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If the seventh day is the true Sabbath of the Lord, why does the majority worship on the first day today?

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Samuel Smith
5

LESSON 10

IF THE SEVENTH - DAY IS THE TRUE SABBATH OF THE LORD, WHY DO THE MAJORITY WORSHIP ON THE FIRST DAY TODAY?

You are welcome to another edition of Insights from God's Word, a Bible study programme that is committed to sharing God's Word by allowing the Bible to speak for itself.

In this edition, we continue with our series on The Sabbath Question. The topic for this study is: If the Seventh - day is the true Sabbath of the Lord, why do the majority worship on the first day today? In our previous study, we learnt from Scripture and other credible sources that the Seventh-day Sabbath is none other day but Saturday. In this study, we are going to find out why the majority in Christendom today worship on Sunday, the first day of the week, instead of on Saturday, the biblical Sabbath. The study is categorized into four sub-sections as follows:

1) THE CHANGE OF THE SABBATH HAS NO BIBLICAL AUTHORITY

One will go through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and will not find a place where the Lord gave a new commandment that changed the Sabbath time from the Seventh day to another day. The gospels make it clear that Christ knew that His disciples would be keeping the Seventh-day Sabbath even after His ascension. From Matthew 24:20, we read the following prophetic words from our Lord in relation to Jerusalem's destruction: "But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the SABBATH DAY" (Capital Emphasis Added).

Beloved, it is clear from the gospels that Christ did not give any contrary commandment in relation to the Sabbath time. Rather, He knew that long after His ascension, His disciples would be keeping the Seventh-day Sabbath. The New Testament also makes it clear that the Disciples of Christ, including even Paul, did not present any contrary teaching in relation to the Seventh-day Sabbath.

In fact, the very Friday that Christ died on the cross, the Scripture provides the following information in relation to the women who followed after Him: "55 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. 56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; AND RESTED THE SABBATH DAY ACCORDING TO THE COMMANDMENT" (Luke 23:55-56).

Friends, if Christ had come up with a new day of rest during His three and half years of ministry, these women would have been among the first to know. But in all their sojourning with the Saviour, they never heard Him teach that the Sabbath time had been changed from the Seventh day to any other day. Thus, in following the example of their Lord (see Luke 4:16), they kept the Sabbath day according to the commandment.

Moreover, the apostle Paul, following in His Saviour's footsteps, attended church service every Sabbath. From Acts 17:1-2, we read the following about Paul: "1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 2 AND PAUL, AS HIS MANNER WAS, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures" (Capital Emphasis Added). All through his missionary journeys, the apostle Paul kept the Seventh - day Sabbath (see Acts 13:42-44; Acts 16:13; Acts 17:1-2; Acts 18:4).

Beloved, it is sad to learn that many who have asked why their church worship on Sunday instead of on the Bible Sabbath have been told by their ministers that their church worship on Sunday in honour of the resurrection of Christ. However, you will search the entire New Testament and will not come across any place where Christ asked His disciples to replace Sunday with the Sabbath in honour of His resurrection. In fact, there are 8 texts in the New Testament that mention the first day of the week (see Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Mark 16:9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1; John 20:19, Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). And as we noted in our previous study, none of these texts carry a command to keep holy the first day instead of the Seventh day.

At this point in our study, the million dollar question that now begs for an answer is this: If there is no evidence from Scripture that the Sabbath time has been changed, then why do the majority in Christendom today keep Sunday instead of Saturday? Friends, the answer to this question is not so straightforward. The reason is that Sunday worship crept into the church in a gradual manner after the death of the apostles (see Acts 20:29). In the subsequent sections, we are going to consider the various events that made Sunday worship to become popular as we see in Christendom today.

2) HOW THE CHANGE OF THE SABBATH ACTUALLY CAME ABOUT

History records clearly how the change of the Sabbath time from Saturday to Sunday actually took place. Here is the progression of events that led to the distinct change we see today:

A) ANTI - SEMITISM IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE

After the death of Christ, the Christian church continued to keep the Seventh-day Sabbath for several years (see Chapter 11 of the book "The Change of the Sabbath" by George L. Butler and Chapters 18 and 19 of the book "History of the Sabbath" by John Nevins Andrews). Wherever the gospel was preached, Christian converts kept holy the Seventh-day Sabbath. However, within the course of time, the Jews rebelled against the Roman Empire. Rome suppressed the Jewish rebellion by destroying Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

With the continual suppression of the Jews by Rome, it became increasingly uncomfortable for some Christians to keep the Seventh-day Sabbath which was viewed by Rome as a visible sign of Judaism. With time, many in the Christian church began to distance themselves from the Jews by adopting Sunday (the pagan's rest day) as their day of worship.

B) CONSTANTINE AND THE FIRST SUNDAY LAW

In AD 320, Constantine the Great, the Emperor of Rome, announced that He was now a Christian. Soon after becoming a Christian, he declared himself the Bishop of the Christian church. The pages of secular history reveal that Constantine's conversion to Christianity was basically for political reasons and not because he had a true change of heart to follow Christ. Constantine wanted to find a way to unite his empire, and he thought that he could achieve this objective if he could find a way to unite the pagans and Christians in his empire. The pagans already worshipped on Sunday and the Christians were now shifting from keeping Saturday to Sunday. Constantine's clever question was this: why don't I unite the empire around Sunday worship?

Thus, in March 7, A.D. 321, Constantine made the first Sunday law. This law read: "On the venerable day of the sun let the magistrate and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed" (Codex Justinianus 3.12.3, trans. Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 5th ed. (New York, 1902), 3:380, note 1). It is important to note that this Sunday law did not mention the Seventh-day Sabbath. Moreover, the law forbade works only within the cities. As we proceed, it is important to remember that Constantine's Sunday law was only a strategy to bridge his empire together.

C) CATHOLICISM AND SUNDAY LAWS

After the first Sunday law by Constantine in A.D. 321, other Sunday laws soon followed from the Church of Rome. In A.D. 325, Pope Sylvester officially named Sunday "the Lord’s Day," and in A.D. 338, Eusebius, the court bishop of Constantine, wrote: "All things whatsoever that it was the duty to do on the Sabbath (the seventh day of the week) we (Constantine, Eusebius, and other bishops) have transferred to the Lord’s Day (the first day of the week) as more appropriately belonging to it." Friends, one of the most significant Sunday laws came from the Council of Laodicea in A.D. 364. This Papal council decreed the following: "Christians shall not Judaize and be idle on Saturday but shall work on that day; but the Lord’s day they shall especially honour, 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" (Strand,op. cit., citing Charles J. Hefele, A History of the Councils of the Church, 2 [Edinburgh, 1876] 316). Beloved, it is important to note that this significant Sunday law by the Roman Catholic Church was not only a Sunday rest law but also an anti - Sabbath law. Offenders of this law were to be shut out from Christ. This Sunday law now created a problem for Christians who believed that the Seventh - day Sabbath was Saturday and not Sunday. History is filled with the story of how the Roman Catholic Church has persecuted several of God's children who decided to honour the Bible Sabbath instead of Sunday (see "The Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe" by W. E. H. Leckey Vol. ll p. 32 and "The Approaching End of the Age" by H. Grattan Guiness, p. 212).

The decree from the Council of Laodicea is not the only clear statement by the Papacy in relation to the change of the Sabbath. There are several clear admissions by the Catholic Church as to the fact that they had changed the Sabbath time from Saturday to Sunday. Let's consider a few of these bold claims:

i) From the "Convert's Catechism of Catholic Doctrine" 2nd Edition 1910, p. 50 we read the following: "QUESTION: Which is the Sabbath day?" "ANSWER: Saturday is the Sabbath day." "QUESTION: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?" "ANSWER: We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the council of Laodicea transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday." ii) From the Catholic Record, London, Ontario September 1, 1923 we read the following: "Sunday is our mark of authority, the church is above the Bible and this transference of Sabbath observance is proof of the fact and any protestant who keeps Sunday acknowledges this." iii) From the book Rome's Challenge, page 34, we read the following: "Most Christians assume that Sunday is the biblically approved day of worship. The Roman Catholic Church protests that it transferred Christian worship from the biblical Sabbath (Saturday) to Sunday, and that to try to argue that the change was made in the Bible is both dishonest and a denial of Catholic authority. If Protestantism wants to base its teachings only on the Bible, it should worship on Saturday." iv) From the words of Dr. Edward T. Hiscox D. D., author of the Baptist manual, we read the following: "There was and is a commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day, but that Sabbath was not Sunday. It will be said, however, and with some show of triumph, that the Sabbath was transferred from the Seventh to the first day of the week, with all its duties, privileges, and sanctions. Earnestly desiring information on this subject, which I have studied for many years, I ask where can a record of such a transaction be found? Not in the New Testament, absolutely not. There is no scriptural evidence of the change of the Sabbath institution from the Seventh to the first day of the week. Of course, I quite well know that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history as a religious day, as we learn from the Christian fathers and other sources. But what a pity that it comes branded with the mark of paganism, and christened with the name of the sun god, when adopted and sanctified by the papal apostasy, and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestantism." Stated November 13, 1893, at a New York Minister's Conference discussing the heated debate over whether the Chicago's World Fair should remain open on Sunday. v) From the Saint Catherine Catholic Church Sentinel May 21, 1995, we read the following: "Perhaps the boldest thing, the most revolutionary change the church ever did happened in the first century. The Holy day, the Sabbath was changed from Saturday to Sunday... not from any directions noted in the Scriptures, but from the churches sense of its own power. People who think that the Scriptures should be the sole authority, should logically become Seventh-day Adventists, and keep Saturday holy." vi) The famous Cardinal Gibbons summarizes this Sabbath - Sunday controversy with these strong words: "Reason and sense demand the acceptance of one or the other of these alternatives: either Protestantism and the keeping holy of Saturday, or Catholicity and the keeping holy of Sunday. Compromise is impossible." - Catholic Mirror, Cardinal Gibbons Dec. 32, 1893.

3) CATHOLICISM'S ADMISSION: A FULFILMENT OF BIBLE PROPHECY

Friends, these bold admissions by the Roman Catholic Church in relation to the change of the Sabbath time from Saturday to Sunday is actually a fulfilment of Bible prophecy. From the apocalyptic book of Daniel, we learn the following about the antichrist power of Bible prophecy: "And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, AND THINK TO CHANGE TIMES AND LAWS: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time" (Daniel 7:25).

Beloved, the Roman Catholic Church actually fulfilled this portion of Bible prophecy (i.e. "and think to change times and laws") when they changed the Sabbath time from Saturday to Sunday. It is important to note that the change of the Sabbath commandment is just one of the numerous characteristic marks in the Bible that show that the Papacy is the true antichrist power of Bible prophecy. (For a detailed step by step study that unravels the antichrist power of Bible prophecy; and the prophetic issues that relate to the end of our world, please request for our Bible prophecy series dubbed: The Final Events of Bible Prophecy).

4) CATHOLICISM'S PUSH FOR SUNDAY WORSHIP ACROSS THE WORLD

Besides the Catholic Church changing the Sabbath time from Saturday to Sunday, she has also worked hard through the ages to ensure that the majority in Christendom follow Sunday (which they esteem as the MARK of their church's authority) instead of Saturday, which is the memorial of the Creator God. Today, through the huge impact of the Catholic directed ecumenical movement, the majority in our world follow Sunday instead of the Bible Sabbath. Beloved, this is the reason why even though the Scripture endorses the observance of Saturday (the seventh day of the week), yet we find many observing Sunday (the first day of the week) today.

Exhortation: In this study, the Lord has opened our eyes to know the reason why the majority of Christians today worship on the first day instead of the Bible Sabbath. But friends, in as much as the majority worship on Sunday, the Scripture still commands God's people to keep holy the Seventh day of the week (see Exodus 20:8-11; Revelation 14:12). From Acts 17:30, we are plainly admonished that "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent". Beloved, knowing what you know today, will you follow the Bible or still continue in the traditions of men? If it is your desire to follow the example of Jesus in keeping the Bible Sabbath, why don't you bow in prayer now, and ask God for the strength to enable you to make this important decision.

In our next study, we will consider the topic: Is our Seventh-day today the same day that was honoured by Christ and the apostles? Hasn't the weekly cycle changed over time? The Bible study references for this study are Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 20:8-11, Zechariah 8:20-23, Isaiah 2:2-3, Isaiah 66:22-23 and Malachi 3:6. Please do well to go through these passages before the next study is released.

Stay blessed and keep shining for King Jesus.

Maranatha!

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