"Who's Responsible, Anyway?"
Millions of conscientious Christians attend church every Sunday, the first day of the week. They do so believing that somewhere, somehow, someone
changed the day of worship. Either that or they aren't even aware that God set aside the seventh day, not the first day, of the week as the day on which
to worship Him.
It is true, a change has been made. But the important question is Who made the change and by what authority was it made?
In our previous lesson we discovered that God made the Sabbath during the first week of earth's history. Before sin was known by man, God made
the seventh day holy. He set it apart as a weekly appointment for Himself and man. The Sabbath was a day for man to lay aside his work and play, and
shut himself in with His Maker. It was the birthday of the world, a day to REMEMBER!
If God changed His mind about His special appointment day with man, wouldn't He have recorded so momentous an adjustment and given
instructions to His people concerning the change? And such change would surely have excited great notice among the early Christians. Let us closely
examine the record of the Bible and history.
1. In the New Testament what is Christ's special day for rest and worship called? Revelation 1:10
2. Jesus said He is Lord of which day? Matthew 12:8
3. What does the Bible say about God's changing what He has told us to do? Psalm 89:34 & Malachi 3:6
If any change was to be made, it certainly was not anticipated in the mind of Christ, Jesus said, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the
prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:17-19).
Evidently it was not in Christ's plan to change any part of the law. On the contrary, He died because it could not be changed! Jesus expected His
followers to keep the Sabbath long after His death, as we studied in the last lesson. He warned His followers concerning the destruction of
Jerusalem in AD 70, asking them to pray that their flight from the city would not be made in the winter or on the Sabbath day. We can only conclude that if any change came in the day of worship, it was not by consent or knowledge of God.
Let's take another look at the eight texts that mention the first day of the week in the New Testament and see if God ever instructed us to keep that day holy.
4. Do any of the following texts tell us that Sunday, the first day of the week, should be kept as a holy day?
5. Upon what part of the first day of the week did Paul hold a farewell meeting in Troas? Acts 20:7, 8
This was during the night, or dark part, of the first day of the week. In Genesis 1:5 we find that the evening, or dark part of the day, in Bible reckoning
comes before the light part. Hence, this was a Saturday night meeting. The New English Bible translates this text thus: "On the Saturday night, in
our assembly for the breaking of bread, Paul, who was to leave the next day, addressed them, and went on speaking until midnight."
6. Do you think that holding this farewell meeting on Saturday night made the first day holy?
In the book of Acts there are at least eighty-four Sabbath meetings recorded. It is significant that there is only one Saturday night meeting held by the
apostles. There is nothing in this passage of Scripture to indicate or command a change in the day of worship.
7. What did Paul tell the Corinthian believers to do on the first day of the week? 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2
There is nothing in this text to indicate that there was a church service to be held on this day. In fact, the text teaches just the opposite. Paul's
instruction is that each one is "to lay by him in store." The New English Bible translates this text thus: "Every Sunday each of you is to put aside and
keep by him a sum in proportion to his gains, so that there may be no collecting when I come."
We have just studied all the texts in the New Testament that mention the first day of the week. What do other churches say about the change of the day of worship and the Bible?
OUR CATHOLIC FRIENDS SAY:
OUR EPISCOPAL FRIENDS SAY:
OUR LUTHERAN FRIENDS SAY:
OTHERS ACKNOWLEDGE THE CHANGE:
HISTORY RECORDS THE CHANGE:
"You may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday" (James Cardinal Gibbons, The Faith of Our Fathers, p. 89).
"Take which you will, either the Fathers or the moderns, and we shall find NO LORD'S DAY instituted BY ANY APOSTOLIC MANDATE, no Sabbath set on foot by them upon the first day of the week" (Dr. Peter Heylyn, of the Church of England, History of the Sabbath, Part 2, Chapter 1, p. 410;).
"The Bible commandment says on the seventh day thou shalt rest. That is Saturday. Nowhere in the bible is it laid down that worship should be done on Sunday" (Philip Carrington, an Episcopalian, Toronto Daily Star, October 26, 1949).
"The observance of the Lord's day [Sunday] is founded not on any command by God, but on the authority of the church" (Augsburg Confession of Faith, p. 287).
"The notion of a formal substitution by apostolic authority of the Lord's Day [Sunday] for the Jewish Sabbath... has no basis whatever, either in Holy Scripture or in Christian antiquity" (Smith and Cheetham, Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, Vol. 2 p. 182).
"Not long after the recognition of Christianity by Constantine, the observance of Sunday was required by law. In AD 321 all courts of justice, all city dwellers and artisans were required to rest 'on the venerable day of the Sun' -- only farmers were exempted, whose work could not be interrupted or delayed" (Encyclopedia Americana, 1969 edition, Vol. XXVI, article "Sunday," p. 32).
Emperor Constantine's Sunday law was not based upon Christian teaching or doctrine but upon pagan philosophy with which he was best acquainted. When his famous Sunday law was promulgated, he did not call Sunday the Lord's Day, but instead, the venerable day of the sun. He was not enforcing a Christian institution but a pagan custom. The chief purpose of his edict was to enforce the heathen festival of Sunday upon Christians, thus bringing about a fusion of the two religions. What began, however, as a pagan ordinance ended as a Christian regulation; and a long series of imperial decrees during the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries enjoined with increasing stringency abstinence from labor on Sunday.
The Church at Rome now had accepted many teachings that were not found in the bible. It had put its seal of approval on the change of the day of worship and commanded everyone to keep Sunday as the holy day instead of Saturday.
The following is an example of what has happened since: Rev. Peter Geiermann, C.SS.R., from the Convert's Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, p.50:
"Q; Which is the Sabbath day?"
"A: Saturday is the Sabbath day"
"Q: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?"
"A: We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to
Council of Laodicea (AD 364): "Christians shall not Judaize and be idle on Saturday [original Sabbath], but shall work on that day; but the Lord's day they shall especially honor, and , as being Christians, shall, if possible, do no work on that day. If, however, they are found Judaizing, they shall be shut out from Christ" (Rev. Charles Hefele, History of the Councils of the Church, Vol. II, p. 316).
8. What challenge do Catholics give to Protestants concerning the change of the day of worship?
"The Church changed the observance of the Sabbath to Sunday by right of the divine, infallible authority given to her by her Founder, Jesus Christ. The Protestant, claiming the Bible to be the only guide of faith, has no warrant for observing Sunday" (The Catholic Universe Bulletin, August 14, 1942).
"You are a Protestant, and you profess to go by the Bible and Bible only; and yet in so important a matter as the observance of one day in seven as a holy day, you go against the plain letter of the Bible, and PUT ANOTHER DAY IN THE PLACE OF THAT DAY WHICH THE BIBLE HAS COMMANDED" (Library of Christian Doctrine, p.3).
TIME HAS NOT BEEN LOST!
Someone may ask, "Has time been lost?" If the weekly cycle were lost between the time of Adam and Moses, certainly God would have rectified it when He wrote the Ten Commandments, which includes the Sabbath as the seventh day of the week.
If the Sabbath had been lost between Moses' time and Jesus' day, Jesus surely would have set the record straight when He was here. Jesus kept the seventh - day Sabbath, and He is our example. "He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked" (1 John 2:6).
Has time been lost since the time of Christ? No way! The Jews, scattered over the earth, have kept strict account of time. The orthodox Jew still worships on the seventh - day Sabbath, Saturday.
What about the calendar? Have calendar changes disturbed the Sabbath? No! You can verify this fact by any authoritative encyclopedia. The Julian calendar was in use in Christ's time. The weekly cycle was the same as in the time of the Gregorian calendar, our calendar today. In order to bring the newer calendar into harmony with the seasons, Friday the fifth of October on the old Julian calendar, became Friday, the fifteenth, on the new Gregorian calendar. This number change in the year 1582 had no effect whatsoever on the seven day weekly cycle.
10. Where did Jesus say we can find truth? John 17:17
Mankind does not know what the truth is and most of the human race do not know haw to tell the truth or share it. That is why there are so many problems and heartaches and so few answers to man's dilemma. We are told, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32), free from sin and all of the problems and suffering that have come into the world through rebellion.
9. What did prophecy say a power would try to do to God's laws? Daniel 7:25
A power had thought to change God's time, the Sabbath, and His law. Please notice the confession that has been made:
"Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept?"
"A: Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionist agree with her -- she could not have substituted the observance of the Sunday the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority" (Rev. Stephen Keenan, A Doctrinal Catechism, p. 174).
10. What did Christ say about those who reject His commands and keep the traditions of men? Mark 7:7-9
11. Why will the born - again person keep God's commandments? John 14:15
The Christian will keep the commandments, not in order to earn salvation, but because of his love and appreciation to the Lord for the gift of salvation.
Note! If there is still any doubt about the validity of this lesson, please take time to read "Rome's Challenge," and find out just what the Catholic Church has to say about her role in the historical change from Sabbath to Sunday!
The Bible, the blessed Bible,
This my only question be;
The teachings of men
So often mislead us,
But what says the Bible to me?
Many people will say: "We keep Sunday in honor of the resurrection," but the Bible doesn't instruct us to do this. In fact, Jesus told us to celebrate the ordinance of baptism in honor of His death, burial, and resurrection! (See Romans 6:3-6).
Read Hebrews 4:1-11 where the apostle Paul makes it very clear that if Jesus had changed the day of worship, He certainly would have told us about it. BUT not one word is mentioned in all the Bible of a change in the day of worship.
Others will say: "It really doesn't matter which day we keep, just so long as we keep a day, and go to church," but the fourth commandment declares that we must keep the seventh day holy. We cannot make the Sabbath holy; only God could do that. He created the Sabbath at the end of the creation week in Genesis 2, but we are commanded to keep this day holy. We cannot make Sunday holy, no matter how we may try, for only God could do that as well. God has placed a very special blessing in the seventh day Sabbath of the Bible. We cannot obtain that special blessing, by going to
church on Sunday. Think of it this way: If I took seven envelopes and labeled them with the numbers 1-7; then I put a $100.00 bill in the envelope marked #7. Next, I allow you to choose one of the seven envelopes to take and keep for yourself. Which one would you choose? But what if I invited you over once a week, along with six other friends, and every week I gave the seven envelopes away to my seven friends. What if every week I gave you envelope #1, but I gave envelope #7 to one of the others? How would you feel? It is only natural that you would feel slighted. And Friend, you are
being slighted now, if you have never known the delight of keeping God's Sabbath day holy!
Still others will suggest that we are to keep every day holy. Let's think of this in light of another illustration: You and your spouse are invited to a social gathering with six other couples. When it's time to leave for the evening, someone suggests to your husband or wife, that he or she will pick out any one of the seven members of the opposite sex, and go home with them for the night. Are you willing to let your spouse take his or her choice? I'm sure you will say to yourself: "It doesn't really matter which one he chooses, just as long as he goes home with someone." That's ridiculous!
You wouldn't allow that to happen! There is only ONE person, whom God has blessed to go home with your spouse, and that is YOU! Likewise, there is only one day which God has blessed in this very special way, and no other day will do! Your spouse couldn't just pick another mate for the evening, and he sure couldn't take them all home either! Only ONE will do!