Thinking a lot about the controversial matter of whether Christians should keep the Sabbath in a strict literal sense (from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday), after looking at the problem from different angles I had a sort of "Eureka moment". This is the insight: if keeping the Sabbath is a moral duty, and breaking it is as immoral as raping, killing, stealing or fornication, you would expect the Holy Spirit to quickly convict someone about the immorality of such an act and lead the person to repentance and adoption of Sabbath observance. This is a no-brainer. Thus, this led me to ask myself: "Ok, so let's look at the evidence. Where am I more likely to find records of what happens when the Holy Spirit moves? Oh wait, in revivals!". Yes. So I decided to look at the outcomes of most revivals I knew about, looking for any evidence of widespread adoption of Sabbath observance (an outcome you would predict to happen if breaking the literal observance of the Sabbath is indeed immoral). However, after doing some investigation on the matter, I couldn't find a single instance of a revival in which Sabbath observance (from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday) was a widespread outcome.

I'm listing below some examples of revivals to illustrate the point:

  1. Uganda's Revival: no widespread Sabbath (sunset Friday to sunset Saturday) observance.
  2. The First Great Awakening: no widespread Sabbath (sunset Friday to sunset Saturday) observance.
  3. The Second Great Awakening: no widespread Sabbath (sunset Friday to sunset Saturday) observance.
  4. The Third Great Awakening: no widespread Sabbath (sunset Friday to sunset Saturday) observance.
  5. 1904–1905 Welsh revival: no widespread Sabbath (sunset Friday to sunset Saturday) observance.
  6. Azusa Street Revival: no widespread Sabbath (sunset Friday to sunset Saturday) observance.
  7. Pyongyang Revival: no widespread Sabbath (sunset Friday to sunset Saturday) observance.
  8. Watchman Nee's revivalist ministry: no widespread Sabbath (sunset Friday to sunset Saturday) observance.
  9. Brownsville Revival: no widespread Sabbath (sunset Friday to sunset Saturday) observance.
  10. 1949 Argentina Revival: no widespread Sabbath (sunset Friday to sunset Saturday) observance.
  11. 1954 Argentina Revival: no widespread Sabbath (sunset Friday to sunset Saturday) observance.
  12. Argentine Revival with Carlos Annacondia: no widespread Sabbath (sunset Friday to sunset Saturday) observance.
  13. Argentine Revival with Claudio Freidzon (check out this book also): no widespread Sabbath (sunset Friday to sunset Saturday) observance.

What explanation do seventh day Sabbatarians provide for the lack of strict seventh day Sabbath observing following so many revivals (in which the Holy Spirit is claimed to have moved) throughout history? If breaking the Sabbath is a terrible sin, shouldn't we expect that the Holy Spirit would quickly lead people to repentance and Sabbath keeping? Then how come we don't see that happening in so many revivals?

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    Maybe it would be better to phrase it in terms like "how do seventh day Sabbatarians explain the lack of Sabbath observing following Spirit led revivials?"
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Oct 4, 2020 at 1:39
  • @curiousdannii oh very good idea! I will edit the question, thanks!
    – user50422
    Commented Oct 4, 2020 at 3:43
  • The revivals you speak of seem mainly of a moral nature, and Sabbath keeping is certainly not an issue of morality.
    – user46876
    Commented Oct 4, 2020 at 15:59
  • The matter of the sabbath regards the gospel, eternal rest, the place of the Law, justifying faith and the receiving of the Spirit. It is a doctrinal matter, neither a 'moral' matter nor a historical matter.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 4, 2020 at 16:32
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    My understanding of the sense of the question is that in a true Spirit-led revival the Spirit will lead God's people to a greater understanding of the Bible and an increased enthusiasm to fight sin. So a true revival will lead to, for example, greater sexual purity, and never to increased sexual promiscuity. So if seventh day Sabbatarianism is what God truly wants, then how come the evidence of revivals doesn't seem to suggest that the Spirit led the reviving churches to rediscover the truth of the seventh day Sabbath?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 5:23

3 Answers 3


This is actually the same time that the Seventh-day Adventist church began. It came out of revivals in the 1800's

Starting in 1844 after the disappointment of the millerite movement.

Joseph Bates who was one of the first to be convinced of the Sabbath and was a revivalist preacher. See: (Joseph Bates (8 July 1792 – 19 March 1872)

This combined with the understanding of Revelation 12:17 that there would only be a remnant of the church that would keep the commandments and have the testimony of Jesus.

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. - Rev 12:!7

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    Thanks for pointing this out, but I'm afraid you are still not answering the question. The question is about how seventh day Sabbatarians explain the absence of Sabbath-keeping during and after most Spirit-led revivals. Your answer is presenting a possible exception, but it is not providing an explanation for those revivals that are not.
    – user50422
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 2:08
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    In terms of the revivals, I personally have never heard of any of them in my studies. The argument is essential, while there may be other revivals happening around the world. There is only a remnant that truly keeps the commandments of God. They wouldn't expect the entire world to find the Sabbath.
    – Bluephlame
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 2:22
  • I understand your point, but there is an implicit implication. If only Sabbath-keeping revivals are genuine, it logically follows that that all the other revivals are not. This raises the question: what spirit was moving in all the other revivals? For example, a revival I know a lot about is the Argentine Revival (which was not Sabbath-keeping). You can read about that revival in the links provided in the OP. What spirit moved in this revival?
    – user50422
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 20:51
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    There doesn't need to be an implicit implication about the genuine nature of a revival. Seventh-day Adventist know that there roll is to keep the commandments of God and be in place for the time of the end where sabbath observance would become a test of faith.
    – Bluephlame
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 6:18
  • Or perhaps another question. Are there any, or many, seventh-day Sabbatarians, who consider that any of the revival events you have listed, are truly led by the Holy Spirit of God? Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 16:25

You've asked an interesting question. I don't accept the premise/assumption on which it is based though so would be interested in any clarifications.

  • Who decides what is a "spirit-led revival"? You seem to share my skepticism by your parenthetical "(in which the holy spirit is CLAIMED to have moved)" [my emphasis]. Who has the authority to assign this label? Using what metric? The number of conversions or reaffirmations? The number of miracles? Healings? What about the durability of these effects?

  • It is easy to find pastors of different christian denominations all claiming the "leading of the holy spirit" while preaching entirely opposite doctrines. Some may go so far as to claim the opposing teaching is of the devil! Labeling anything "spirit-led" seems subjective and hence useless for drawing any objective conclusions.

  • Your logic allows a saturday-keeper to turn your premise around and say that the lack of an increase in saturday-keeping is evidence that these are not spirit-led revivals. That conclusion would be equally flawed though.

  • Revival attendees consist of at least two kinds of people:

    1. those who already know the gospel and may be "revived", and

    2. those who don't know the gospel and may be converted.

    If the revived were already sunday-keepers (likely since that is the majority view), then there is no question what they will continue to do. The converted will seek out churches and since most churches are sunday-keeping, that's where they will go. ergo, there is no outbreak of saturday-keeping.

  • How many of those revivalists preachers were sunday-keepers? How many of them preach only grace? How many preached that the law applied only to the jews? How many may preach the ten commandments and when reading the 4th, state that the God want you to go to church on sunday ("the lord's day", "the sabbath" even), since that was the day he arose and conquered sin? These pragmatic reasons (and objectively measureable) may better explain (occam's razor) the behavior of the revived and converted rather than relying on the subjective "spirit-led" label to create hypotheses and draw conclusions.

  • In the end, imho, the holy spirit doesn't impose itself on people. People have to be receptive to and accepting of the spirit's leading. Some percent of christians subjectively believe the holy spirit has led them to conclusions (albeit opposite) on the saturday vs sunday question. The remainder of christians haven't engaged with the question, despite the spirit's leading perhaps.


The question of "Sabbath keeping" is found in all four Gospels and as failing to observe the Sabbath would be a sin, Jesus, who was sinless (Hebrews 4:15) legally observed the Sabbath.

Jesus did things on the Sabbath which others deemed inappropriate. One in particular speaks directly to the question of healing and/or bringing salvation on the Sabbath:

10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” (Luke 13) [ESV]

The ruler of the synagogue made the legal argument Jesus should have waited until the Sabbath was over before healing the woman. Jesus not only disagreed, He said the woman in bondage to Satan should be loosed from the bond on the Sabbath.

Therefore, bringing salvation on the Sabbath is not a sin, and one could argue the Gospel shows the Sabbath is the ideal day for a revival.

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