British Conference of Seventh Day Baptist Churches
A Baptist church that is a little different
As Seventh Day Baptists, we are different from other Baptists in that we choose to “remember” to keep the seventh day Sabbath holy as instructed in Exodus 20:8. In addition, we are different from many other Sabbath-keeping churches in that we approach the Sabbath without the legalism that characterizes these other churches. This is true in two respects: we do not have a detailed set of rules for Sabbath conduct, and we have never viewed Sabbath observance as a means to salvation or a prerequisite for salvation.
Accountability to God
Seventh day Baptists do not tell their members how to keep the Sabbath. We expect individuals and families will take the Scriptural principles of Sabbath observance and make their own application of them to their lives. This is in keeping with our commitment as Baptists to freedom of thought under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and liberty of conscience. We encourage people to study the Scripture, and then depend upon the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts to help them apply the Scripture to the situations and challenges they face as Sabbath-keeping Christians.
This is not to say that pastors may not preach about how to keep the Sabbath, or that local churches may not choose to exercise discipline when obvious Sabbath-breaking occurs, or that the denomination may not review the membership status of churches who cease observing the Sabbath. It is to say that Seventh Day Baptists seek to leave the outworking of a Sabbath commitment in the hands of the individual. It is a matter between the individual and God.
Love is the reason for observing the sabbath
Though we are not saved by observing the Sabbath, we keep the Sabbath because we love the Lord. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Love is the reason we keep the Sabbath holy and obey all of the Ten Commandments. We also keep the Sabbath holy because we believe Jesus when He tells us that “the Sabbath was made for man.” We believe that the Sabbath was given for man’s benefit. The Sabbath truly is a gift of time for our benefit.
Observing the Sabbath out of love
We believe the Sabbath is important to God; and therefore, it ought to be important to all who love God. We also believe that Sabbath-keeping does not contribute anything to anyone’s salvation. No one is saved by keeping any of the Ten Commandments. The Apostle Paul says, “no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law” (Rom. 3:20). It is by God’s grace, through faith in Christ, that people are saved (Eph. 2:8-9). Though no one is saved by observing the Sabbath, Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15, and see v. 21). Chief among Jesus’ commands were the two which summarized the “Law and the Prophets” (the entire OT) as love for God and love for one’s neighbour (Matt. 22:34-40). Love for one’s neighbour “sums up” the last six of the Ten Commandments (Rom. 13:8-10); just as love for God sums up the first four. Therefore, we insist that love for God (and for Jesus) includes keeping the first four Commandments, including the Fourth Commandment to “remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy" (Ex. 20:8).
Our freedom in Christ
It is on the Sabbath that we are set free from work and the guilt of spending twenty-four hours in rest and service. Could this be possible on any other day? Perhaps, but God has not committed Himself and all the resources of the Kingdom to setting us free from work on any day but the seventh day Sabbath. It is only by faith that we can accept these resources which set us free from Sabbath work. This faith can only be built upon a relationship with the Son of Man, who is Lord even of the Sabbath day. God provides all of these resources to set us free to give Him our undivided attention for twenty-four hours a week. Of course, God wants our attention every day of the week. But because God wants our undivided attention on the seventh day Sabbath, He sets us free from the work of the world. God does all this for us because He loves us and He knows that we need it. And we keep His Sabbath holy by spending time with Him because we love Him.
“It is for freedom that Christ set us free” (Galatians 5:1). The Sabbath is designed as a day of freedom. Jesus is in the business of setting people free from anything that is a barrier to intimate fellowship with Him. If God commanded us to keep the Sabbath day holy by resting, He would have to be in charge of all the circumstances that could keep us from obeying His command. That is why God has set his Son in charge of the Sabbath as “Lord of the Sabbath.” Now we can be set free from all labour and work on Sabbath and be able to give God our undivided attention on His day.