a picture that came as I was praying about an understanding the Lord had given me regarding the Sabbath in Adventism. It's taken me awhile to post this picture up because I don't want to be offensive, and I don't know exactly how to summarize this yet. You can read some of the story of how this picture came about here on the FAF forum: The Adventist Sabbath

The few times I had visited a synagogue for a Friday evening Shabbat service, I was struck by how joyful everything was. People were having fun. There was a sense of family, of kinship, of enjoyment. It was completely different than what I had observed or experienced in Adventism -- and I've seen more than a fair share of the Adventist spectrum.

The Jews celebrate Shabbat because they feel God gave it to them. They recognize that God didn't give it to the whole world. When they get together it is a celebration of who they are, of community, and of belief in Jehovah. Incidentally, the symbol of Shabbat seems to be the lighting of the Shabbat candles -- something almost unknown in Adventism.

With Adventism, we tried to make the holiday joyful. We tried to feel rested. A lot of us felt like we succeeded. But there was a certain added weight to it. We didn't keep Sabbath simply because it was our culture. There was something salvational to it. "It makes Jesus happy" is how many of us rationalized it when others confronted us with the gospel of God's grace. Deep underneath, we were terribly afraid that we would make Him unhappy if we didn't keep Sabbath. Like the president of the General Conference of SDA articulated not many years ago, there is a fear that being Adventist has a direct bearing on our salvation.

One day I felt the Lord say to me:

"The Adventist 'Sabbath' is not the Sabbath I gave My Israelite children. The Adventist Sabbath is not rooted in representing Jesus Christ, as is the Sabbath that I gave to the Israelites. Rather, the Adventist Sabbath is rooted in the Investigative Judgment."

The foundation of Adventism had already been laid in the Sanctuary (Investigative Judgment) doctrine, which had come by rejecting the sufficiency of gospel of grace that Christian churches believed in, and establishing new criteria for salvation that depended on the "present truths" of Adventism. "The Sabbath" was added to this package a few years later. Sabbath thus became rooted not in the Bible, but in being a necessity that you had to do in order to make it through "the investigative judgment".

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

- John 5:24

Christ came to give us rest in Him, in Him Himself. "Come to Me and I will give you rest" is how He said it. Paul wrote that the Sabbath days and all other festivals were shadows of Jesus Christ. Like the sacrificial lambs, the Sabbath was a shadow of the rest for our souls in Jesus. We lay down our works, and enter into His rest. And as Hebrews 4 says, we enter this rest by faith, and we may enter it today -- any day. It is not limited. This is a rest that trusts in the merit of Jesus Christ. It trusts in His work instead of in our works.

Sadly, it is the complete opposite of the Investigative Judgment. The Investigative Judgment declares that our works are what God looks at, and that we must conform to Christ's perfection in order to "pass" the judgment and be saved. Christianity, in contrast, declares that God will conform us to Christ's image because He has already saved us. But Adventism and Ellen White had declared we were not to say we were saved... because after all, the "investigative judgment" had not been finished yet.

Christ came to give us rest. He is the Shepherd with the sheep in the background of this picture. In the 1840s, Adventism left the flock to find its own rest. It left the true Pasture, and when it embraced "Sabbath", it embraced the 'good work' believing that without it, one could not be saved or pleasing in God's sight. Such a belief is a place of unrest. This picture shows what many Adventist children and adults have felt like inside when they had to conform to "the Sabbath" because they were told they couldn't be saved or pleasing to God without it. We were led astray, away from our true Rest. And a part of us cried out in pain inside.

But now God is calling us back. He is showing us that the Adventist Sabbath is not what He gave to Israel. It is not rooted in showing who Jesus Christ is. It is not rooted in "rest for our souls", but rather is rooted in salvation by works, which inherently brings unrest and inner distress. He's calling us back to Him Himself, back to the simple gospel, the simple good news that our spiritual forefathers rejected as insufficient to save. He's calling us to lay down the pride of "how far we've come" -- because really it's only how far we've strayed. He's calling us to repent and rest in Him alone, in the merit of His work, trusting Him to be our perfection and righteousness.

"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength."

- Isaiah 30:15