What Day is the Sabbath?

Good morning,
My name is Gregg and I live in Texas. I have to put my questions on paper rather quickly because my short-term memory is very bad. I have learned to accept this diagnosis, but I do realize my time is limited and I would like to ask my questions before I lose the ability to do so.

I follow Pastor Guzik on my phone using YouTube and Spotify for your daily podcasts. He and Enduring Word have truly been a blessing in my life.

My question is… What day do you consider the Sabbath to be? Just today I saw that the Catholics changed it to Sunday by decree. I don’t want to continue my practice of observing Sunday as Sabbath if that is the case. So I ask what is the actual day for the Sabbath that I should be observing?

Thank you again for the amazing work you all are doing.  I am praying for this ministry daily.

So, What Day is the Sabbath?

To answer most directly, the Sabbath is Saturday – the Seventh Day.

Exodus 20:8-11: The fourth commandment: Remember the Sabbath day.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

  1. [8] Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: The command is to respect the seventh day (Saturday) as a day of rest ([10] you shall do no work). This rest was for all of Israel – for the [10] son and the servant and the stranger – even including cattle.

It was remarkable in the ancient world to have a day without work. It was said there were three amazing things that an ancient visitor to Israel would find: a sea without fish, a temple without a god, and day without work.

It is remarkable that this included all, including the [10] son and the servant and the stranger.

  1. To keep it holy: God commanded Israel – and all humanity – to make sure that there was sacred time in their life,separated time of rest.
  2. In their traditions, the Jewish people came to carefully quantify what they thought could and could not be done on the Sabbath day, in order to keep it holy.
  3. Ancient Rabbis taught that on the Sabbath, a man could not carry something in his right hand or in his left hand, across his chest or on his shoulder. But he could carry something with the back of his hand, his foot, his elbow, or in his ear, his hair, or in the hem of his shirt, or in his shoe or sandal. Or on the Sabbath Israelites were forbidden to tie a knot – except, a woman could tie a knot in her girdle. So, if a bucket of water had to be raised from a well, an Israelite could not tie a rope to the bucket, but a woman could tie her girdle to the bucket and pull it up from the well.

iii. In observant Jewish homes today, one cannot turn on a light, a stove, or a switch on the Sabbath. It is forbidden to drive a certain distance or to make a telephone call – all carefully regulated by traditions seeking to spell out the law exactly.

  1. Jesus often challenged the man-made interpretation and impositions upon the Sabbath. It seems that Jesus looked for ways to break Sabbath traditions, while never breaking God’s command of the Sabbath.
  2. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth: God established the pattern for the Sabbath at the time of creation. When He rested from His works on the seventh day, God made the seventh day a day of rest from all our works (Genesis 2:3). It’s as if God said, having too much to do isn’t an excuse from taking the rest you need – I created the universe and found time to rest from My work.
  3. When God told them to remember the Sabbath, He told them to remember the rest. “The term ‘Sabbath’ is derived from the Hebrew verb ‘to rest or cease from work.’” (Kaiser) The most important purpose of the Sabbath was to serve as a preview picture of the rest we have in Jesus.
  4. Like everything in the Bible, we understand this with the perspective of the whole Bible, not this single passage. With this understanding, we see that there is a real sense in which Jesus fulfilled the purpose and plan of the Sabbath for us and in us (Hebrews 4:9-11) – He is our rest, when we remember His finished work we remember the Sabbath, we remember the rest.

iii. Therefore, the whole of Scripture makes it clear that under the New Covenant, no one is under obligation to observe a Sabbath day (Colossians 2:16-17 and Galatians 4:9-11). Galatians 4:10 tells us that Christians are not bound to observe days and months and seasons and years. The rest we enter into as Christians is something to experience every day, not just one day a week – the rest of knowing we don’t have to work to save ourselves, but our salvation is accomplished in Jesus (Hebrews 4:9-10).

  1. The Sabbath commanded here and observed by Israel was a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ (Colossians 2:16-17). In the New Covenant the idea isn’t that there is no Sabbath, but that every day is a day of Sabbath rest in the finished work of God. Since the shadow of the Sabbath is fulfilled in Jesus, we are free to keep any particular day – or no day – as a Sabbath after the custom of ancient Israel.
  2. Yet we dare not ignore the importance of a day of rest – God has built us so that we need one. Like a car that needs regular maintenance, we need regular rest – or we will not wear well. Some people are like high mileage cars that haven’t been maintained well, and it shows.
  3. Some Christians are also dogmatic about observing Saturday as the Sabbath as opposed to Sunday. But because we are free to regard all days as given by God, it makes no difference. But in some ways, Sunday is more appropriate; being the day Jesus rose from the dead (Mark 16:9), and first met with His disciples (John 20:19) and met with them again on the following Sunday (John 20:26). Sunday was a day when Christians gathered for fellowship (Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2).

Under Law, men worked towards God’s rest; but after Jesus’ finished work on the cross, the believer enters into rest and goes from that rest out to work.

So, what day is the Sabbath?

  • The Sabbath is the seventh day.
  • The Sabbath is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and He is our rest.
  • We are free to recognize any day of the week as a day of rest. We have the liberty to choose Saturday, Sunday, or whatever – because we are free in Jesus and every day is holy unto Him.
  • The earliest Christians gathered on Sunday, and set the first day of the week aside as a day of worship. This isn’t commanded – but it is a pattern we see in the gospels, in Acts, and the New Testament letters.

Should a new believer be baptized as an adult, even if they were baptized as a baby?

I got baptized as a baby, but I got saved just last year at 41. Do I need to be baptized again? I’d love to, but I don’t know when and where yet.

Yes, you should be baptized as an adult, as someone who has made a credible profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Methodists, Anglicans, and many Reformed brethren believe in baby baptism and christening.

Brothers and sisters, I believe that infant baptism (pedobaptism) is an unbiblical practice. Different Christian traditions justify it for different reasons, but I’ve dug into it deeply, and I don’t think they are valid reasons. Therefore, to anyone who was baptized as a baby, I would recommend that when you come to faith in Jesus Christ, you should seek to be baptized. You should be baptized as a believer because, as meaningful as your baptism was for your parents and your family when it happened, you were not baptized as a believer. You had not yet put your faith in Jesus Christ. So yes, I would strongly recommend that you be baptized as a believer.

Before the ultimate resurrection, does only a believer’s spirit go to Heaven?

If a believer dies and goes to heaven before the resurrection, will they be spirit only in heaven until we are all resurrected together?

Maybe. We don’t have enough biblical evidence to give a firm answer to that question. We do know that at least our spirit to goes to be with the Lord, because we have that great promise that, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” Whether we are present with the Lord, with some kind of temporary body, or whether we are present with the Lord merely as spirits awaiting our resurrection body, we don’t know for sure. The Scriptures don’t tell us.

I’ll give you another possible solution to this idea. It may very well be that the problem really resides in how time connects with eternity. We understand that there’s a difference between time and eternity, that Heaven doesn’t keep time the same way we do on earth. For us, the Day of Resurrection is still off in the future. We understand that. But maybe when we die and enter the eternal realm, maybe the Day of Resurrection is right now. Maybe everything just “fast-forwards” to that day. I don’t know; nobody really knows. I can’t give you a firm answer because the Bible just doesn’t tell us. But we know that we do go to be with the Lord. Whether or not the bodily resurrection happens immediately or waits for later, or it happens immediately, we just can’t tell for sure.

What was the purpose of Samson having great physical strength? Is there any type of archeological evidence of Samson as a historical person?

God’s purpose in giving Samson physical strength was that he would smite the Philistines, to win deliverance militarily for Israel against them. Samson was not at all a spiritual leader. He was somebody who God endowed with unique strength to be sort of like a one-man army.

God raised up other deliverers in the days of the judges, but they led groups of other people. Samson was unique. God gave him unique physical strength, and he was a one-man army. There was never anybody like Samson, before him or after him.

God raised up Samson to help the tribes of Israel not be conquered and overwhelmed by the Philistines, so that, according to God’s promise, they could exist as a coherent people until the time of Jesus the Messiah. Let’s never forget that if the people of Israel had perished before Jesus the Messiah came, there would be a real sense in which God’s plan was thwarted and set aside. So, God went through extraordinary and sometimes miraculous measures to keep the people of Israel alive and existing as a people.

I do not believe there is any archaeological evidence for Samson as a historical person. I think the earliest archaeological evidence for specific persons in the Bible goes back to the time of David. I don’t think we have archaeological evidence of specific persons before the time of David. That isn’t surprising at all, if you think of how little would survive for all those thousands of years.

If the Holy Spirit dwells within all believers, then why do people interpret the Bible differently?

Good question. It’s true, we all have the Holy Spirit within us. But we don’t have all of the Holy Spirit that there is to have, so to speak. And more importantly, the Holy Spirit doesn’t have all of us.

In Heaven, we’re all going to interpret the Bible the same way. In Heaven, our eyes will be completely opened. In Heaven, there will be no more questions to this effect. That will belong to the realm of Heaven.

But in the here and now, we’re not perfect. We do the best we can. As a Bible interpreter and commentary, I do the best I can, but I know that I’m still learning and growing. I know that doubtless there are certain places where I get it wrong, although not consciously. If I was aware of any place in my Biblical understanding where I was wrong, I would change it.

So really, it’s that simple. We are not yet perfected in our body, or soul or spirit. We certainly have the Holy Spirit, but He does not have all of us. We are not completely or perfectly yielded, and we still have to deal with the world, the flesh and the devil. But in Heaven, we’re all going to interpret the Bible just the same: perfectly and correctly.

Do believers need to receive the Holy Spirit a second time, after putting their faith in Jesus?

Do we have to receive the Holy Spirit a second time after receiving Jesus as our Savior, in order to be filled with Him? And if so, how can we receive it?

I want to be clear that when anybody puts their faith in Jesus Christ, when they surrender their life to Jesus Christ, they have the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures say that “if anyone does not have the Spirit of God, he doesn’t belong to Hm.” When a person is born again, they have the Holy Spirit.

But I don’t think the filling of the Holy Spirit is effectually finished at one time. We have the continual opportunity to be filled with the Spirit, to walk in the Spirit, to be constantly being filled with the Spirit, as it says in Ephesians 5.

I don’t believe that God intended the giving and bestowal and filling of the Holy Spirit to be a one-and-done event. I think that in God’s heart and mind, it was to be something that would happen often and continually.

In the Christian tradition, sometimes this has been spoken of as a “second blessing,” or a significant secondary experience that somebody might have with the Holy Spirit. Because I believe in an ongoing experience with the Holy Spirit, of course, I believe in a second experience with the Holy Spirit, and an infinite number of experiences beyond that. That doesn’t in any way deny what we receive from the Holy Spirit when we’re born again; rather, it flows from it.

Did the Magi visit Jesus in Bethlehem before or after His presentation at the Temple?

Did the Magi visit Jesus in Bethlehem before or after his presentation in the temple? Luke 2:39 says that the family returned to Nazareth. Where does Matthew fit into Luke’s chronology?

The presentation of Jesus at the Temple happened only eight days after the birth of Jesus. That was the day appointed in the Law of Moses for that to happen. Because Jesus was someone who perfectly fulfilled the law Moses, He obviously did it on the correct day. Therefore, I believe that the visit of the Magi would have been after Jesus was presented in the Temple as described in the Gospel of Luke.

Why then does it say in Luke 2:39 that the family returned to Nazareth? For whatever reason, Luke decided to skip over the flight of the family to Egypt. They certainly did return to Nazareth, eventually, but Luke just didn’t include that part of the story. Sometimes we twist ourselves in knots when we’re comparing the Gospels, asking why one Gospel doesn’t include something that the other Gospel does. But this is just a characteristic of the four Gospels.

God gave us a perfectly inspired fourfold account of the life of Jesus. We can speculate about reasons, perhaps, but we don’t really know for sure why each Gospel will include some things and exclude others. Luke obviously passes over the flight to Egypt which is described in the Gospel of Matthew. You could also ask, why doesn’t Luke mention the visit of the Magi? Again, the answer is that we just don’t know. Ultimately, it was because of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. But on a human level, we can’t really say why; it could have been for any number of reasons.

Is it biblical to pray to the Holy Spirit, or should we primarily pray to the Father?

I’m interested in the exact wording that you use for your question. You asked, “Is it biblical to pray to the Holy Spirit? Or should we primarily pray to the Father?”

Primarily, we should pray to the Father. This is the primary pattern of prayer that’s given to us in the Scriptures. We pray to God the Father, by the mediation of the Son. Jesus is the one who gives us access to God the Father, through the inspiration and the empowering of God the Holy Spirit. That’s the primary pattern for prayer.

Nevertheless, let’s not forget, the Holy Spirit is God. It is not dishonoring to the Godhead to pray to the Holy Spirit. Of course, it’s not the primary pattern of prayer. If somebody was in the habit of only praying to the Holy Spirit, and not praying to God the Father, we would regard that as strange.

We see very plainly that the primary pattern for prayer is to pray to God the Father, through the mediation of God the Son, in the power and the empowering of God the Holy Spirit. But again, since the Holy Spirit truly is God, we are not forbidden from praying to the Holy Spirit or worshiping the Holy Spirit. It’s just a matter of proportion, to consider what’s primary and what’s secondary.

Are catechism and confirmation classes good?

I’m part of the student ministry at my church and we use the Heidelberg Catechism teach confirmation classes. What are your thoughts about the catechism and confirmation in general?

The Heidelberg Catechism is good. Obviously, it’s Reformed in its doctrine. While I am not Reformed in my doctrine, I don’t consider myself anti-Reformed. There are certainly places where I disagree, and maybe even strongly disagree, with Reformed theology. But these are my brothers and sisters in Christ. I’m not on a crusade against Reformed theology. I think it’s good that you guys are going over the Heidelberg Catechism. It’s a good way to learn theology.

Now, concerning the format of a catechism, which includes memorizing questions and hopefully biblical responses to those questions, I might have some disagreement at certain points of time, but if it works well, that’s great. This isn’t a biblically commanded form of teaching or training. But it’s certainly not commanded against. So, I think we can be pragmatic when it comes to these things. Does it work? Is it an effective way to teach Christians the basics of biblical doctrine and theology?

Catechisms are forms of Christian education that have been used for centuries, going back to early church times, to teach the people of God. They have a rich legacy. Whether or not they’re helpful and useful in our modern day, I leave it up to individuals to understand that.

Next, let’s address the whole idea of confirmation. Confirmation is essentially based on the premise of infant baptism. The churches that teach infant baptism tend to be the same ones that have confirmation. They realize, “We baptized this person, but they may or may not be a true believer at all.” What do you do with that? Well, you seek to bring them into the faith, to educate them and confirm them in the faith, through the process of confirmation. A good confirmation class can be great. It can be a great path to discipleship. It may take some of those young people who were baptized as babies and bring them to a real, living faith in Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord for that. But these are forms and systems. We can merely evaluate them and ask whether they work well for the purposes of what we’re doing or not.

Did those raised from the dead in Matthew 27:52 get a glorified body?

Matthew 27:52-53 – And the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went to the holy city and appeared to many.

This is one of the strangest verses in the New Testament. The Scriptures do not tell us whether these people died again or not. That’s how you would measure it. One of the great differences about a resurrection body, compared to our present body, is that a resurrection body will never die. So, did somebody receive a body in which they never died again? The Bible does not tell us. We are given only these mysterious and cryptic verses in Matthew chapter 27, telling us that when Jesus died on the cross, amazing things happened. There was sort of a tearing of the continuum between time and space, and so much so that even some people were at the very least resuscitated. Were they resurrected with the resurrection body? We don’t really know. But they were resuscitated. Maybe they were resuscitated and died again a few days later. Maybe they were resurrected and then just gathered to the Lord in Heaven. We don’t exactly know. We can’t really say.

We need to be careful that we don’t speak where the Scriptures are silent. It’s not wrong for us to think about it or to ask the questions or speculate a bit. But when we do so, it’s good to note that where the Scriptures don’t specifically tell us, we can’t give an absolute answer. We just do the best we can with it. In this case, we don’t exactly know, so it could have been either way.

Is the “rest” spoken of in Hebrews 4:9-11 physical or spiritual?

Does the rest spoken of in Hebrews 4:9-11 refer to something more than physical rest? Can it also refer to the believer’s rest from his or her former works of the flesh in the old nature?

Hebrews 4:9-10 – There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.

Absolutely. That’s the whole point of that passage in Hebrews 4. The author is speaking of “works” in the sense of what we would do to justify ourselves or to earn our way before God. In fact, I would say that the primary sense here is a spiritual rest. That’s really what it’s talking about: the rest which we have from our unceasing efforts to try to find approval and acceptance with God. Jesus Christ has provided this rest in who He is, and what He did for us, especially what He did at the cross and in His resurrection. It’s just that simple.

So not only does Hebrews 4:9-10 include the idea of spiritual rest, I would say that it primarily deals with the idea of spiritual rest. The physical rest of the Sabbath was and continues to be good for the human body and human soul to have one day of rest out of seven. But most pointedly it looked forward to the real rest, the Sabbath rest, which we would have in the finished work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. That is one reason why Christians are not under obligation to keep the Sabbath after the same pattern as the Jewish people under the Old Covenant.

What is the “mystery” Paul spoke about Ephesians?

The mystery Paul speaks about in Ephesians involves at least a couple things.

First, it refers to the fact that God would bring together Jews and Gentiles in one new body. Though the Old Testament does not say so, it would be easy to suppose when reading the Old Testament that salvation coming to the Gentiles would happen by them all becoming Jews. But we find a mystery in the New Covenant. Biblically, a mystery was something that wasn’t known until God revealed it in apostolic times. This mystery of God’s will was not to just fold all the Gentiles into Judaism, but rather to make a new people, a people who were not fundamentally Jewish or Gentile, but who were fundamentally Christians. That’s one aspect of the mystery.

Another aspect of the mystery is that God has an eternal purpose. Ephesians 3:10-11 tells us that God has an eternal purpose: to teach wisdom to angelic beings in and through the church. Isn’t that remarkable? God is displaying His manifold, many-faceted wisdom to angelic beings. Ephesians 3 refers to them as “principalities and powers,” which is the New Testament terminology for angelic beings. It’s wonderful to see that this is part of God’s great purpose. There may be other aspects to the mystery, but it entails at least those two.

At the Transfiguration, how did Peter, James, and John know who Moses and Elijah were?

What a great question. Moses and Elijah certainly didn’t have name tags, and photographs weren’t yet invented. How did they know they were looking at Moses and Elijah?

I think the best answer is that they just knew. I don’t know if I could strictly say that Moses and Elijah had resurrection bodies, because Jesus was the first fruits of the Resurrection, and that hadn’t happened yet. Maybe they had bodily image or form.

In the eternal, we’re just going to know each other. In Heaven, when we’re gathered with God’s people throughout all generations, we’re just going to know who we are. We’re never going to forget a name in Heaven. Won’t that make it Heaven right there? We’re going to know. I think this is just part of some of the perfection of Heaven. Who I am will radiate out of me, and people know who I am, and who you are will radiate out of you, and we will know, perfectly. I think this is just reflective of God’s people in the world beyond. We will know.

Another example of this is in the story Jesus told about the rich man and Lazarus. They’re gathered together in Hades, which isn’t Heaven, but it is the world beyond. They seem to know who Abraham is. I think this is just something that’s known.

It reminds me of a story that I once heard about Charles Spurgeon. One day, a lady came up to Charles Spurgeon, and asked, “Spurgeon, are we going to know each other in Heaven?” And Spurgeon replied, “My dear lady, you’re not going to be more stupid in Heaven than you are on Earth.” I think that’s pretty good answer. I think this is something that belongs to the world beyond.

Is it biblical to expect every believer to have a private heavenly language to speak directly to God?

I believe in the validity of the gift of tongues for today. I believe it’s a gift that God gives to many, but certainly not to all. And the purpose of the gift of tongues is for somebody to communicate with God, either praise, prayer, or intercession, on a level which transcends their intellect. Honestly, there are some people who don’t really sense any need for that. They don’t desire it and feel fine with their own ability. In that sense, those people don’t need the gift of tongues. But if someone does feel a need for it, then they should seek God to give them this gift.

Therefore, I don’t think it’s biblical to expect every believer to have that gift. In 1 Corinthians, Paul very specifically asks a rhetorical question, where the anticipated answer is no. He asks, “Do all speak in tongues?” And he says, “No.” And he’s talking about believers. So no, it’s not reasonable think that God intends the gift of tongues to be for every believer.