Sunday, July 25, 2010

Living in Grace

by Keri Wyatt Kent

It’s been said that if we forget the past, we are destined to repeat its mistakes. So I wonder what will happen in a culture focused on the here and now, a culture that proclaims anything not the latest and greatest is “so five minutes ago.”

I do a lot of teaching and writing on the ancient practice of Sabbath, which God told us to observe and remember. It was an important enough directive that it is included in the Ten Commandments. I’ve had people argue with me that because of Jesus, we are set free from the law, so we don’t need to practice Sabbath. While it is true that we are saved by grace and not by keeping the law, that doesn’t necessarily “prove” that Sabbath keeping is irrelevant, any more than salvation by grace demonstrates that any of the other commandments are irrelevant. Even if we are trusting Jesus for redemption, we still believe “don’t lie” and “don’t murder” are good rules to live by, and act accordingly.

We won’t earn God’s favor through rule-keeping, which actually has exciting implications for those who want to practice Sabbath. It sets us free from legalism, and allows us to enter into the heart of Sabbath rest—which is a picture of communion with God. It allows us to experience grace. Sabbath began as a Jewish practice—and the roots of the Christian faith are firmly planted in Judaism. When we understand and appreciate the common past we have with Jewish people, we come to understand our faith, and indeed Jesus, in a new way. We must understand the context of our faith.

There are threads running through Sabbath that give it richer meaning. Just as the children of Israel kept Sabbath as a reminder of their being freed from slavery, we are freed from the slavery of sin. Just as Sabbath flattened social hierarchy, Jesus did as well. The two loaves of bread on the traditional Jewish Shabbat table represent the two portions of manna the Israelites would gather on the day before Sabbath. The practice reminds us of the past. But it also looks ahead. Our communion table, like the Sabbath table, is adorned with bread, candles and wine. The loaves also represent the ultimate sacrifice of the Lord of the Sabbath, who referred to himself as the bread of heaven. It’s also a prophetic picture of our ultimate spiritual rest in heaven, in perfect communion with Jesus.

It’s one thing to see and appreciate the connections between the Old Testament and the New Testament. But when we actually take a day of rest, we live in those connections. We experience physical rest, and it deepens our understanding of spiritual rest. To practice Sabbath is to live in grace.


  1. I too find it interesting that the Sabbath was included in the Ten Commandments. Remembering Jesus' comments concerning the commands it made me think. He said, "You have heard it said...." One time He refered to adultery and He revealed that in Him it had more meaning that just the legality of the actual fact. If a man even looked on a woman with lust in his heart he was guilty already. When He was hanging on the cross and He said, "It is finished.", He was saying, "Mission accomplished." He was showing us a new way. A way that goes well beyond a physical act, but embraces a changed heart. The Word says that the law is a mere shadow of the real thing. That real thing is Jesus Christ, Himself. Jesus is the Sabbath for me. Rather than just physically resting from my work one day a week, I am to rest from my own works all the time by being in Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who died and gave Himself for me. We must not fail to enter His rest. I am convinced that keeping Saturday as a Sabbath or not keeping Saturday as a Sabbath is fine with Him. Let each man be fully persuaded in his own mind.In His Service, Sylvia

  2. Sylvia Croft, I could have written your post myself. I agree with all your thoughts on this subject. I believe I now live in an eternal, perpetual Sabboth rest, in Jesus. One physical day is as another to me. I do attend church services on Sunday since that is when it is scheduled. But it could be scheduled on Tuesdays and that would not disrupt my spiritual beliefs on the matter. I love the freedom that Jesus has brought to me, to worship everyday and freely and as often each day as I like and to rest every minute of every day in Him. In Jesus, Sharon