The Sabbath, Pt. 4

Scripture: Matthew 24:20, Daniel 7:25
Does the Bible teach that the sacredness of Sabbath was changed from Saturday to Sunday? Should we keep Sunday in honor of the resurrection? What does the Bible say about this important topic? This is the fourth in a five part series on the Sabbath.
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Announcer: It's time now for Bible Talk. Join our hosts Gary Gibbs and John Bradshaw, speakers for the Amazing Facts Ministry as they now open the Bible and discuss themes that affect your life today. Stay tuned because the next 15 minutes will deepen your understanding of God's Word.

John Bradshaw: Hi, friends and welcome again to Bible Talk! I'm John Bradshaw. With me is Gary Gibbs. And on Bible Talk we talk about what the Bible has to say to us today. Gary, as we've been studying lately here on Bible Talk, we've been talking about the Sabbath Day that Jesus gave to us and we've discovered that it's the seventh day of the week. The day we would commonly call Saturday.

Gary Gibbs: It is, John. And we've looked at it very carefully from different angles. We've seen that nowhere in the Bible was the Sabbath changed from Saturday to Sunday. In fact, we've looked at the key text dealing with the first day of the week and they don't show that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday at all.

John: Did Jesus ever given us any instruction to new Covenant Christians about this subject? Where we could say "OK. Jesus has spoken to us and said you really ought to keep the Seventh Day Sabbath."

Gary: In Jesus' last words, right before he died in Matthew 24 when he was talking about future events and last day events, he actually indicated that he expected the disciples to be keeping the Sabbath at least 40 years out from His death. He was crucified in 31 AD. In Matthew 24:20 he told the disciples, "Pray that your flight be not in the winter neither on the Sabbath day." In reference to the Roman attack upon the city of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

John: So he was looking 40 years into the future? And he said, "40 years from now the Seventh Day Sabbath will still be of concern to you."

Gary: That's what I get out of what he was saying there because he said, "Pray that you don't have to flee in the winter and pray that you don't have to flee on the Sabbath Day." Because they would naturally be caught unguarded because they would be worshiping God on the Sabbath Day and they wouldn't be prepared for war.

John: Now, we found the Bible doesn't anywhere say that the Sabbath was changed from the Saturday to the Sunday, not at all. Nor does it give us license to pick another day, to choose that day to be the Sabbath Day. There's something that I want to challenge you here with a little bit. Many of the times that you will hear somebody say "Well, we keep Sunday holy in honor of the resurrection." Now that sounds almost plausible.

Gary: It does but why don't we keep Friday holy in honor of the Crucifixion? I don't think you can separate the value of both those events. Without the Crucifixion, the Resurrection would be nothing. So they're equally important but we don't keep Friday and Sunday holy, do we?

John: Sure, sure! But why can't we say, "The Resurrection happened on a Sunday so we'll keep Sunday holy?"

Gary: Because the Bible doesn't say that's what we ought to do to honor the Resurrection. The Bible gives us a symbol to honor the Resurrection. Do you know what it is?

John: No, what is that?

Gary: It's baptism. Roman 6 tells us that when we're baptized, we're baptized into Christ, to rise and walk in newness of life. So we keep baptism as a symbol of the death, burial, resurrection of Jesus Christ.

John: You're not saying that the Resurrection isn't important or that we should minimize it or not remember it?

Gary: No, but Jesus never said, "Honor Sunday and keep Sunday holy in honor of my resurrection." And that's the main point, John. And that's the point our listeners need to keep foremost in their minds. Why do we keep Sunday holy? We can come up with a multitude of reasons for why we think we keep Sunday holy but what does the Bible say? What does the Bible tell us? This is Bible Talk program, we have to go back to the scripture and let the Bible give the boundaries to our faith. It never tells us keep Sunday holy and honor the Resurrection.

John: If the Bible never tells us to keep Sunday holy and the Bible does tell us to keep the seventh day Sabbath, how is it that today we have Christians everywhere who love the Lord, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt of course and just say Christians love the Lord. Why then have people and Christians supposed to take their faith from the Bible, got to a place when the significant feature of their faith is totally unbiblical? How did we get from Sabbath to Sunday?

Gary: John, the change from the Seventh Day Sabbath Saturday to Sunday happened gradually over time. It began back in about the second and third century AD. The Jewish people were revolting against the Roman Empire. So the Romans were trying to wipe out anything that's favorite of Judaism. And of course Christianity, according to the Roman view, was just lumped together with Judaism. They had a Jewish leader, they kept the same Sabbath day on Saturday and so they started persecuting Christians and Jews. Over time some Christians began to compromise in order to come into favor with the Roman Empire. And they began to keep Sunday holy as well as Saturday. And then gradually over the centuries Sabbath dropped out because they made Sabbath a fast day. Couldn't eat that day, couldn't have fun, couldn't be happy. But they made Sunday a feast day. And what would you choose over time if you had a choice between a feast day and a fast day?

John: It's pretty clear what would be the more appealing.

Gary: And that's exactly what happened over time. People went to that which was more appealing and they started keeping Sunday. And of course that is what everybody in the Roman Empire, the pagans, were keeping in honor of the sun.

John: What you're saying then, this is not a change that happened as soon as Jesus died on the cross? You're told and you hear many, many times that Christ died and things changed.

Gary: But it changed very gradually over 200, even 300, years. The early Christians are documented as keeping the Seventh Day Sabbath holy. Sunday keeping came in as the church began compromising with the world around it and the pagans around it.

John: This really is a significant alteration to Biblical faith. I mean, stop and think about what we've got here. We've got God's holy Ten Commandments and then someone, somebody, somehow coming along and saying, "No, let's change that." And all of Christianity pretty much buying this new change and alteration to the Ten Commandments holy law of God.

Gary: When we come to about the fourth century, 325 AD? Then you have the church making some really bold proclamations regarding Sunday as a holy day. There's a Council of the Church that was held in Nicaea, which is in the country of Turkey today and back in 325 AD they said that a Christian should not be idle on Saturday but should work on that day and instead keep Sunday holy. So you have to come down to 325 AD before you find Christians saying. "Don't keep the Sabbath holy anymore. Keep Sunday holy."

John: And this was a proclamation made that affected people, I guess, right throughout Christendom.

Gary: It did and it was a major departure from what the church was used to doing and what they had been doing.

John: Well, who made this proclamation then?

Gary: Well, it was the church leaders and by this time they have really compromised their faith. They were straying very far from the Scripture in a number of areas. The Sabbath was only one of them. You know, the Bible actually prophesied that this type of thing would happen.

John: The Bible told us in advance that we could see some kind of attack on the law of God?

Gary: It did. In Daniel 7:25 it says that the little horn power would think to change time and laws and there is only one law of God's ten that deals with time and that's the fourth commandment regarding the seventh-day Sabbath.

John: So this was prophesied that it would take place and we investigated this pretty thoroughly nowhere in the Bible is there a verse that commands us to honor any other Sabbath day than the one God gave to us. So it didn't emanate from the Bible this change?

Gary: No, it didn't. It came in as a compromise by the Christian church. In the book of Thessalonians, I believe it's a 2 Thessalonians 2. We're told there in verse one through four that there would come a falling away, that the Christian church would actually fall away from the foundation of its faith that would fall away from true Biblical doctrine. You can actually trace this, John, down through history. Especially when you come to the Middle Ages, what we call the Dark Ages, there at that time the Church was in control of the state. But the Church wasn't following the Bible at all. They have even lost sight of the most fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith that salvation is through Jesus Christ by grace and not of works.

John: Good time to reiterate here that although we recognize the Ten Commandments are important, a Christian who loves Jesus ought to keep them, we are not relying on them for salvation, are we?

Gary: We're really not. But by the time we come to the Middle Ages, the church had grown so accustomed to passing laws against God's Word that they actually boasted of it all. I'll read to you from a Church source here. It says, "The Pope has power to change times and to abrogate laws and to dispense with all things even the precepts of Christ. So here the Church got to the place where it felt like it had the power to do away with God's laws because the Church was God on Earth.

John: So the Church really felt like they had a divine right to just pretty well do their way altogether?

Gary: It really did and that's why you find so many things being practiced in the church today really don't have their root in Scripture.

John: I think too, if you keep in mind that this is at the time as you said Gary, the church dominated the state. So when the church spoke, that really affected everybody.

Gary: It really did and it has carried on even though the church doesn't dominate the state today we've kind of accepted this tradition of Sunday keeping without critically questioning it, without going to the Scripture and researching it. In many catechisms today, I'm reading from the Convert's Catechism, a Catholic doctrine, you'll read questions like, which is the Sabbath day? The answer is Saturday is the Sabbath day.

John: It says that right in the catechism.

Gary: Right there in the catechism. Then the following question says, why then do we observe Sunday instead of Sabbath? The answer is because the Catholic church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday. So the church has just said, "This is what happened in history." They admit it. But I believe true Christians of every faith will say, "Let's get back to the Bible. Let's not go along with these traditions that have crept in through compromise. Let's go back to God's Word."

John: Anybody listening Bible Talk knows now from this program and studies that we've done previously that when we want to follow the Bible that points us very clearly to the seventh day being the Sabbath and Jesus says if you love me you'll keep my commandments. So surely, that's included in them. Jesus said, "If you love me then you won't steal, you won't kill, you won't dishonor your parents and you will remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.

Gary: We won't be looking for ways to get away from keeping God's law. We'll look for ways to keep God's law because we're motivated by love and we want to follow God's Word. You know a lot of people, John, have died down through the centuries because they were faithful to God's Word. I think about martyrs who shed their blood, martyrs who were burned at the stake because they would not compromise God's Word. As a Christian today I want to carry on that grand tradition. I want to be faithful to God's Word. Therefore, I want to keep the Sabbath holy as God has told us to.

John: Now, I'm sure there is no doubt in anybody's mind irrespective of what day of the week somebody keeps this the Sabbath day, God still loves people. He loves everybody. That's right, isn't it?

Gary: God has Christians in every church, those who are keeping Sunday, those who are keeping Sabbath holy. He has true believers, but God's calling us up higher. He's calling us to follow him more closely and I believe God's people from every faith will make their way to what the Bible says and keep the Sabbath day holy on Saturday.

John: Christian friend, we need to remember that our salvation is in Jesus Christ and in what he has done for us. Jesus' death on the cross and through his shed blood gives to us salvation as a free gift. We can not earn it. We can not buy it. We can not pay for it, but we can respond to that gift of salvation. Jesus speaks to us all today and he says, "If you love me, keep my commandments." Not seven of them or eight of them or nine of them but there are ten. Love for Jesus will motivate us to do His will.

Thanks for joining us today. Join me John Bradshaw and Gary Gibbs again next time on Bible Talk.


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