Counterfeit Sabbath - Part 2

Scripture: Acts 20:7-8, Acts 2:46, 1 Corinthians 16:1-2
Just as hoaxes in the scientific community have fooled people for years, so there are false teachings about the Bible that have led many astray. What does the Bible say about the first day of the week? Is it a day of worship? This talk focuses on Bible texts that supposedly support this.
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For over forty years the world's scientific community accepted without question a colossal hoax simply because it looked like great evidence to support a theory that they believed in. Now let me make it clear that they didn't believe this theory because it was scientific but only because they wanted to believe it.

The fraud that took in the bulk of scientists for forty years was the Piltdown man, passed off by its discoverers as conclusive proof of man's evolution from lower animals. No one ever seriously investigated it for more than forty years. Then finally a doubter insisted on a closer inspection and discovered that the skull had been deliberately altered to look like an ancient half-man, half-ape and was nothing but a hoax. The scientists believed in Piltdown because they believed in evolution; they wanted to find evidence for their theory, so they fell hook, line, and sinker for the Piltdown hoax.

We must be very careful, friends, about what we accept as fact. Even though it seems to fit what we have been taught and we want to believe it, we must be careful to check it out and see if it really is true. For example, take the texts we have been discussing in recent broadcasts. These are texts that mention the first day of the week. We must be careful to ask ourselves about each one. Do any of them actually say that Sunday is a day of worship? It is possible for some to read things into the texts because they want to believe Sunday is sacred.

Last time we considered all but two of the texts in the Bible that mention the first day of the week. Now we will turn to the next reference, Acts 20:7. I want you to notice it carefully. "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." Here it is. Here is a meeting of the disciples on the first day of the week. Now, let me ask several questions here, and I want you to listen very carefully, because the answers to these questions are most important. First of all, if we discovered that the disciples were meeting on the first day of the week, that they were celebrating the Lord's Supper and that they were having a religious service, a preaching service, would that make that day holy? Here is another question. Does the meeting of Christian people on any day of the week set that day aside as a day for Christians to worship? Here is another question. Just exactly what day of the week was it that the disciples met here together? I want us to look very carefully now at this text. Acts 20:7,8. "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."

Now, you will remember that we read back in Genesis 1, "The evening and the morning were the first day." We discovered that the evening, in Bible reckoning, the dark part of the day comes first. Now, let me ask you: If this were the dark part of the first day of the week it would be the time we now call Saturday night. The New English Bible interestingly enough says, "On the Saturday night, when we met in our assembly for the breaking of bread, Paul, who was to leave next day, addressed them and went on speaking until midnight." The dark part of the first day of the week would be what we call now Saturday night.

The disciples met on Saturday night. They broke bread together. Now, we have another thing to discover here. Does the breaking of bread make a day holy? Will you turn back to the book of Acts, the second chapter for just a moment, Acts 2:46. "And they (speaking of the disciples), continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart." Here is the record. They were breaking bread every day. And remember, Jesus gave them the communion service, the Lord's Supper, on what day of the week? It was what we now call Thursday night, the night before His crucifixion, you see, which was on Friday. Then, if we are going to say that when the disciples met together to break bread, it makes the day holy, we are going to have to keep Thursday night. The point is simply this, Christian people meeting together to break bread does not make the day holy.

There is something else here in this text that we ought to notice. "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, (we discovered that this was Saturday night) Paul preached unto them." You remember the story, Eutychus was sitting in the window, fell asleep and fell out and fell to his death below. They went down and God miraculously brought the man to life again. Then Paul preached on through the rest of the night, it says, and the next morning which would be Sunday morning, he walked nineteen miles across the isthmus to Assos and caught a ship. This is Sunday morning. Now, if Paul has a new belief, if Paul has a new day to put in place of an old one, that had been taken out of the way, then he made a terrible mistake here, didn't he?

The point, I think, is evident, friends, there is nothing in this text that even suggests that the first day of the week was the day that had taken the place of the Sabbath that God had given to mankind. Of course not! Why should God change the day that was a token of His creative power? God was still the Creator; why should He change the memorial of that occasion? We discover from the pages of the New Testament that He did not.

We have another text to look at. 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2. "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, at first reading someone may feel it suggests here that we are to go to church and give an offering on the first day of the week. But, is that what the verse says? "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store." You see, Paul was making a missionary journey here and they had had quite a time of poverty and privation back in Jerusalem. So he sent a letter out and said, "Now, if you will set aside some funds for the poor saints back in Jerusalem, I'll pick it up. But do that the first day of the week before you go out and start up a new week of business, and then it will all be taken care of and you won't have to do the bookkeeping after I get there." That is what he is saying here. There is nothing suggested about going anywhere and giving an offering, not at all. We certainly have no evidence here upon which to base the change of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday.

We only have one text left in the New Testament, and really, we are going to discover that this doesn't say what it is purported to say at all. We looked at it in an earlier broadcast; Revelation 1:10. The apostle John, speaking under inspiration, says, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet." John simply says that he was under special inspiration on this day. On which day? On a day he calls "the Lord's day."

If you were to look it up in a dictionary, you might discover that under "Sunday" it would say "The first day of the week, the Lord's day." Now, our beliefs are not shaped by the dictionary, but by the word of God. So we must ask, "which day does the Bible say is the Lord's day?" We discovered that the Lord has a day (Revelation 1:10), that Jesus said that He was "The Lord of the Sabbath day (Matthew 12:8), and that the seventh day is the Sabbath of which He is Lord (Exodus 20:10). As we put together three texts, letting the Bible explain itself, we discover that the Lord does have a day, that the Sabbath is the day of which He is Lord, and that the seventh day is the Sabbath. So really, friend, we can't base the keeping of another day than the Bible Sabbath upon any of the verses that we have discovered here. Interestingly enough that is all of the texts anywhere in the New Testament that even suggest the first day of the week. However, we haven't solved our dilemma, have we?

God is not taken unaware by anything that happens. God knew that there would come into the Christian church a time of apostasy and falling away. As a matter of fact, the apostle Paul writes about that. There were some of the believers in Thessalonica that believed Christ was going to come within the next few months. The apostle writes to them, to assure them that there were some things that must take place yet before Jesus would come. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 says, "Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day (the second coming of Christ) shall not come except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God."

Here, dear friends, is an amazing prophecy. God tells us that there would come a great apostasy from within the church. This rebellious power "opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." God said through the apostle Paul that a great apostasy would take place before Christ would come back. Friends, scarcely were the bodies of the disciples cold in their graves before this apostasy began. As a matter of fact, it tells us in verse 7, "The mystery of iniquity doth already work." Already there was beginning to come this compromise and apostasy into the early church.

During this time in sacred history, one after another of the apostles died and other men rose to take their places. One after another of the great beliefs, the great teachings of Scripture,were compromised. It was during this time, for instance, that baptism by immersion was replaced by baptism by sprinkling. It was at this time that prayers to God became replaced by prayers to the saints. We could go down the list of Christian truths and notice how one after another of them was compromised. It didn't happen overnight. It took a period of generations in some instances. However, it isn't difficult for us to see how that could happen, because many have told us that the thing that has been a great concern to them is that the standards in their own churches are crumbling. It seems in just one short lifetime that virtually every Christian standard has been compromised and pushed aside in the interest of popularity by some church. Then, it isn't hard for us to see how this compromise could come into the Christian church back there, and that is exactly what happened.

The Sabbath was one of those truths that were compromised. Let me explain just very briefly how it happened, and if you remember your history from this period, this will be familiar to you. At the beginning of the Christian era Sunday was popularly observed through the Roman world by public services in which hymns were chanted and prayers offered. As Christianity made its first impact on the people of that age, it was violently opposed by paganism. Scarcely had a century passed before semi-Christian philosophers were teaching in the church. Many of them taught that there was some good in all systems of religion and advocated the adoption of various pagan rites and practices.

For example, the peoples of the East had long been accustomed to worship with their faces toward the rising sun. Although this custom was vigorously condemned by Old Testament prophets (Ezekiel 8:15, 16), the new teachers encouraged the Christians to face east in prayer, "as the type of Christ, the Sun of Righteousness."

Church leaders who desired to win the pagans to Christianity endeavored to minimize the differences and multiply the points of resemblance between the two systems. Since Sunday was the day upon which God began the creation and upon which Christ arose from the dead, ingenious teachers suggested that Christians might appropriately worship upon the first day of the week. Over the course of decades, the fusion of the two philosophies became a reality.

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