Is the Sabbath for Christians?
If recent emails I have received are any true indication, Sabbath worship among those who claim to be Christians is becoming more and more popular. Recently, I have heard that the Sabbath was never changed by God; that we are still under obligation to keep it; that refusal to keep it is the mark of the beast; that it was invented by Roman Catholics in order to worship the Sun god. We will go to the Bible and a little history to get at the truth.
The Heresy of Sabbath-Keeping
The New Testament teachings of Paul, far from teaching the necessity of the Sabbath, show that such a teaching is pure heresy. First, consider this passage:
Colossians 2:16 “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:“ 17 “Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”
In this passage, Paul says that the keeping of Sabbath days was only a shadow of things to come. He told the Colossians not to let anyone judge them concerning the keeping of the Sabbath days (and other Jewish holy days). Since the Colossians were saved Gentiles who would not have originally kept the Sabbath, Paul is referring to those who would judge them for not keeping the Sabbath. In other words, Paul is clearly saying that the keeping of the Sabbath is no longer necessary. Those who would judge anyone else for not keeping the Sabbath are the ones who are wrong. Here is another important passage:
Galatians 4:9 “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?” 10 "Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years." 11 "I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain."
In Galatians, Paul refers to the observing of days (which would include the keeping of the Sabbath) as one of the "weak and beggarly elements" which put men in "bondage." He is fearful (as he says in many ways throughout the book of Galatians) that they are ready to return to the bondage of Judaism after Jesus Christ has made them free.
The Sabbath as a Sign for Israel
The Bible clearly teaches that the Sabbath was given as a gift to the people of Israel. It was a special sign of God’s covenant between Himself and Israel. Exodus 31:12-18 teaches this special relationship between Israel and the keeping of the Sabbath. Note especially verses sixteen and seventeen:
Exodus 31:16 “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.” 17 “It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.”
To require Gentiles to keep the Sabbath is to attempt to make Jews out of them. It is true that in Old Testament times Gentiles went to the Jew to find the way of salvation. However, in this age of grace, the Bible is just as clear that Jews must come to the Gentiles to find the way to God. Peter, in referring to the salvation of the Gentile Cornelius and his household, said, “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” (Acts 15:11). In other words, Jews (like Peter) must be saved according to the pattern of Gentiles (like Cornelius).
New Testament Worship on the First Day
These modern Sabbath-keepers teach that worshipping on the first day of the week was an invention of the Roman Catholics when they assimilated many pagan practices. First of all, Roman Catholicism was not really established as such until the fourth century after Christ. Up until that time, there were some minor moves toward giving an elevated place to the church at Rome, but there was nothing approaching Catholicism. In fact, it took several centuries after this time for them to consolidate their power into one head at Rome.
At any rate, worshipping on the first day of the week began immediately after the resurrection of Christ and continued from that time. Consider the following points:
- Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1).
- The day of Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost came down in power, was on the first day of the week (Acts 2:1; Leviticus 23:15-16).
- The early church habitually met on the first day of the week (John 20:19; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2).
- The first day of every week we remember the resurrection of our Lord as the beginning of a new dispensation in which we are no longer under the law but under grace (Romans 6:14-15; Galatians 4:21; 5:18).
- CONCLUSION: The Roman Catholic Church was not established until about three centuries after Christ. Christians meeting on the first day of the week began immediately after the resurrection of Christ.
Historical Support for First Day Worship
Finally, consider how early Christians began to worship on the first day of the week according to the historical records. It was mentioned as the day of worship by the following men or in the following writings:
- Ignatius in his Ad Magnesios written about 115AD.
- An unknown author in The Epistle of Barnabas probably written between 107 and 120AD.
- Justin Martyr who lived from about 100 to 165AD.
- Tertullian who lived from about 160 to 220AD.
These are just some of the earliest examples. The evidence to the contrary just does not match up. Before the completion of the New Testament and immediately afterwards, the Christian day of worship was the first day of the week. On that special day every week we come together to worship God and to remember that we serve a risen Saviour. Those who teach otherwise try to bring Christians back under the bondage of the law. Their false doctrine should be rejected. Let us worship our Saviour truly on the day of His resurrection.
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The Sabbath, a Time of Affliction
By David J. Stewart
Leviticus 16:29, “And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you.”
Leviticus 16:31, “It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.”
Levities 23:27, “Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.”
Although the requirement to keep the Sabbath was nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14-16), the teaching of being afflicted has not changed. On the Sabbath Day, Israel remembered the Lord. They turned their laughter into mourning, and their joy into sorrow, and their festivities into fasting. It was a time of subduing the flesh and remembering their God, thinking about holiness and reflecting upon life and what God expected of them. This is exactly what James 4:7-12 tell us to do if we desire to draw near unto God (there is no other way)...
James 4:7-12, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?”
God enjoys merry-making and we certainly will at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in Heaven (this will occur during the Tribulation Period). After the Rapture, the Judgment Seat of Christ immediately follows and then the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. The Church will NOT go through the Tribulation, just as righteous Lot and Noah were delivered before God judged and destroyed the wicked. The Bible teaches a Pretribulation Rapture.
Jesus attended marriage feasts and turned the water into grape juice. Wine in the Bible was never made with stills [highly concentrated alcoholic beverages, which the Bible calls "strong drink" (see Proverb 20:1)]. Jesus simply made grape juice type wine. This is why Proverbs speaks of tarrying "long at the wine," because you had to drink gallons to get drunk. Jesus did not make strong drink as foolish men claim.
God is not against having a good time within the boundaries of morality, decency and ethics; but the Bible condemns eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage (partying) as the sinful world does. The world party's with booze, worldly music, lewdness, immodest clothing, sexual immorality, sinful pride, lust, illegal drugs, et cetera. God did not create mankind to have a good time and party. God created humanity to please the Lord jesus Christ (Revelation 4:11).
Hence, the purpose of being afflicted is to share the heart's burden of our God. Look at the news! Consider that most of the people in this world are going to hell forever to burn (Matthew 7:13-14, 21-23; Luke 13:23-24; Revelation 20:13-15). Consider all the suffering in the world—the sick, the lame, the imprisoned, the hurting, the poor, the starving, the afflicted, the blind and deaf, et cetera. Consider all the wickedness, dishonesty, blatant crime and corruption being committed by our nation's leaders.
Our flesh by nature is corrupt (Romans 7:14-25), and our heart evil (Jeremiah 17:9). By nature we are prone to selfishness and doing what feels good to us. By nature we have all gone stray and turned to our own ways. Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Thus, on the Sabbath Day the Israelites stopped everything and rested from their labors, which is a picture of ceasing from our own self-righteous works and trusting solely upon the Lord for salvation. Jesus is our Sabbath today!!!
God hasn't changed since the Old Testament (Malachi 3:6). Although the ceremonial laws have been done away with, including the Sabbath; we are still told by God to afflict ourselves (meaning, to realize one's misery) in order that we may humble ourselves before God and draw near to Him. God resisteth the proud, but helps (giveth grace, Hebrews 4:15-16) to the humble (James 4:6). Prayer and humility are synonymous. One who doesn't pray is sinfully proud (2nd Chronicles 7:14). The beginning of humility is to pray, letting God know that we know that we need Him.
Today we don't recognize a Sabbath Day; but rather, attend church on Sunday.
The purpose of every New Testament church should be:
(1) Exalt the Savior
(2) Evangelize the Sinner
(3) Edify the Saints
In conclusion, there is no where in the Bible where we are told to only obey Ten Commandments today; but rather all the Commandments of God (there are hundreds, which can all be summed up in just two commands: love God and love your neighbor). The Ten Commandments do not forbid homosexuality; but we know from many other Scriptures that homosexuality is a disgusting sin, listed next to bestiality (sex with animals, Leviticus 18:22-23). The Bible says in Leviticus 18:25 that God vomiteth homosexuals out of the land. God loves people, but He hates sins (1st John 3:16; Psalm 97:10)
The Sabbath Day is a ceremonial law, which only applied one day a week; whereas the other nine Commandments were moral laws, applying 24 hours a day, 7-days a week, all the time. The Sabbath was fulfilled in what is symbolized when Christ died for our sins. Today, Jesus is our Sabbath, in Whom we completely rest for salvation (Hebrews 4:2). Let us take time out of our busy schedule to be afflicted, to draw near unto our God, to humbly pray and seek God's face of approval, to turn from our wicked ways, and to trust upon the Lord with all our heart (Proverb 3:5-7). Amen and amen!