The Dynamics of the
Everlasting Gospel By E.H. Jack Sequeira
Chapter 11 The Sabbath Rest
The good news of salvation, realized in the holy history of Jesus Christ, is
often described in the New Testament by the word ďrestĒ [Matthew 11:28; Hebrews 4:2-3].
Since the Fall, this promised rest in Christ has been linked with the Sabbath. For
this reason, the major feast days in the Old Testament, pointing to the Messiah and
His redemptive activities, was designated a Sabbath day of rest. The Sabbath,
therefore, is more than a day of rest or even worship, but has definitely a redemptive
significance. Hence, it becomes obvious that the recovery of the full gospel
necessitates the restoration of the Sabbath doctrine.
In this final study of the dynamics of the everlasting gospel, we shall first
attempt to discover the significance of the Sabbath to God; then its relevance to
mankind, in the context of the plan of redemption.
Once this is established, we will proceed to see the place and importance of the
Sabbath in the law of God, as part of the new covenant promise [Hebrews 8:10-13], and
finally, we will conclude with the end-time conflict of the last days, when the
Sabbath will represent Godís seal of righteousness by faith in contrast with and
in opposition to Sunday symbolizing Satanís mark of the beast, representing
self-righteousness or salvation by works [Revelation 7:2-4; 14:9-11].
Significance of the Sabbath to God
The word Sabbath means rest and the first thing we discover about it, in
the Old Testament, is that it belongs to God: ďthe seventh day is the Sabbath
of the Lord thy GodĒ [Exodus 20:10]; ďmy Sabbaths ye shall keepĒ [Exodus 31:13]; ďmy
holy day . . . the holy of the LordĒ [Isaiah 58:13]. In view of this truth, that
the Sabbath belongs only to God, it is unscriptural to label it as the Jewish
Sabbath, as some Christians do. Yes, the Sabbath was made for man [Mark 2:27],
but it does not belong to man, Jew or Gentile.
Having established this fact, that the Sabbath is Godís rest day; why, we
must ask, does an almighty and an all powerful God, who obviously needs no rest
day, set aside the seventh day as His special day of rest? The answer we get
from the Word of God is because the Sabbath was to signify His perfect and
finished work [Genesis 1:31; 2:1-3; Hebrews 4:4]. This fact is extremely important to
our understanding of the Gospel and the doctrine of Righteousness by Faith, as
the next point brings out.
The next thing we must keep in mind about Godís Sabbath is that it is His
seventh day and not ours. According to the Biblical record, God took six days in
creating all that constitutes this planet earth and then set aside (sanctified)
the seventh day as His Sabbath [Exodus 20:11]. Man was created at the very end of
the sixth day [Genesis 1:26-31] and, therefore, Godís seventh day Sabbath was
actually Manís first whole day. This is a most important distinction, especially
when we consider the Sabbath in the light of our redemption in Christ. Let me explain.
God first worked six days in creating this world, and only when His work was
perfect and finished did He rest from all His work [Genesis 2:1-3]. Adam and Eve, on
the other hand, did not begin by working but resting on Godís Sabbath, which was
their first whole day, and then followed it with six days of work. The significance
and importance of this distinction is that mankind, in Adam, began by first receiving
Godís handiwork as an entirely free gift, and then only could they enjoy it during
the rest of the week.
In setting aside or sanctification the Sabbath [Genesis 2:3], God was entering into
an everlasting covenant relationship with man that he was always to be God-dependent.
Hence, when Adam sinned and turned from God-dependence to self-dependence, he actually
broke this God-dependent covenant, symbolized by the Sabbath. The result was: ďIn the
sweat of thy face shall thou eat breadĒ [Genesis 3:19].
Today, history has proved that when man lives without God things get worse [Romans
1:18-28]. But Jesus Christ came into this world for the express purpose of restoring
this rest which mankind lost at the fall [Matthew 11:28]. In doing this, He restored
the significance of the Sabbath and we will discover that, in receiving the good
news of salvation, we must return to this fundamental principal given to our first
Salvation, like creation, begins not by doing something but by resting in the
perfect and finished work realized in the doing and dying of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Only then can we enjoy the benefits and blessings of salvation. In view of this, the
Sabbath rest becomes the very foundation of the glorious truth of Justification or
Righteousness by Faith alone.
When we turn to the New Testament, we discover that both creation as well as
redemption was accomplished by God through Jesus Christ [Creation John 1:3;
Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16; Revelation 3:14. Redemption John 3:16-17;
Romans 3:24; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Galatians 3:13; Colossians 1:14; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:12;
1 Peter 1:18; Revelation 5:9]. Just as Christ finished creation at the end of the sixth
day and rested the seventh day, likewise He finished redemption on the cross on the sixth
day and rested in the tomb the seventh day [John 17:4; 19:30].
Further, Christís work of restoration [1 Corinthians 15:24-26; Hebrews 2:13], which
will be realized at the end of His heavenly ministry, is also linked with the Sabbath
[Isaiah 66:22-23]. This is because it will also be a perfect and finished work as was creation
and redemption. Thus, to fallen man the Sabbath has a threefold significance Creation,
Redemption, and Restoration.
Since Christ is both our creator as well as our redeemer and restorer, He had the
perfect right to claim to be the Lord of the Sabbath day [Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5; Revelation 1:10].
Therefore, when the Jewish nation rejected Christ as the Messiah, their Sabbath keeping
became meaningless. It is for this reason the writer of Hebrews, referring to the Jewish
nation, declared: ďthere still remains a keeping of the Sabbath (Gk. sabbatismos) for
Godís peopleĒ [Hebrews 4:9]. Hence, any Sabbath keeping that is not motivated by a faith
response to Christís perfect atonement on the cross is a sham and still belongs to the
old covenant of salvation by works.
Significance of Gods Sabbath to Man
While the Sabbath belongs to God, both the Old and the New Testaments teach it
was made for mankindís benefit [Exodus 31:13; Ezekiel 20:12; Mark 2:27]. As already indicated,
God created the world through Christ for mankind [Genesis 1:26,28; Psalms 8:5; Hebrews 2:6-8].
However, mankind made no contribution to creation, but was only its recipient. Therefore,
the Sabbath rest was set aside (sanctified) for mankind as a constant reminder that God
is the loving provider and man must be solely dependent on Him for all his needs. Even
the garden on Eden, for example, was planted by God for our first parents [Genesis 2:8].
It must be noted that this Sabbath covenant was made with mankind before the fall.
Therefore, had there been no fall we would still be keeping Godís Sabbath as a day of rest.
It is the entrance of sin that destroyed the significance of the Sabbath rest, since sin
is rebellion against God, in exchange for self-dependence [Romans 1:21; Philippians 2:21]. Thus,
when sin separated us from God [Isaiah 59:2], no longer did His Sabbath have any significance.
Man therefore, had to introduce His own rest day, which is Sunday, the day which is
recognized today internationally as manís rest day. However, unlike Godís Sabbath, manís
rest day does not point to a perfect or finished work. This, too, is of great importance
when we come to the final showdown in that great controversy between salvation by faith,
symbolized by Godís Sabbath, versus salvation by works, symbolized by manís Sunday, of
which Godís Sabbath and manís Sunday will symbolize respectfully.
God knew that it was impossible for fallen mankind to save himself by His works
[Romans 3:19-20; Galatians 2:16]. But because He is a God of love and did not desire that any
perish, He sent His only begotten Son to redeem mankind and restore that rest which we
were deprived of by the fall [Matthew 11:28; John 3:16-17; Galatians 3:13; 4:4-5; Hebrews 4:3]. At
the cross, manís justification and reconciliation was completed and perfected [John 17:4;
19:31; Hebrews 10:14]. This perfect and finished redemption was realized at the end of the
sixth day just as creation was [Luke 23:54]. Thus, the Sabbath rest was restored and all
who by faith receive the good news of the gospel do enter into Godís rest [Hebrews 4:2-3].
Through the gospel, Godís new covenant, mankind can once again enter that rest of which
the Sabbath is the sign [Exodus 31:13; Ezekiel 20:12; Isaiah 58:13-14].
In the sermon on the Mount, Christ taught clearly that if we first seek His kingdom
and His righteousness, which is by faith, all our needs will be supplied; that is to say,
the gospel has made for us a way of escape from self-dependence, which is the source of
all our problems, to God-dependence, which is the source of all our joy and happiness.
But one thing is clear, we cannot serve two masters self and God [Matthew 6:24-34]. When
we enter into Godís rest, His day of rest must become our day of rest; this is the outward
sign that we have chosen to live by faith alone. Such motivation of keeping the Sabbath
is true Sabbath keeping.
The Law and the Sabbath
Before we can consider the Sabbath in relationship to the law of God, we must first
be clear about the distinction between the right and the wrong use of the law. God never
gave the law as a means or method of salvation [Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16]. This is the error
the Jews fell into, the error of the Old Covenant, which ended in miserable failure [Romans
9:30-33; Hebrews 8:7-11]. Therefore, anyone who keeps Godís Sabbath in order to be saved, is
repeating the mistake of the Jews and, therefore, perverting the very purpose of the
When we make Sabbath keeping a requirement for salvation, we are not really entering
into Godís rest, which points to a perfect and finished salvation, but have turned His
Sabbath into salvation by works, the very opposite of what the Sabbath was intended for.
And since by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight, such Sabbath
keeping becomes meaningless. How, then, should a Christian, saved by grace through faith
alone keep the Sabbath?
The New Testament, and especially the apostle Paul, clearly teaches that, while God
never gave the law as a method of salvation, He certainly wants Christians to consider
His law as a standard for Christian living [Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:13-14; 1 John 5:1-3; 2
John 6]. In fact, when the law was first given to the Jews at Mt. Sinai, it was for this
very purpose. The preamble to the law clearly indicates this: ďI am the Lord thy God,
which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondageĒ [Exodus 20:2].
God first redeemed Israel and then gave them the law. Moses especially applied this
principal to Sabbath keeping [Deuteronomy 5:15].
Jesus made it very clear that the true motivation for keeping His law was love
[Matthew 22:36-40; John 14:15]. This was also clearly taught in the Old Testament
[Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18]. Any law keeping, therefore, that is motivated by either fear of punishment or
desire for reward belongs to paganism. But this love, that is the fulfillment of the law,
we must be clear, is something sinful man cannot generate; for it is agape, the
love that seeketh not its own (see Chapter 2 for a detailed study
However, Godís agape love is the supreme gift of the Holy Spirit to the
believer [1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13]. And since there is no self in agape, God does
not pour this agape love into the Christian in order that it may return back
to Him (that would make God eros or self-centered). Rather, this love is given
that it may be shed abroad towards our fellowmen, as evidence of the saving power of the
gospel over self [John 13:34-35; Romans 5:5; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15]. This is what it means to have
the law written on our hearts, the promise God made in the New Covenant [Hebrews 8:10].
This leads us to a very important consideration regarding the law as a standard of
Christian living. You will notice, in examining Godís moral law, that the first four
commandments have to do with our relationship with God, while the last six with our
neighbor. Since agape seeketh not her own [1 Corinthians 13:5]; how does one obey the
first four commands through Godís gift of agape without making God self-centered!
It has already been pointed out that God does not pour His gift of agape into
the believer in order that it may return back to Him, but that it may go out towards
our neighbors. In view of this, the only way we can obey the first four commandments is
In 1 John 3:23 we read: ďAnd this is his commandment, That we should believe on the
name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.Ē Genuine
faith is synonymous with obeying the first four commandments; this, in turn, results in
the new birth experience and with this experience comes the gift of agape. The
result is love for our neighbor, which is synonymous with keeping the last six
commandments [Romans 14:10].
The reason why the New Testament has very little to say about Christians obeying the
first four commandments is because all that God wants from us, in regards to our relationship
with Him, is faith [John 6:28-29; Hebrews 11:6], faith that is motivated by a heart appreciation
for His supreme love gift, Jesus Christ [Galatians 5:6]. In view of this, the only acceptable way
one can truly keep the fourth commandment, the Sabbath, is by a faith obedience or entering
by faith into Godís rest. Hence the Sabbath, in this context, becomes the seal of righteousness
by faith. With this clear insight, we can now turn to the end-time conflict between Sabbath
The Sabbath-Sunday Controversy
Whenever the issue of the Sabbath-Sunday is brought into focus, oneís attention
is immediately turned to the Sunday keeping Christians versus the Sabbath keepers.
This, I believe, is not the real issue. There are today many sincere Christians who
are fully resting in Christ for salvation but are Sunday keepers. They are keeping
the wrong day for the right reason. Likewise, there are many sincere Sabbath keepers
who believe their Sabbath keeping will save them. They are keeping the right day for
the wrong reason. Both need correction and this the Holy Spirit, who is to lead us
into all truth, will do.
When this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness
unto all nations [Matthew 24:14]; it will polarize or divide the human race into only
two camps believers and unbelievers [1 John 5:19], those who are fully resting in
Christ and those who have ultimately rejected Christ. All who come under the banner
of Christ will in the end-time worship the Lord of the Sabbath and their Sabbath keeping
will be the outward sign or seal of the righteousness they have already received by faith,
just as circumcision was to Abraham ďa seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had
yet being uncircumcisedĒ [Romans 4:11].
Those who have deliberately and ultimately turned their backs to the free gift of
salvation in Christ will all worship the dragon which gave power unto the beast [Revelation
13:3-4]. These will exalt Sunday as manís day of rest in defiance of the Sabbath, Godís
rest day. The issue then in the final conflict will not be between two groups of
Christians or even two rest days, but two opposing methods of salvation: the Sabbath,
signifying salvation by faith alone, versus Sunday, signifying salvation by works or
When man turned from God-dependence, at the fall, and consequently had to eat his
bread by the sweat of his brow [Genesis 3:19], a human rest day became necessary. Today,
Sunday is that international day of rest, established by the world under Satan. Since
man was also created a spiritual being, his departure from God-dependence to
self-dependence also meant a departure from God-worship to subtle forms of self-worship
[Romans 1:21-23; Isaiah 53:6; Philippians 2:21].
This spiritual departure led man from righteousness by faith to righteousness by
works [self-righteousness Genesis 3:7; 11:4-9]. The New Testament describes this as the
religion of Babylon based on the claims of Nebuchadnezzar, the great king of ancient
Babylon [Daniel 4:30,31; Revelation 14:6-11]. [It must be noted here that the word Babylon
derived its name from the ill-fated tower of Babel, meaning Gate (Bab) of God (el),
symbolizing man trying to reach heaven by works.] The fundamental issue is all of scripture
is salvation by faith versus salvation by works. At the heart of the Bible message is
salvation by grace made effective through faith alone [Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16;
Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews 10:38-39; 11:1-40]. At the heart of every false religion is
salvation by works.
In ancient times, Sunday not only became manís day of rest from physical and mental
work but, above all, symbolized manís spiritual day of rest and worship based on the pagan
belief that the sun was the god of gods. This became prominent in Christís day in the
Roman Empire. Hence, at its very foundation, Sunday rest is a pagan institution representing
self-righteousness; this is in complete contradiction to Godís Sabbath, His sign to man of
righteousness by faith [Exodus 31:13, 16; Hebrews 10:14]. These two opposing concepts of salvation
can never be reconciled and have been in conflict ever since the fall.
When the true gospel of righteousness by faith will be fully recovered and preached
into all the world, every person will have to make the choice, either for or against
Christ [Deuteronomy 30:19,20; Joshua 24:13-15; Romans 9:30-33; Philippians 3:3-9]. At that time, the
Sabbath will become the seal of God, representing righteousness by faith. In contrast,
Sunday will represent the Mark of the Beast, signifying manís rejection of Godís saving
grace in Christ [Revelation 14:10-11]. Therefore, when the Sunday (blue) law will be legally
established, it will indicate the worldís deliberate and ultimate rejection of Godís
loving offer of salvation through His Son.
This is the ďabomination of desolationĒ Christ spoke about [Matthew 24:14-22]. Those
who will then insist on Sunday rest, in willful opposition to Godís Sabbath rest, will
receive the plagues, the wrath of God poured out without mixture [Revelation 14:9-11]. In
contrast, those who will stubbornly keep the Seventh-day Sabbath will be manifesting a
faith in God that is unshakeable. They will go through the great time of trouble and
wash their robes white in the blood of the Lamb.
Because of the mixed, confused ideas of salvation, the true controversy between
Godís Sabbath and manís Sunday is today still foggy and not clearly understood. But when
the two opposing methods of salvation come into clear focus, then the true importance of
the Sabbath will be seen clearly. May God give us, at that time, the grace and courage
to stand for truth.