Freedom from Sabbath-keeping
Some today insist that Christians
must keep the Sabbath day, that those who worship on
the first day of the week (Sunday) are in great error.
They reason that "Sun-day" comes from the
pagan worship of the Sun god, that Jesus and Paul kept
the Sabbath day as an example for us to follow, and
that the Roman Catholic church is responsible for the
change in the day of worship. Those who continue to
worship on Sunday will receive the mark of the beast.
Let’s briefly look
at these arguments. First, nowhere does the Fourth Commandment
say that Christians are to worship on the Sabbath. It
commands that we rest on that day: "Remember the
Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labor,
and do all your work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath
of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work
. . . For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh
day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and
hallowed it" (Exodus 20:8–11). Sabbath-keepers
worship on Saturday. However, the word "Satur-day"
comes from the Latin for "Saturn’s day,"
a pagan day of worship of the planet Saturn (astrology).
If a Christian’s salvation
depends upon his keeping a certain day, surely God would
have told us. At one point, the apostles gathered specifically
to discuss the relationship of believers to the Law
of Moses. Acts 15:5–11, 24–29 was God’s
opportunity to make His will clear to His children.
All He had to do to save millions from damnation was
say, "Remember to keep the Sabbath holy,"
and millions of Christ-centered, God-loving, Bible-believing
Christians would have gladly kept it. Instead, the only
commands the apostles gave were to "abstain from
meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things
strangled, and from fornication."
There isn’t even one
command in the New Testament for Christians to keep
the Sabbath holy. In fact, we are told not to let others
judge us regarding Sabbaths (Colossian 2:16), and that
man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath for
man (Mark 2:27). The Sabbath was given as a sign to
Israel (Exodus 31:13–17); nowhere is it given
as a sign to the Church. Thousands of years after the
Commandment was given we can still see the sign that
separates Israel from the world—they continue
to keep the Sabbath holy.
The apostles came together
on the first day of the week to break bread (Acts 20:7).
The collection was taken on the first day of the week
(1 Corinthians 16:2). When do Sabbath-keepers gather
together to break bread or take up the collection? It’s
not on the same day as the early Church. They tell us
that the Roman Catholic church changed their day of
worship from Saturday to Sunday, but what has that got
to do with the disciples keeping the first day of the
week? That was the Roman Catholic church in the early
centuries, not the Church of the Book of Acts.
Romans 14:5–10 tells
us that one man esteems one day of the week above another;
another esteems every day alike. Then Scripture tells
us that everyone should be fully persuaded in his own
mind. We are not to judge each other regarding the day
on which we worship.
Jesus did keep the Sabbath.
He had to keep the whole Law to be the perfect sacrifice.
The Bible makes it clear that the Law has been satisfied
in Christ. The reason Paul went to the synagogue each
Sabbath wasn’t to keep the Law; that would have
been contrary to everything he taught about being saved
by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8,9). It was so he could
preach the gospel to the Jews, as evident in the Book
of Acts. Paul had an incredible evangelistic zeal for
Israel to be saved (Romans 10:1). To the Jew he became
as a Jew, that he might win the Jews (1 Corinthians
9:19,20). That meant he went to where they gathered
on the day they gathered.
D. L. Moody said, "The
Law can only chase a man to Calvary, no further."
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law so we are
no longer in bondage to it. If we try to keep one part
of the Law (even out of love for God), we are obligated
to keep the whole Law (Galatians 3:10)—all 613
precepts. If those who insist on keeping the Sabbath
were as zealous about the salvation of the lost as they
are about other Christians keeping the Sabbath, we would