[ HOME ][ TSS Magazine Index ]

July - August 2000 The Sabbath Sentinel

President's Letter . . .

Life In The BSA

Calvin Burrell, Third Vice President

Our parents joined the Bible Sabbath Association (BSA) not long after it began in 1945. In 1955 they drove to Florida, loaded their '51 Buick (rear seat removed) with Sabbath literature and secretary/ treasurer equipment, and transplanted the BSA office from the home of BSA founders George and Mabel Main to our Oklahoma farm home.

Dad and Mother saw to it that their four children shared in family chores, including BSA work. After the move from Florida, every piece of Sabbath literature had to be hand-stamped with the new Fairview address. My sister and I stamped a "jillion" pieces between us, I think. More tedious, and thankfully more rare, was the task of preparing sunset charts requested by BSA members for their locales. This meant adding (or subtracting) the correct number of minutes for each of the 365 days on a master chart, and typing the resulting 365 times in perfect rows and columns -- with no "delete" key.

Those early efforts for the Bible Sabbath were more dad-compelled than Spirit-inspired, I recall. But my folks' example (and God's grace!) eventually drove home for me the value of Sabbath and all it stands for. Today I am proud to be a member of the BSA and to serve as one of its officers.


George Main, Lawrence Burrell, Eugene Lincoln and other BSA leaders were insistent that our Association embrace only two tenets of faith, as called for in its founding documents. The first was that of Jesus Christ (Yahshua the Messiah) as our Savior and Lord. This is another way of saying that BSA is, at the foundation, a Christian people. The other basic tenet for the BSA is, of course, belief in and observance of the seventh day as "the Sabbath of the Creator and of Christ the Lord."

Reflecting on these two tenets, the first ranks higher among the priorities of our faith. This is proven by Scripture that teaches the preeminence of God's Son over creation, over the temple, over the church, over the Sabbath, and over all things (Colossians 1:16-18; Matthew 12:6; Mark 2:28). Because forgiveness of sin, and eternal life, come to us through the perfections of Jesus Christ and not through our flawed obedience, we confess the person and work of our God and Savior as the magnetic centers of our faith.

Sabbath, while no substitute for the Lord as our highest Treasure, still plays an important role in the faith and practice of those who recognize it as His will and one of His great gifts to humanity. It is with the hope of restoring the many blessings of Sabbath to all of God's people that we lift our voice continually on this issue.

We are among the many followers of Christ who commend Him as Savior and Lord to a lost-and-dying world like this. We should pray for all good efforts of godly people to make Him known.

Consider also that we are among a smaller group of Jesus' followers who commend the seventh-day Sabbath to a tired-and-restless world like ours. Given the frantic pace of these times and the fragile faith of most peoples, a Sabbath given over to God's peace and love is needed now, more than ever.

For those learning to trust Christ and obey Him, the Sabbath comes with double-commendation. One of the things that accompany salvation (Hebrews 6:9), the weekly rest day points us to creation past, to salvation now, and to Kingdom come. It follows our Lord's example (Luke 4:16) and obeys His teaching. Matthew 19:17 states: "And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments..."


The work of the BSA falls into two parts. The first is the ministry of promoting Sabbath and all that it symbolizes. We aim to tell the world of wonderful rest in God, and to teach those who know Christ to obey the Father's fourth commandment and receive the added blessings that always come with obedience. These are accomplished by the distribution of various printed and audiovisual materials (available through our Wyoming office), and by our personal words to others -- naming just two of our methods.

We recognize and appreciate the greater efforts at Sabbath promotion that are continually made through the many Sabbatarian churches and organizations. BSA is not a Church, but it complements all other efforts to share the secondary "good news" of God's Sabbath.

The other half of the BSA ministry is one not duplicated anywhere that we know of. It is the service of enhancing the harmony and fraternity that should exist among Christians who observe the seventh day Sabbath.

Every few years, we publish an updated Directory of Sabbath-Observing Groups. This booklet lists a dozen or more denominations and scores of congregations that remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. (Most of these are in the U.S. and Canada, although multiplied [but unknown] more exist in other countries.) Sadly, many of our brethren are not much aware of the extent of the Christian Sabbatarian community. Some Sabbath-keepers probably feel as isolated as Elijah in the desert. One of our goals is to get out the good word about the breadth of fellowship and choice available to those keeping Sabbath.


A wide variety of doctrinal positions exists among Sabbath-keeping Christians, just as it does within the larger religious community. Too often we allow these differences to keep us separate from others who trust the same Lord and whose obedience includes the same Sabbath. The BSA urges us to learn to cooperate with such brethren, without compromising the unique points of our own faith.

We may protest here that we already "love" each other -- a greater command than Sabbath. But what good is "love" if it remains only in the tongue, and never gets translated into acts of fellowship? I John 3:18, "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth."

It is the goal of our BSA that Sabbath-observing Christians will go beyond the word "love" and actually learn to "like" each other, too. When we do, we may begin to reap some of the blessing that God commands where brethren dwell together in unity (Psalm 133). We can only learn to "like" folks as we come to know them personally.

It is not our goal to bring all Sabbath-keepers under one organization or super-church. Rather, we hope to give some visible expression to the unity that Scripture assigns to all who are "in Christ" and who have received His Spirit. Our goal is cooperation with others ("till we all come to the unity of the faith" -Ephesians 4:13), without compromise to ourselves ("let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind -Romans 14:5).


Let me offer two cautions for those who share this vision of cooperation as a distinctive mission of the BSA. First, if we are to accomplish much in this direction, we will need to lay aside our self-appointed individual mantles as "guardians of truth." I may not endorse the emphasis some Sabbatarian brethren give to Hebrew festivals, but I am devoted to them as fellow-believers in the Hebrew Messiah.

It is not possible for you or me to correct all of each other's errors, and it is not always necessary to try. Such efforts too often spell the death of fellowship, and God never insisted that perfect doctrine was a requirement for salvation anyway. Some of us should probably lighten up a bit in this area.

My second caution is aimed at the other extreme, the risk of too much tolerance -- which I've urged in the two preceding paragraphs. Even in our small circle of Sabbath-keepers, there is such a thing as too big a tent. When do we accommodate (or invite) too much within our association of Sabbath-keeping Christians? In my opinion, we do so when we welcome those who deny either of the two tenets of faith presented earlier in this article.

BSA welcomes those who are, first, disciples of Jesus Christ, and second, keepers of the Bible Sabbath. If you're reading about us for the first time, please take the time and opportunity to learn more so that we can learn to "love" and "like" each other as we ought.

Calvin Burrell is Third Vice President of the Bible Sabbath Association and a long time member of the BSA.


July - August 2000 The Sabbath Sentinel