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Friday, March 09, 2001 6:36:59 PM

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An Urgent Appeal to All Sabbathkeepers

Sabbathkeeping is Not Necessary for Salvation

In the July-August, 1998 issue of The Sabbath Sentinel, page 22, Richard Nickels, President of The Bible Sabbath Association made the following comments: "for me, Sabbath-keeping is a requirement for my salvation;" "for me, promoting the Sabbath is a requirement for my salvation;" "unless the Spirit of God is leading you to keep the Sabbath … you may not be counted worthy to be part of the Kingdom of God."

A Serious Misunderstanding of the Gospel

In these statements Mr. Nickels was communicating a serious misunderstanding of the relationship between the Gospel and the Sabbath. In my experience, Mr. Nickels is not alone in equating Sabbathkeeping with salvation, for similar statements and concepts may be found throughout the current publications of Sabbathkeepers. However these statements are not Biblical, and therefore should be excised from the thinking and practice of all Sabbathkeepers.

Pure Legalism

Never does the Bible state that salvation is earned, maintained, or even enhanced by keeping the Sabbath! To assert that Sabbath-keeping equates in any way with salvation is simply contrary to Scripture and is pure legalism. Worse, to suggest that Sabbath-keeping has to do with one being counted worthy to be part of God's kingdom "is to turn to a different gospel … which is no Gospel at all" (see Galatians 1:6-9, NIV).

When Sabbathkeepers emphasize the Sabbath commandment above the others we overlook the fact that even in God's Law it is fourth, not first! Those who insist Sabbath-keeping is a requirement for salvation clearly do not understand Jesus' statement that He came to minister to the lost sheep of Israel -- all of whom were lost Sabbathkeepers (Matthew 15:24). Neither do they understand that it was Christ-less, grace-less, love-less Sabbathkeepers who insisted our Savior be put to death.

Salvation is by Grace Through Faith Alone

Let us all be absolutely clear: our salvation is by God's grace through faith alone, for our salvation "is the gift of God (and) not by works" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Until Sabbathkeepers can follow the Bible by separating Sabbath-keeping from salvation, we will drive saved, grace-filled, Sunday-keeping Christians away from the fourth commandment and away from any meaningful fellowship and dialog with us. Worse yet, we ourselves will forever miss out on the God-given assurance of salvation that comes from a clear understanding of the Gospel!

The Validity of the Sabbath

Let me emphasize that the validity of the Sabbath is found in the Bible record and not in any contrived linkage with salvation. Bible-believing Christians who study the Bible record concerning the day God set apart for rest and worship will quickly discover that substituting the first day of the week for the seventh is merely a human tradition with no Divine authorization. That alone is sufficient reason for Christians to begin enjoying the Sabbath rest out of love for God. Let none of us go beyond the Bible and away from the Gospel in order to attempt a flimsy, human argument for Sabbathkeeping!

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