Is the Sabbath for Today?
The fact of the matter is that much of the New Testament is founded upon the Old Testament. From the prophecies of the coming of Christ, His life, death and resurrection, to the very teachings of Jesus, on down to the theological principles taught by all of the Apostles, the Old Testament is the very fabric from which the tapestry of the New Testament is woven. This fact tells us that what is true in the Old Testament is indeed still true today. We will examine scripture with an eye to discerning the Universal Principles. That is, those principles that are not bound by time, place and circumstance, but rather encompass all times, places and circumstances. These Universal Principles are designed to do so because they are predicated on God's Unchanging Character. Thus, these Universal Principles govern the lives of Christians today. Our responsibility is to recognize the difference between something in the Old Testament that is a Specific Application (something designed to be limited by time, place and circumstance), and Universal Principles. It should be noted that all Specific Applications, no matter how harsh they may appear, are rooted in either Love of God, Love of Neighbor, or both simultaneously.
While I personally advocate observing the Sabbath, it is not an absolute requirement in the New Testament dispensation. For example, Paul, in responding to the issues of holy days and the Sabbath, writes:
"Therefore, do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration, or a Sabbath Day."- Colossians 2:16
In other words, one cannot be judged on whether or not one observes the Sabbath or not. It is a matter of personal conviction, not of New Testament doctrine. Why?
"These are a shadow of things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ." - Colossians 2:17
The reality of all the biblical Holy Days and of the Sabbath is found in the person and work of Christ, so Christians cannot judge each other on the basis of these observances. I personally observe the Sabbath because I want to be as much like Jesus and the Apostles as I can, and they all observed the Sabbath. If one reasons that they were "under the Law", since Christ had not completed His work of salvation, then one must explain away why, after the resurrection and ascension, did the Apostles continue to observe the Sabbath.
I agree that, after the Ante-Nicene era, we see little to no Sabbath observance in the church, but the reasoning given by some of the later Church Fathers appears more to be their own Gentile tradition than a prohibition on Sabbath observance, which is what they seem to imply in their writings. Even that implication must be viewed as an extreme response to an equally extreme heresy they had to stave off, known as Judaizing. The biblical and thus early Christian perspective is the one Paul explains, which is freedom to observe the Sabbath or another day, just so long as we observe one day as holy unto the Lord.