Does The Word of God Command Christians To Observe a “Sunday Sabbath”?
“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9), but it is not found in a 24 hour day, on each Friday evening to Saturday evening at sundown, nor is it on Constantine’s legal day, beginning Sunday A.M. at 12:01 to Sunday evening 11:59 P.M.
I have never met a man that I could say was able to keep a “sabbath” day AS IT WAS COMMANDED.
Most will travel more than is allowed by that law on the sabbath day; kindle a fire in the winter time; cook something to eat on their selected day, etc. Almost all of them will violate the prohibition of carrying anything on that day, for most lug their Bibles with them as they go.
Only one ever kept that sabbath, and He was the Lord of the sabbath, and He needed not to keep it for Himself, but by representation, He did it for those numbered IN HIM, and that as a part to “fulfill all righteousness.”
I serve churches, some of which are first day sabbatarian; I serve others that are non-sabbatarian. It has NEVER BEEN AN ISSUE in the Old Baptist Church that I am aware of, as to what day one is required to worship. Nor, do I believe, it should be an issue. If it is ever an issue, EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM THAT CONTEND FOR EITHER A SEVENTH DAY SABBATH, OR THE CONSTANTINIAN SABBATH WILL BE UTTERLY CONDEMNED, for they are ALL alike: sabbath-breakers.
I remind the readers, what Paul wrote regarding this issue:
“Who are thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own Master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.”
Again Paul addresses the subject in this manner:
“But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.”
And especially in the quotation relating to the sabbath as our rest, he wrote:
“For we which have believed do enter into rest, as He said, As I have sworn in My wrath, if they shall enter into My rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all His works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into My rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: again, He limited a certain day, saying in David, Today, after so long a time: as it is said, Today if ye will hear My voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus (Joshua) had given them rest, then would He not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that IS ENTERED into his rest, he also HATH CEASED FROM HIS OWN WORKS, as God did from His.”
If the apostle meant to enforce the keeping of the sabbath (seventh day), or to have advocated changing it to the first day, (as Constantine and the Catholics), he had ample room to have stated that position much more clearly than I can find it in his writings.
In the sabbath there is “a rest”. I assume that one must WORK BEFORE he rest. While an Arminian, I worked exceedingly hard at entering that rest, and was as much a total failure as were all the Jews under that law. They did not enter that rest either. But I surely found sweet relief, and a precious rest, when I ceased from my own work, as God had ceased from His. I learned that “The work was finished,” as Paul said, “From the foundation of the world” (Hebrews 4:3).
I do, without shame or remorse, declare that I am a non-sabbatarian and a non-legalist.
The New Testament nowhere teaches that commandment to be laid upon believers, for Christ is our resting place.
BOLDLY DO I DECLARE: IT IS MY HOPE THAT CHRIST IS MY REST. PERIOD. I have no other to whom to turn, nor can I keep the ancient sabbath as the Jews of old were commanded to observe it. I’m glad I’m free from that kind of hopelessness now, nor do I ever wish to return to that miserable struggle of yester years.
Where did this teaching of a “sunday sabbath” originate?
Certainly not in the Word of God!
I can trace it no further back than Constantine the Great, and his legal prohibition of first day trade and commerce.
Paul, Peter, John, Matthew, Luke, Mark, none of these saints cite you any Scripture commanding such observance. In fact, the Word of God shows clearly that PAUL DID, IN FACT, oppose such a day!
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, where he is single-handedly mastering it over the Judizers, who said, “Except a man be circumcised and keep the law of Moses he cannot be saved”, he responds with this:
“Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, TILL THE SEED SHOULD COME TO WHOM THE PROMISE WAS MADE; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.”
The Seed has already come!
This alerts me to search elsewhere than the law of Moses.
Did Paul not include the sabbath in this quote?
“Ye observe days, months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.”
If he did not, he certainly did here:
“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a HOLY DAY, or of the new moon, or OF THE SABBATH DAYS.”
He made it clear that those, under the law, were “a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ” (Colossians 2:17).
I do not know how one can read this next passage and yet hold to a “sunday sabbath”.
“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike, Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”
How could this scholar in the law, write such things, if in fact the law was still to be observed by the New Testament believer?
His house would be divided against itself!
Oh foolish sunday sabbatarians, who hath bewitched you!
To what history are we to give credence?
Paul, or Constantine?
But I see something far more serious in this than just which “day” of the week is to be a “rest day”. And that is, If we are to keep the law of Moses, for whatsoever reason any should give, are we not to observe THIS LAW AS IT IS GIVEN?
OR…are we to pick and choose, modify, add to, diminish, or in some way make it more desirable to us than the Jews found it to be?
The law provided “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh [not eighth or first] day there shall be to you a holy day, a sabbath of rest to the Lord: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death. Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day” (Exodus 35:2-3).
Now that we have electricity to “spark” the furnance, or heat the coils, can we let these gadgets, that we PAY FOR, do our work on the sabbath day?
Or can we build a fire in the fireplace or wood heater in the winter time?
Did the Jews not have winters also?
Do you cook your meals on Saturday? or on Friday before the sabbath, or Sunday after the sabbath?
The “sabbath” is only one part of this law. Another says: “There shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat. And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you.” (Leviticus 11:9-10).
In the same chapter the prohibition of the beasts are given, and swine (pork) is unclean.
Shall we here pick and choose?
Do you eat pork chops or bacon?
It is a sin to do so, if you are under the law?
Oh yes, you may not garden today, but would you buy food produced on farms where two different types of seed are planted in the same row; as corn and running beans?
I must say – if you want to be under the law – this is a sin!
James tells us:
“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”
One cannot go “half-mil” in this:
You go the whole or loose the whole!
Either you do, or you don’t!
But the question still remains: Are we, as Gentiles, under that law?
This point was settled once and for all times by the apostles themselves.
ALL TWELVE OF THEM!
Not just “Paul.”
The whole body of the Apostles met in Conference to settle the dispute relative to the law-keeping by the Gentiles in the early church. Here is the finality of that whole issue for all times to come:
“Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them that they abstain from pollution of idols and from fornication and from things strangled, and from blood. FOR MOSES OF OLD TIME HATH IN EVERY CITY THEM THAT PREACH HIM, BEING READ IN THE SYNAGOGUES EVERY SABBATH DAY, Then pleased it the apostles and elders WITH THE WHOLE CHURCH, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.”
Read the whole chapter!
It is not a matter to me whether one thinks someone of divine authority changed the settled day of worship for ALL Christians from the seventh day to the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixth. I have no knowledge of anyone with that authority, although I know Daniel taught the anti-Christ would “think to change times and laws:” (Daniel 7:25).
This is sufficient for me to be very careful of one’s “supposed authority” in this matter!
It is one thing to point out that the Corinthians met “on the first day of the week” and quite another that they did so believing that someone had changed the Jewish seventh day into a Christian first day.
I can’t find any such belief in the New Testament.
In fact, I can’t find “Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy” anywhere in the New Testament?
Have I missed it?
Is the “Lord’s day” the new testament sabbath?
The straight answer is “NO”.
The “legal” or “Law” Sabbath is Friday evening through Saturday morning, exactly as the Jews yet observe.
As has clearly been show by the Word of God – it was given as a figure, or type, of Christ’s rest from all His redemptive work.
In the Creation, He worked six days, and rested on the seventh (Sabbath) and hallowed it.
No work of any kind was to be done on that day, for He did no other work after the six days of creation was completed. The Jews could not work, carry their Bibles to “Church” (Worship), travel beyond a “sabbath-days” journey, kindle a fire, speak of any secular affairs, but only mediate upon the law.
Needless for me to say, THEY could not keep it; nor can Christians.
Christ entered into His work for our salvation, and on the cross He “finished it.”
The “Lord’s Day,” expression, by John has been extrapolated to the FIRST day of the week, by Catholic edict, and Protestant copying. We are under no obligation to Constantine or Rome.
Why do I not observe a new testament sabbath day?
My reason is simple: It is not taught in the NEW TESTAMENT. It is taught, however, that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Romans 10:4).
By Stanley Phillips