I lived my entire life as an atheist before I first stepped foot into a Sabbath keeping church. I never went to church on Sunday, so it was not difficult for me to make any traditional transitions in going to church on Saturday. I was led out of atheism first by the book Steps to Christ, which led me to read the gospels, where my mind was totally blown by the Sermon on the Mount. After reading Jesus’ words in that sermon, I found it impossible to remain an atheist, and soon began to go to church every Saturday with the friend who had given me Steps to Christ.
Experiencing the Power of the Sabbath
Every week I experienced the text found in Ezekiel 20:12 (KJV): “Moreover also I gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.” You see, God gave us the Sabbath not just as an evidence that He created the physical earth, but that He can truly create in us a clean and holy heart. Ellen White commenting on this verse tells us, “Then the Sabbath is a sign of Christ’s power to make us holy. And it is given to all whom Christ makes holy.” (DA 288) Every Saturday I would receive more and more instruction that broke down the idols in my life, and continued to change my atheistic mindset into one that put the words of scripture above all things. From Sabbath to Sabbath my life was continually changed until I finally went down into the waters of baptism 6 months after first walking into the Seventh-day Adventist church.
I wish I could say that I never turned back to those idols that held me in bondage, the ways of life that distracted my mind from delving deeper into the word of God, and experiencing the greatest joy of an ever growing, loving relationship with God. But a month after my baptism I found my Christian experience waning, and I began to turn back to the base attractions of the world. Yet it was the Sabbath that saved me. I would still never miss out on going to God’s house on that holy day, and there God used the preaching of the pure word to cause me to turn my life completely over to Him.
The preacher one Sabbath made a point that would change my life for ever. He said that the only thing that should stop on Sabbath is our work. The only change that should have change in our lives is that we are resting from our labors. In other words, our thoughts really should not have to change, for we should be thinking of Jesus every day. What we watch and listen to should not have to change, for if those things do not refresh us in the presence of Jesus we should not partake of them anyway. What we do in our free time should not have to change, for we should always do things that please Jesus. The preacher’s focus was on the fact that we should be living the essence of the Sabbath every day of the week, no matter what we are doing. If the Sabbath is truly a sign of God’s sanctifying power (Eze 20:12) then we can be sure that God wants to cleanse our lives not just on the Sabbath day, but He wants to empower us to live holy lives every day of the week.
If we look at Jesus’ life we can see that He was doing the same things on the Sabbath that He did everyday. He taught and preached to people during the week (Mat 5-7), and He did the same on the Sabbath (Luke 4:16-27). He healed people during the week (Mark 1:32-34), and He did the same on the Sabbath (John 5:8-9). We see that He had a custom of going to the synagogue on the Sabbath (Luke 4:16), but we also see Him there during the week (John 6:59). Jesus’ entire life was a life of purity and devotion to the mission that His Father gave to Him.
Now when I think of the Sabbath, this is what I am reminded of. God’s creative power is memorialized on this sacred day, and that creative power is exercised by Him in my own life to make me into a completely new creature (2 Cor 5:17). Now I seek to keep my mind upon this power and purpose not just every Sabbath, but every day. “Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth (Isa 58:14 KJV).”