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Grace and the Sabbath

Grace and the Sabbath

Many maintain that the Sabbath commandment was fulfilled by Jesus when He died—and that it no longer applies to New Testament Christians. However, when we look at the record of the early church in the book of Acts, the narrative seems to tell us something different.

Throughout the book, the apostles are shown to continue worshiping on the seventh day of the week long after Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead. When Paul traveled throughout Asia preaching the gospel, he started his work in each new city by worshiping with the Jews in the local synagogue on the Sabbath and sharing with them the truth about Jesus the Messiah.

Acts chapter 13 describes a fascinating account of his work in Antioch. He began as usual—meeting with the local Jewish believers—but the story goes on to explain, “When the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath” (Acts 13:42). Paul agreed to meet with them the following week and explain the gospel to them.

This meeting apparently wasn’t enough for these Gentile seekers. They didn’t want to wait until the coming week and began peppering the teacher with questions about the Messiah. Paul and Barnabas “persuaded them to continue in the grace of God” (Acts 13:43). These new believers, who were learning about God’s grace, came again the next week to learn more. “On the next Sabbath, almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God” (Acts 13:44).

Although Paul often shared the importance of living a victorious Christian life through grace, he never mentioned any kind of change in the day of worship. Instead, he continued to endorse Sabbath-keeping by his example.

This story is one of the many evidences of the apostles’ perseverance in honoring God’s seventh-day Sabbath, a part of His law, while preaching the gospel of grace. Why then are so many convinced that the first day of the week should be the day of worship for New Testament Christians?

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