Forgery - Part 2

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, Acts 20:7, Leviticus 23:32
Millions of people believe Sunday is the sacred day of worship and that the Bible supports a change from Saturday to Sunday. But does such a Bible text exist to support this change? This second of two talks looks at two more of the nine references to the first day in the Bible.
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We have been studying now for a number of days about the great Sabbath question, one of the most perplexing, perhaps, that faces modern Christianity. Millions of people have been keeping, sincerely, no doubt, the first day of the week as the Sabbath, the day of rest and worship. Yet right in the middle of God's great ten commandment law there is written the fourth commandment which says, "The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. In it thou shalt not do any work," etc. Now why is it, friends, that millions of people are keeping Sunday, the first day of the week, when actually the Bible commands the keeping of the seventh day of the week, which is Saturday?

In order to find out if there is some Bible authority for these millions to keep the first day of the week, we have been making a search of the Bible. We've been reading every single text of the Bible which mentions the first day of the week. There are only nine in the entire Bible, and we read all except two in yesterday's broadcast. And so we continue today with these last two scriptures in which we must find our authority, if there is any, for keeping Sunday holy. The eighth scripture that mentions the first day of the week is 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2. This is one that is used quite often. Notice what Paul says: "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come."

Now some people claim that this is the reason they keep the first day of the week holy. They say that here is a meeting being held every single Sunday, with a collection being taken, indicating that the apostolic Church kept Sunday as a holy day. Now that is what people say, friends, but let me ask you this question: "Is that what the Bible says, really? Does this text say that the first day of the week, or Sunday, is a holy day?" No indeed, my friend. People have tried to make it say that, but it simply doesn't say that at all. It says, "Let every one of you lay by him in store." Now some folks haven't been too clear as to just what that means, and as a result many people have made a Sunday School offering out of this and had meetings being held every Sunday, when the text says absolutely nothing of the kind. It says, "Let every one of you lay by him in store." This was a private thing, a laying aside at home. In fact, that is what a number of Bible versions say. I have it right here in the Spanish version of the Bible. It says in connection with verse 2, "en su casa." Those of you who know Spanish know what that means. That's "your home," or "in your house." Put the money aside in your house. "Lay by him" was a private laying of it at home. A translation from the Eastern text by George Lamsa says, "Put aside and keep in the house." Many English versions say the same thing. Here is Moffatt's, for example: "On the first day of the week let each one of you put aside a sum from his weekly gain." Now honestly and truly and fairly, friends, does this sound to you like a Sunday School offering being taken up each week? Why, of course it doesn't. It was a private laying aside at home.

Perhaps you are wondering about verse one, which mentions a collection. What was that collection all about, anyway? Well, that is a good, fair question, and we ought to answer it. We find that in those days, according to Acts 11: 27-30, "came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul." Now friends, this shows that they were having a great drought, and the poor Christians up in Jerusalem were suffering greatly. Paul was writing letters around to all the churches, getting them to contribute to the necessities of the poor, Christian people up at Jerusalem. We read in Romans 15:26: "For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem." Now those passages, along with others, show that Paul had a burden for the people of Jerusalem. There was a terrible famine in Judaea, and in the city of Jerusalem many were starving, but out in Greece and Asia Minor there was plenty of food. So the apostle got to thinking about it and according to the Scripture he wrote letters to those churches and he said to them in effect, "Now you know that our brethren in the churches in Judaea are starving because they don't have enough food to eat, and they don't have clothing to wear. The famine has really been hard. Why don't you help them? And I suggest that you put aside a sum from your weekly gain every first day and when I come we won't have to have a fund raising."

Now friends, I'm convinced that Paul didn't like to take pledges. He didn't want to go around when he got to the church and knock on the doors of the people and say, "Now, Brother Smith, there is a famine over in Jerusalem. How much are you going to pledge to help those people?" He was having it all done ahead of time. He said, "Put it aside, have it ready, and when I come you can bring it in and I will take it with me." Now perhaps you are also wondering, if that is true, why he said to put the money aside on the first day of the week. Well, I think that he had a very good reason for this. These people kept the Sabbath. They even taught the Gentiles to keep the Sabbath. The Christian and the Apostolic Church were Sabbath keepers. Now the Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday night, so these people all worked through the week up to just about sundown, perhaps an hour or so before, and then they closed their businesses and went home. No business was carried on during the Sabbath. Then on Sunday morning they went down to their businesses and took out their books and figured their profit, what they had spent, what they had taken in, what their gross and net profits were, and then they put aside their tithes and paid their bills. So the Apostle suggested that it would be a good time for them right then, on that first day of the week, at the beginning of a new work week, to put aside something for the famine relief fund, and that's why he mentioned the first day of the week.

Now we come to the final text in the Bible which mentions Sunday, or the first day of the week. This one is found in Acts 20 and begins with verse 7. I hope that you will read this passage very carefully, for it is the one that is used most often. If you ask for a Scripture as to why someone keeps Sunday you will most often be given Acts 20, verse 7 and onward. Now let's read these passages: "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted."

All right, friend, there it is. Now this is the only place in the New Testament where a religious meeting was held on the first day of the week. Let's ask a few questions about it. We should remember that long before this there was on record a specific, pointed statement in regard to the Sabbath day, and that is found in the very heart of the ten commandment law. It says, "The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God." Now if there is to be any change, it certainly will have to be pointed out and we must demand specific, pointed information on it.

Thinking back on this passage, let's ask ourselves, "Does this passage in Acts 20:7 say that the first day of the week is a holy day?" No, indeed, it does not. Does the passage say that the Sabbath has been changed to the first day of the week? No, it doesn't say that either. Does it even say that they met every first day of the week? Not in the least, it doesn't. Now I know that many people read that meaning into it, but it just isn't there. Now if this passage doesn't say any of these things, then we can put a great big "X" right over it and forget about it as a proof text for Sunday keeping. It means absolutely nothing as far as Sunday sacredness is concerned. If it says none of these things it just simply doesn't say enough. But, inasmuch as this text is used very often, we are going to spend a little more time on it.

Why were they having a meeting, anyway, on the first day of the week? The Scripture passage mentions the reason. It says, "Upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them." Then he gives the reason. It says, "ready to depart on the morrow." Now why did he preach to them? Because he was leaving the next day, and if you will go on down to verse 25 you will find that Paul was never to see these people alive again. He had the witness of the Spirit that he was to be taken and put to death. So here he was preaching to them all night long. I'm sure he wasn't usually this long-winded. It wasn't a regular weekly service, by any means. It was so long that a certain young man fell down out of the window, after going to sleep during the sermon. Paul went down and brought him back to life again and came up and kept on preaching "even till the break of day." So there it is, friends. It was a special, farewell meeting, and that is the reason Paul was preaching to them all night long.

Another thing we can note about this is the time of day the service was held. Notice that it was a night meeting. We're told that there were many lights in the upper chamber where they were gathered together. Now in the Scripture, which comes first, the light part or the dark part of the day? The dark, of course. Please read the first chapter of the Bible. That's where you first notice it. It says that "the evening and the morning were the first day." It doesn't say the morning and the evening. God did not make any mistake here. You see, the day begins, according to the Bible, with the dark part first, at evening. Notice Leviticus 23:32: "From even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath." When you celebrate it from evening until evening, from sundown to sundown, that's God's way of doing it. It begins Friday night at sundown, and this is the way the Christian church observed it. It ends Saturday night with the going down of the sun. Don't take my word for this, friends. Ask your pastor. Look it up in a Bible dictionary. You'll find it to be true. That's the way the Bible reckons time. They were meeting on the dark part of the first day of the week, which means that it had to be on what we call Saturday night. It was a Saturday night meeting. How long did it continue? Paul preached all night long into the early hours right up to sunrise the next morning. Then Paul took his departure and walked across to meet the ship at Assos.

Maybe somebody is saying, "Oh, but listen, you forgot the important part. It says there that they came together to break bread. They broke bread on the first day of the week, or conducted the communion service. They had the "Lord's Supper." But, friends, that is where we are not sure. It's impossible to prove it is referring to the Lord's Supper, but let's assume that it is referring to it, and that they really did get together there on the first day of the week for that purpose. Does that prove that it is a holy day? Listen, if having the Lord's Supper on a certain day proves that it is a holy day, then I submit to you that we would have to keep Thursday, for the Lord Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper on Thursday. Now why don't we keep Thursday? Because everybody knows the fact that the Lord's Supper was held on a certain day doesn't mean that the day is holy.

So in spite of the fact that we carefully examine these nine passages of the Scripture, there is no evidence whatsoever of Sunday sacredness. We just have to come to the conclusion that keeping Sunday is not a Bible doctrine at all. It just isn't in the Bible. We have tried to be very fair and honest in the way we have looked at all these texts in the New Testament concerning the first day of the week. Friends, this subject is one of the most important that faces Christianity today. What are you going to do about the claims of God's Sabbath?

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