My Journey to the Sabbath

My Journey to the Sabbath

Apr 23, 2014

My Journey to the Sabbath

by David Johnson


       David Johnson is pastor of Sabbath Chapel in Flowery Branch, Georgia, a branch church of the Metro Atlanta Seventh Day Baptist Church. A retired teacher, coach, and former pastor of a Southern Baptist Church, Pastor David became a Seventh Day Baptist when he joined the Metro Atlanta church in 2010.

       In February of 2014 he was ordained as a Seventh Day Baptist minister during a ceremony held in Flowery Branch, Georgia. The following is his story of how he came to a Sabbath conviction. –Jeff Hargett, Co-chair, SR Committee


While at seminary, I learned to study the Bible with an open mind and listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit. One of my assignments in second semester Greek class was to translate Matthew 5:17-19. As I meditated on each Greek word and searched for the best English equivalent, the Holy Spirit convicted me of the need to keep the Sabbath holy.


The Bible states that Jesus said, “‘Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 5:17-19).

     After reading these verses, I realized that Jesus said nothing would pass from the Law until all was fulfilled, and all has not been fulfilled yet. Therefore, I went to the Ten Commandments to get the correct understanding of at least that portion of the Law. To my surprise I realized that I was not even trying to keep the fourth commandment.


       “‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.Six days you shall labor and do all your work,but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work… For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy’” (Exodus 20:8-11).

     The one commandment that stated “Remember,” I had forgotten! God made the seventh day holy and commanded us to keep it holy.

Before the Law was given, God taught His people to keep the Sabbath holy by how the manna was given to them. “‘Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none’” (Exodus 16:26).When the Law was given, God’s chosen people were already keeping the Sabbath by not having any manna to collect on the Sabbath.


0514 Journey mtn CLR


Since I had been taught all my life to keep the first day of the week holy, I searched the New Testament to see where the switch was made from seventh to first. To my astonishment, there was no command found to make the switch, or evidence in the Bible that the switch was made by the early Church.

The Bible supports the fact that Jesus kept the Sabbath holy. And He was saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath’ ” (Luke 6:5). “And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read” (Luke 4:16). Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath and it was His custom to keep the Sabbath holy.


The New Testament makes a clear connection between Sabbath-keeping and the Law. To what law was Jesus referring when He said, “it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:12b)? What commandment were the women obeying after Jesus’ crucifixion when “on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56b)?

The evidence supports the conclusion that believers in Jesus Christ were keeping the fourth Commandment at the time of His crucifixion. Obviously, the fourth Commandment was not annulled in the Gospels, but what about in the book of Acts?

Further evidence of Sabbath-keeping is found throughout Acts. As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people kept begging that these things might be spoken to them the next Sabbath” (Acts 13:42). “The next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of the Lord” (Acts 13:44). “And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled” (Acts 16:13).

     Maybe each of these services was purely Jewish and Jesus was not mentioned. And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ’” (Acts 17:2-3).In this passage it is clear that Jesus was proclaimed on the Sabbath during regularly scheduled worship services.


The next Scripture identifies who was present to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached on the Sabbath. And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks” (Acts 18:4).So far the evidence is overwhelming in favor of keeping the Sabbath holy on the seventh day of the week.

There is no evidence that the first day of the week is called the Sabbath in the Bible; however, there is a mention of a meeting taking place on the first day. On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight” (Acts 20:7).

     This verse is often used as proof of the first day being the regular meeting time for the New Testament church to worship, but the Bible clearly states that the purpose of the meeting was to break bread. Breaking bread is defined in Acts 2:46as“…breaking bread from house to house they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.” Since there are two elements to the Lord’s Supper it could not mean Lord’s Supper.

Paul talked until morning, but where was the singing and reading of Scripture which is present in scheduled worship services? The Bible states how the meeting ended. When he had gone back up and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while until daybreak, and then left” (Acts 20:11).This was a fellowship meal after the Sabbath had concluded and Paul spoke into the night.


The Epistles continue to promote keeping the Sabbath. Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17).This Scripture is used against Sabbath-keeping, but that was not the intent. The word “mere” was added to this translation but was not in the Greek manuscripts. What this passage does is name the days set aside for worship. The Sabbath was mentioned but the Lord’s day was not, nor was the first day of the week.

This Scripture states that no one is to be your judge in regard to how you worship on the days mentioned. Our Sabbath worship is a shadow of what it will be like when Christ returns.


Paul also wrote, Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also.On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).Since there was only one church in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:2 and 2 Cor. 1:1) “each one of you” could not refer to churches. “Each one of you” refers to individuals in the church who were prospering financially on the first day of the week because it was a workday. They were instructed to set that money aside for the saints in Jerusalem.

The next passages are taken out of the context of eternal rest, but they are also a call to Sabbath worship. For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works’ ” (Hebrews 4:4). “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9).In this chapter of Hebrews the word “rest” refers to eternal rest, but the word “Sabbath” refers to the seventh day of the week which remains a day of rest and worship for the people of God.


Jesus claimed that the religious establishment of His day was following the traditions of men rather than the commands of God. He said to them, “‘Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.’He was also saying to them, ‘You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition’ ” (Mark 7:8-9).

     When I realized that the religious establishment of our day was doing the same thing in regard to the Sabbath, I decided to keep the Sabbath according to the commands of God. Now there is a much better connection between the Old and New Testaments.


“Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright ©1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission.” (

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