We have received a great number of responses to the article “What Is the Christian Sabbath?” Almost half of the responses have been very positive. A few were more reserved, thanking us for the article and saying they would study into the subject further. But the remainder were negative comments from those who keep the seventh-day Sabbath. Somewhat surprisingly, we have received no negative comments from Sunday-Sabbath keepers or Lord’s Day keepers.
Have you ever wondered what day Christians are to keep? Saturday? Sunday? Are we to keep the day as a Sabbath or as a Lord’s Day? Or maybe there is no day for Christians to keep. This might sound like a relatively minor issue. But this question, simple as it sounds, has divided Christianity into four camps, each supporting its own view.
William Gadsby was the pastor of the Strict Baptist church in Manchester, England, for 38 years. Today, he is best known for his hymnbook, A Selection of Hymns for Public Worship (better known as Gadsby's Hymns), which he describes as a "selection of hymns [written by Gadsby, Hart, and others] free from Arminianism and sound in the faith." In my opinion, it remains the best collection of sovereign grace hymns ever compiled. In his day, he was also known for his preaching. He preached nearly 12,000 sermons. He also traveled over 60,000 miles, often by foot and helped start forty congregations. The following article is excerpted from his work, The Present State of Religion. I think that anyone might profit from it, but if you happen to think that the Ten Commandments are the believer’s rule of life, you might try answering Gadsby’s questions. Can you?
Dear Sir, Friend G. informs me you wish me to write to you, and inform you what law it is that I say the believer is in no sense under. I therefore write to say (though I cannot help thinking you must know) that it is the law given to Moses on Mount Sinai, commonly called the moral law, or ten commandments, recorded in Exod 20, and hinted at, with its curses annexed to it, in Deut 27. This is the law I intend, and do venture to say that the believer in Christ is in no sense whatever under it; so that it is not a rule of life to that man who is led by the Spirit. As you promised to answer me if I should write to you, I will propose to you a few questions, and I hope I shall do it in the fear of God, and shall expect you to answer them in plainness of speech; and,
1st. If the law is the believer’s rule of life, I shall thank you to tell me what is intended by the letter written by the apostles and elders, and sent to the believing Gentiles, as recorded in Acts 15, and shall expect you to explain the chapter.
A. The question stems from a statement I made in another article. I began by quoting a nineteenth-century Baptist preacher:
Notice what the Baptist preacher, Gilbert Beebe, wrote in 1869: “There are but few lessons in the gospel, which the saints have been more slow to learn and fully comprehend, than that of our release from the law, and marriage to Christ” (“Loosed From the Law“).
Beebe’s claim that this is a lesson that the saints are slow to learn can be seen in the battle Christian conservatives have fought to allow the Ten Commandments to be posted in public places. I understand the issues of religious freedoms and free speech involved, but why the Ten Commandments? Why not the Sermon on the Mount? Or the Golden Rule, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31). Another example can be heard in many churches every Sunday morning. If you attend one of these churches, you will likely see the pastor stand at the pulpit and read the Ten Commandments every Sunday morning. But this is an error.
“Dead to the Law“
A. I have, as you pointed out, many times explained that the Ten Commandments do not apply to Christians, but were given only to Old Testament Israel (check out the list of articles under “Covenant and Law” on our articles index page). To answer your question, I will first go to the gospel of John. In John 13:34, Jesus says, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” In John 15:10-12, He further says, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” So we see that Jesus clearly identifies His commandments as loving one another.