We who are in Christ do keep the Sabbath, but the Sabbath for us is not a day of the week. It is certainly not a day for attending religious services. It has nothing to do with the calendar. If we want to keep the Sabbath we need only abide, continue, and dwell in Christ, as the branch abides, continues, and dwells in the Vine. For the branch is resting in the Vine. The branch does not struggle or worry or force itself through sheer effort to produce fruit. Instead, it simply lives in union with the Vine, and in that sense, it rests. It trusts in the Life of the Vine to produce the fruit. And this is the principle of the Sabbath rest.
Now we see this rest in Christ. You would suppose that, as the Son of God, He had the liberty and freedom to say and do whatever He pleased. But He frankly stated, “I do nothing of Myself. It is the Father that dwells in Me, and He does the works.” This, my friend, is rest. He is the Lord of the Sabbath. Jesus mastered the art of observing the Sabbath day. What does it mean? It means I do nothing of Myself. My teaching is not My own, but it belongs to the One Who sent Me. And I do nothing except what I see my Father do, and I speak nothing except what I hear my Father speak. That is extraordinary. But that is what it means to rest in the Lord.
Now our relationship to Christ is to be exactly the same as Christ’s relationship to the Father. I do nothing apart from Christ. I speak nothing apart from Christ. And I do nothing and speak nothing in my own strength, but I trust in the life of the Lord Jesus to do in me and through me what I cannot do.
Or, if you like, it is the place Paul describes in Galatians 2:20: “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.” Not I, but Christ. This is the secret to the Christian life. And may I say that this: “not I, but Christ” is the normal Christian life. It is the way it is supposed to be, from the very beginning.
Remember that Adam’s first day of life, after he was created, was a day of rest. Now the Christian life begins the same way. If any one is in Christ, the Bible says that he or she is a new creation. You are born-again; you are born from above. And the first lesson you learn in this spiritual life in Christ is not doing, but being; it is not working, but resting.
How disappointing that the harlot church – the religious system – does not teach you how to enter into rest. It wants to immediately put you to work. And so you wear yourself out, trying to be holy, trying to be more like Christ, trying to please people – the pastor, the elders, your fellow church members. And you sometimes feel as if you can never do enough. You can never give enough, you can never volunteer enough, you can never attend enough. And my, the guilt you feel whenever you say no, or whenever you feel as if you aren’t doing enough!
Your first day in Christ is a day of rest. Now let’s not get tied down to a calendar. That first “day” in Christ may take weeks or years. We are after the spiritual principle of the Sabbath day, and we are not talking about a twenty-four hour period. This is something you learn and you walk in the rest of your life. How unfortunate that people do not begin with resting in Christ. They get saved, and they go to work for religion, and they are like a slave living in Egypt instead of a Hebrew living in the land of milk and honey. Then after so many years of slavery they become institutionalized, and think this is the way the Christian life is supposed to be.
Well, it is that way for many people, but it does not have to be that way. Your first day in Christ is a day of rest. Works will come. But your first day as a new creature in Christ is a day of rest. It will be a day of rest until you learn what it means to abide in Christ, to dwell in Him, to rest in His finished work. That is the basis of everything else. If the word “season” helps you to understand this better than a “day” then think of it as a Sabbath season. But the first lesson is how to rest. That is the principle of the Sabbath.
I hope you are beginning to see how far and beyond this goes. From this perspective you see how silly it is to get all worked up into a lather over Sunday or Saturday, Sabbath day or Lord’s day, what you can do and what you can’t do. Those are arguments for little children. Let us go on to maturity. Let us put away childish things and become men and women of spiritual wisdom and discernment. God is after a spiritual condition, a spiritual result, and to get it He goes to work deep within your heart. That is the basis of the New Covenant.
— If you liked this message, check out the complete audio series:
The Lord of the Sabbath