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Foundation Truth, Number 4 (Winter 2001) | Timeless Truths Publications

Response to: Think Out of the Box

Dear Mrs. Stace,

Greetings in the name of Jesus, the Joy of man’s desiring, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. How thankful we are to be saved and walking with God!

Thank you so much for taking the time to write. I appreciate the detailed letter of your understanding and convictions about the Sabbath. I deeply appreciate your desire to live right and your carefulness to divide rightly the Word of God.

As far as understanding the Sabbath to be the seventh day of the week and correctly identifying the incorrect characterization of Sunday as the Sabbath, we are both in total agreement.

I do not know, however, if you have given a great deal of thought to the profound differences between the Old Testament salvation experience and the New Testament salvation experience. In carefully reading your letter to us for your understanding of the overall differences between the Old Testament and the New Testament, I find you expressing yourself in these quotes:

Jesus kept the moral law—the ten commandments—perfectly, as no human could. He fulfilled the ceremonial laws because He became what all the types and symbols pointed to.

Jesus, through His death, abolished the Old Testament ceremonial laws, feasts, and sacrifices. These pointed to Him, and He is the fulfillment.

A gentile convert may still have been influenced by special days of festivities connected with his former pagan worship and a Jewish convert may still have felt bound by the Old Testament ceremonial feasts.

From these quotations, I have the impression that you feel that the Old Testament ceremonial laws, feasts, and sacrifices constitute the abolished part of the Mosaic Law system, while other parts of that Mosaic Law system were not abolished. (Since the Old Testament covers more than the Mosaic Law system, involving human history before the covenant with Abraham and during that covenant, I will refer to Mosaic Law—or the law according to Moses—specifically. The Abraham covenant also finds a spiritual fulfillment in the New Testament.)

The key to understanding correctly the entire matter is involved in why the Mosaic Law system was abolished at all. The writer of Hebrews plainly explains the matter in Hebrews 8:5-13. Let us examine this passage of scripture carefully.

“Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.”* (Hebrews 8:5)

We note that the writer is speaking of a covenant showed to thee in the mount. In the seventh verse, he calls it the first covenant.

“But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.”* (Hebrews 8:6)

Here the writer refers to a better covenant, established upon better promises. This better covenant obviously came after the first covenant.

“For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.”* (Hebrews 8:7)

Here the writer plainly tells us that the first covenant, the one showed to thee in the mount, was faulty, therefore a second covenant was sought.

“For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.”* (Hebrews 8:8-9)

This is very plain. The new covenant will be very different from the old covenant.

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”* (Hebrews 8:10-12)

Now, the nature of the fault is identified. What was it that God found inadequate in the first covenant? The tenth verse informs us. The second covenant would “put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts.” As David discovered, in his remorse for his transgression, “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.”* (Psalm 51:6) You will note that David lived under the Mosaic Law, and he did not have the law of God written into his heart in such a way as to keep him from sin. He realized that he would not have failed God in the way that he did if he could have had this kind of experience. But God was not satisfied to simply write His law in commandments in tablets of stone for men to strive to live to; He promised to make a new covenant where His law could be written by His handiwork in the living, fleshly tablets of the hearts of men. “Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.”* (2 Corinthians 3:3) The enormous and profound difference between salvation under the law and salvation under the grace and truth that came by Jesus Christ is given to us in these scriptures. It is the difference between trying to live right with wrong inside of us versus living right with right inside of us. It is the difference between defeat and victory, between failing and overcoming.

“In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.”* (Hebrews 8:13)

“…To finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness.”* (Daniel 9:24) The writer of Hebrews wrote during the transition time between the old covenant and the new. A time when men were beginning to grasp by faith what had been made available to them in the gospel—even the revolutionary change of the heart in the hidden depths, thus producing a holy life in which the sinning had ended and everlasting righteousness begun. So that they could be numbered among those ninety-nine just persons who needed no repentance (Luke 15:7). That they could be like Jesus in heart (1 John 4:17; 1 John 3:3,6-10). All those of the old covenant could not receive this promise, for it was not ready in their time, but “God, having provided some better thing for us….”* (Hebrews 11:40) (Luke 10:23-24). The bottom line of this change in covenants is that God made man holy; He requires him to live holy, and He was not satisfied with an interim covenant which did not make man holy as God required him to be. The first covenant was the best that could be given at the time to serve as a schoolmaster to bring men to Christ, and it restrained sin to an extent by bringing knowledge to man of God’s holiness and hatred of sin. But it was not good enough for what God really wanted—the heart changed to a holy heart, so that the issues of the life would be holy. Therefore he found fault with the first and taketh it away that he may establish the second.

It should be evident that a change of this magnitude in the heart of the one upon whom the work is wrought would be a twenty-four-a-day, seven-day-a-week salvation. For out of the heart are the issues of life, and as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. A holy heart will produce a holy life.

But the Bible deals with the reality of two different kinds of sin in the individual. Sins which are acquired by transgression, which bring spiritual death (separation) between the soul and God, and sins which are not the responsibility of the individual, but are inherited from our forefathers, Adam and Eve. The impurity of inherited depravity (for we all “were by nature the children of wrath”* (Ephesians 2:3)) causes us to go astray from the very time of our conception, although we are not accountable for those wrong things during the early part of our life, as we are innocent and unaware. Therefore, those wrong motives and actions are not imputed at that time. As Paul states, “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.”* (Romans 7:9) He died because he realized that he was wrong, and with that knowledge came condemnation. Furthermore, he could not stop the transgressing, for he had not the power to stop. The Adam image within him had prompted him to do what he began to realize was wrong; but the realization brought no power or strength to help him to live to what he knew, so “that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.”* (Romans 7:15) In all this, he was speaking of his experience under the law, for he states, “for I speak to them that know the law.”* (Romans 7:1) Furthermore, he speaks of his deliverance from the law in these terms, “But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”* (Romans 7:6) Please note that this is in complete accord with the removal of the first covenant—that which was “shewed to thee [Moses] in the mount”* (Hebrews 8:5)—that the better covenant, established upon better promises, might be obtained. Paul, having been delivered from the law, declares that he serves God in newness of spirit. Yea, “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.”* (2 Corinthians 5:17) “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.”* (Galatians 6:15)

The atonement of Christ has the power to purge our hearts of all acquired sin and transgression, and the power to purge the inherited sin nature from our heart. The entire New Testament covenant promises first an experience so profound in its forgiveness and change of heart that it is compared to being born all over again. “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…. He cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”* (John 3:3,5) But the New Testament covenant promises an experience beyond this in the heart. “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.”* (Hebrews 6:1) This is in the infilling of the Holy Spirit and the further purifying of the heart. It is the purging spoken of in John 15:2, “Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” It is an experience for those who are in the vine. It is mentioned as sanctification in the prayer of our Lord for these same disciples, who were saved and bearing fruit—“I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word”* (John 17:6); “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”* (John 17:17) That prayer was answered at the day of Pentecost when they received the Holy Ghost. Brother Peter’s testimony: “And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”* (Acts 15:89) The new covenant offers two distinct experiences to take care of two kinds of needs. “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?”* (Acts 19:2)

This subsequent work to regeneration is entered into through inspired consecration and faith. The Holy Spirit brings a depth of death to self, a ceasing of our own works, and a hallowed consecration for service to God that is all inclusive, thorough, and complete. The Holy Spirit brings us to this—it is far beyond the capacity of man to enter into this rest on his own. We can resist and limit God—and miss the blessing and lose what we have. Or we can allow the Holy Spirit to have His way and take us from the wilderness into this spiritual land of Canaan. “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification.”* (1 Thessalonians 4:3) “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.”* (Hebrews 10:14-20) Here, the second work of grace in the new covenant is compared to entering the Holiest room of the Old Testament tabernacle. The first room, the Holy, would represent the regenerated experience of heart; the second room, the Holiest, here represents the perfecting experience.

The brethren of the New Testament, receiving and witnessing to the superiority of the new covenant in their hearts, were full of exhortations to be reconciled to God, then to go on to perfection. This is their burden in the fourth chapter of Hebrews; There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.* (Hebrews 4:9) The nature of that Sabbath, or rest, in the new covenant is not a literal day. This is plain in the context of the scripture quoted, for the certain day spoken of was not a Saturday. The first day of rest mentioned here is the rest that the Israelites would find in conquering and inhabiting the land of Canaan (Hebrews 4:7). They did not find this rest at the day spoken of because they doubted that God would give them the victory to take the land. Therefore, they entered not in because of unbelief. In a type and shadow sense, they were delivered from bondage at the Red Sea, wandered in the wilderness, and were promised rest in the land of promise (Canaan). But they did not enter into this rest because of their unbelief. If they had entered in (as their descendants did after forty years), then they would have entered into rest of the people of God in the old covenant. This would have been their Sabbath continually all the time, and it would have been like God’s Sabbath. God is still resting from all His work of creation. He started resting on the seventh day, and He is still resting. The work of creation was finished on the end of the sixth day. Nor does He rest every seventh day since from other of His labors. If the Israelites had entered the land of rest (Canaan) and kept the law of God, He would have given them rest about and kept them from their enemies. They would have kept resting as God did from the work of creation. But they did not. However, in the new covenant, “There remaineth… a rest to the people of God.” It is our privilege to enter into this rest of the soul, ceasing from our own works forever and working the works of God instead, forever and ever. Down here in this old world and right on into eternity. Ever to be with the Lord, resting from our own works, and busy with His. How superior is the rest of the new covenant to the rest of the old covenant!

The old Sabbath day was limited to a single day out of the week, and was a rest from physical labor and activity. It could be observed whether your heart was right with God or not, for it was outward and mental. It was not the rest of the soul. But the new rest can only be kept by the pure in heart, those who are all together the Lord’s. Do you doubt there is such an experience? “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”* (Hebrews 4:11) To assist us in entering into that rest, “the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”* (Hebrews 4:12) Furthermore, we have a great High Priest, He who helps us to hold fast our profession, who will also help us to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”* (Hebrews 4:16) It is through these great Administrators of the new covenant that we may find this experience that we may please God and do the works of God.

Let us now consider the holiness of the Mosaic Law Sabbath. “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.”* (Exodus 20:8) Mankind at that time could not live holy from the heart because provision had not been made to regenerate the heart. Forgiveness was a legal justification; legally absolving the soul of guilt before God, but not imparting the power to live a holy life. All such promise, at that time (the time of the Mosaic Law) was in the future, awaiting the coming of the Messiah. The reality of a holy life, proceeding from a holy heart, kept by the power of God, was foreshadowed by the physical rest from one’s own labors on one day out of seven, the Sabbath. In the New Testament sense, no one lived holy any day at all. They sinned every day, including the Sabbath. They did not keep the Sabbath holy in the New Testament sense at all; in fact, they could not. The Old Testament sense in which they did keep the Sabbath day holy was in resting from their manual labor. Now it is certainly not sinful to work; indeed, idleness is condemned in the scriptures (2 Thessalonians 3:10). And it is blessed to be able to rest each night of each day from labor, and this is needful for us while we are in the body, but it is not holiness in the sense of freedom from sin at all. It is temporary freedom from physical labor and blessed to those who labor. “The sleep of a labouring man is sweet.”* (Ecclesiastes 5:12) In requiring the Israelites to cease from their labor on the seventh day (the day of completeness), the Lord was pointing to the perfect rest of soul (not of body) to be made available in the New Testament. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”* (Matthew 11:28) Notice that this rest is every day, twenty-four hours, and seven days a week. The rest (Sabbath) of the soul. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you My Sabbath; ye shall find a Sabbath unto your souls.” To the humble Israelite, laboring throughout the week and resting on the Sabbath, repenting and sacrificing, obtaining forgiveness and falling into sin again and again, the lesson began to emerge: this rest on one day of the week must mean that God has a perfect (seventh) rest for my soul from this failing. Someday, God will do something that will make it possible for men to perfectly enter into rest from taking his own way, from getting out from under the hand of God. The Lord has better for us than this. Yea, ye shall find the Sabbath (rest) unto your souls.

“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.”* (Romans 14:5-6) The point is very plain: each day is of equal significance to the holy in heart. A child of God with a pure heart lives every day unto the Lord. Whether the day is esteemed by him to be specially regarded or not specially regarded, he lives it “unto the Lord.” Sunday is no more special than Monday, or any other day. Saturday is no more special than Sunday, Monday, or any other day. Each day is a holy day unto the Lord. Another day to live for Jesus. Another day to work the works of God. Another day to entirely be devoted to God. Praise His name!

Living before the great throne seven days a week, we have liberty to meet together and worship at any suitable time or place. We are not bound to a certain place or a certain day, but meet anywhere at any time and worship in spirit and truth. Where we meet is then the house of God (Genesis 28:17), and every day is holy unto Him who made and keeps us holy in heart. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”* (Matthew 18:20) This was the freedom enjoyed by the saints of the New Testament. Having found this wondrous salvation by which they were “justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses,”* (Acts 13:39) they were not much concerned with the day on which they worshiped. The Jews yet met on the Sabbath, and they attended their meetings to witness to them and preach the truth (as did our Lord). They were not trying to persuade them to change to another day; they were doing all they could to plead with them the great necessity of being truly regenerated, of being right with God in the ways which had not been previously possible under the Old Testament dispensation of grace. Then these Mosaic Law keepers could live holy every day, as did those who thus testified to them.

Matthew 12:8 is quoted to indicate that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath day. Yes, He is Lord of the Sabbath, of Sunday, of Monday, of Tuesday, of Wednesday, of Thursday, and of Friday. He is Lord of all. The light and the darkness are alike to Him. It does not bother Him that some Saturdays are short and some long as the seasons change. It does not bother Him that an attempt to keep this particular day (or another) would have people on different sides of this planet worshiping at different times, even different days. He set up the particular remembrance of the Sabbath to the Israelite nation for a specific purpose (to point to Christ and the rest of the soul), and at the time He set this up, it did not matter to the Israelite nation that different parts of the world knew day and night at different times. It was—for them—a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ.

“But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”* (Galatians 3:25) We have found the blessed reality, the eternal Sabbath of the soul.

In Jesus I’ve found a sweet rest
From sorrow, from toil, and from care;
In Him I am happy and blest,
For He all my burdens doth bear.

I came to the Lord for release,
When burdened with guilt and with sin;
He cleansed me, and gave me His peace,
The Spirit to witness within.

Though many the troubles I meet,
He’ll keep me, and help me along;
I’ll sit at His glorified feet,
For He is my joy and my song.

All glory and praise to Thy name
For what Thou didst suffer for me;
For saving my soul when I came
And gave myself up unto Thee.


Oh, how happy am I,
With my Savior so nigh!
I have found sweet rest
On Jesus’ dear breast.*