As the first day of the week is now almost universally observed in the place of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, the question might be asked, On what authority do men set aside the day which God sanctified and commanded mankind to keep holy? That there is a commandment requiring men to remember and to keep holy the rest day of the Creator, which He hallowed at the close of the first week of time, none can deny. Is there, then, any authority for the change of this commandment?
Catholics generally believe that their church had power to change the fourth commandment; and, on that authority alone, they are perfectly satisfied in observing the first day of the week. This, however, presents a dilemma for Protestants, as they deny the authority of the Church of Rome. Instead they appeal to the Bible for the change of the Sabbath. And, while they generally admit that there is no specific text that can be pointed to in which it can be said that God changed His Sabbath to the first day of the week, they point to a number of other texts that they believe imply such a change did, in fact, find its way into the new Christian Church.
1. How must we test all things?
2. Who only are we safe in following?
3. Which two disciples did Jesus have to rebuke because of a wrong attitude?
Note: Though we were to take as our example the most righteous of men, even they would fall far short of the perfect example of Christ. In looking to them we would be in danger of making grave errors, and thereby fall below the standard of pure and undefiled religion.
4. Who did the apostle Paul later rebuke because he acted unwisely?
5. What was Christ’s custom on the Sabbath?
6. At Antioch, what day did Paul and Barnabas go to the synagogue?
7. After Paul’s sermon, and the Jews had left the synagogue, what did the Gentiles request of the Apostle?
Note: This was at least 15 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Jews had all left the meeting, and as Paul was called of the Lord especially to be the minister to the Gentiles, there was nothing to keep him from announcing a meeting for them on the following day, which would have been Sunday. If Sunday were to have been the Christian Sabbath, it would have been logical to do so, but he did not do this.
8. Did Jesus change the law in any way?
9. How long did Jesus say the law of God would last?
10. How does Jesus view worship that follows tradition instead of God’s commandments?
11. Did Christ expect His followers to observe the Sabbath commandment following the resurrection?
Note: The destruction of Jerusalem occurred in A.D. 70, approximately 40 years later. We may know with certainty that Jesus expected His followers would still be keeping the Sabbath at that time.
12. How do we demonstrate the fact that we indeed have a living relationship with Jesus?
13. What did Jesus say about those who seek to take away from the importance of obeying any part of the law?
Note: Christ did not in any way imply that one who broke the commandments and taught others to do so would be in heaven. He is rather stating the attitude that the kingdom will take toward lawbreakers—the evaluation that will be placed upon their characters. This point becomes clear in verse 20 where the scribes and Pharisees who broke the commandments and taught others how they might do so are emphatically excluded from the kingdom.
14. Can we keep nine of the commandments and find acceptance?
15. By what sign did God set apart those who worship Him from those who worship false gods?
Note: In rejecting the truth, men reject its Author. In trampling upon the law of God, they deny the authority of the Lawgiver. Though in different form, idolatry exists in the Christian world today as verily as it existed among ancient Israel in the days of Elijah. It is as easy to make an idol of false doctrines and theories as to fashion an idol of wood or stone.
16. What is the only biblical definition of sin?
Note: If the law of God is something we are to recognize as merely good advice and generally appreciate for its value while retaining an inability to follow its precepts, we might more appropriately title that law the Ten Suggestions. If it is not to be the standard by which our conduct is to be measured, it becomes an irrelevant document. Following from cause to effect, there can then be no sin, for the only definition we have of sin in the Scriptures is transgression of the law, or as some versions read—lawlessness.
17. In the Judgment, what will Christ say to those who profess a relationship with Him, but who have failed to render obedience?
18. Is it possible to be justified without obedience to the law?
Note: God, in His wisdom and mercy, tests men and women here to see if they will obey His voice and respect His law, or rebel as Satan did. God will not pardon and bless those who are trampling upon even one of His requirements. The willful commission of a known sin silences the witnessing voice of the Spirit, and separates the soul from God. Whatever may be the ecstasies of religious feeling, Jesus cannot abide in the heart that disregards the divine law. God will honor those only who honor Him.
The early Christians observed the Sabbath in the most conscientious manner; otherwise, they would have been stoned. Instead of this, we learn from the book of Acts that at times they even received the grudging respect of their unbelieving nation. See Acts 5. To suppose that the keeping of Sunday had begun among them is to accept a supposition for which there is no probability. The Sabbath was a strong tie that united them with the life of the whole people. In keeping the Sabbath holy they followed not only the example, but also the command of Jesus.
While it is true that Christ arose on Sunday, it does not follow that one should give up and forsake the Sabbath which God Himself has commanded, nor that we should seek to transfer that which marked the Sabbath to another day of the week, though that day may be memorable. To do this would require an equally definite command from God, abolishing the former command. But for such a command, there can be found no evidence. Neither the Saviour nor His followers ever broke the Sabbath. Had the Jews been able to sustain their charge against Christ as a Sabbath breaker, as they tried to do, they would have had no need to suborn false witnesses in order that they might secure His condemnation and death. It was because no fault could be found with Him that it was necessary that men should perjure their souls by testifying to a lie.
When in ignorance we have transgressed God’s law, He is very understanding of that fact and accepts our best intentions, however wrongly they may have been expressed. (See Acts 17:30.) When, however, the truth of His will is revealed to us, it then becomes a testing matter, the outcome of which reveals our true attitude toward God and His authority.