Friday, June 7, 2019

Do Christians Break The Sabbath Law Willfully?









Who Changed The Sabbath To Sunday?

Question: There can be no doubt that Christ, His disciples, and the first-century Christians kept Saturday, the seventh-day Sabbath. Yet, today, most of the Christian professing world keeps Sunday, the first day of the week, calling it the Sabbath. Who made this change, and how did it occur? Who changed the Sabbath to Sunday? So can you tell Christians not to break God's commandment by keeping it on Saturday rather than on Sunday, and also describe the importance of it to God from the day of creation to our days in the twenty first century. Thank you.

Answer: Greetings in Jesus wonderful name!

You are right, actually in the sight of God every commandment ever given for humans to keep are all important or else he would not have commanded humans to keep it. But the important thing to note is, there are two covenant that God has set up for human. Initially, during creation the first covenant during creation has been made during which Sabbath was made for man to keep where each individual was measured by His obedience through faith. Then another covenant was made between God and humans, where Jesus became a human and also a Mediator of the New Covenant to fulfill the requirement of it.

Actually in the sight of God, there are three entities on earth that he considers as three unique group of division that has continued for the last two millenniums. They are Jews, Gentiles and the Church of God
(1 Cor 10:32).

So from the time of creation there has been law set by God for all humans to keep God's commandments in obedience so that they might become holy to the Lord
(Gen 1:16-17). But our forefather first Adam fell in to sin, and thus through sin death spread to all men, because all sinned (Rom 5:12). The way out of sin is by faith which was taught to Adam and Eve through a sacrificial system of clothing to cover their nakedness, shame and fear which had come upon them right after they fell in to sin and received curse through God's justice which had come upon mankind for their disobedience (Gen 3:21). So there must have been a place where God has set for the sacrifice of animals to express their faith in God's redemptive power through the Messiah, which Cain rejected through his religious offering but Abel accepted and practiced before he was murdered (Gen 4:7, 16). Even until Noah this act of faith have continued, that is why we see Noah chose to keep the seven pair of clean birds and animals that are sacrificed of those domesticated kind, but only a pair of every other animals and birds that was brought by the Lord which were wild as instructed by the Lord (Gen 7:2-3). We see Noah express the same faith to the Lord through his sacrifice after coming out of the flood through the grace of God (Gen 8:20).



Sabbath Kept From The Beginning? 


Just after the flood, when all humans got together and wanted to make a name for themselves apart from acknowledging the grace of God through faith
(Gen 11:4), God caused confusion and scattered them over the face of all the earth (Gen 11:5-9; 10:25, 32).

The question to ask ourselves is, whether humans kept the Sabbath that God initiated in the Book of Genesis? The Gentiles did not keep it as per what God instructed them at the beginning, Cain and his generations rebelled and went away from the Presence of God and the instructions that he gave them to sustain their faith
(Gen 4:16). We also know that the flood came because the sons of God who were of faith began to mix with the daughters of men who were of the lineage of Cain who were godless and violent, thus it brought God's judgment to all men through the flood including sons of God among whom Noah and his family members who were just eight were only saved (Gen 6:1-5; 1 Peter 3:18-22; 4:6). Did Noah keep the Sabbath of God which was initiated by God during creation? We know Noah did not keep it but had faith in God, thus Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord and out it we know through the keeping of the law no flesh will ever be justified before the Lord (Rom 3:20; Gal 2:16; 3:11).

Then through the lineage of Shem, God raised up again a generation of people for Himself and among them God calls Abraham to become consecrated through faith and brought out a generation of a godly nation through his promise
(Gen 12:1-3). We know Abraham kept the faith of their forefathers through sacrificing altar which proved his faith (Gen 12:8). Did Abraham keep the Sabbath of the creation time? No, but God justified him through his faith, thus we come to understand that faith is the internal Sabbath that both great Men like Noah and Abraham alike kept along with their generations that believed the Lord of Creation and Redemption (Gen 15:6; Rom 4:3, 14; Gal 3:17).

The Hebrew calendar started from the day of Passover to the Israelite's and it has continued ever since as a calendar for the Israelite's to keep the law that God gave later to Moses
(Exo 20:1-51). It is a everlasting ordinance for the Israelite's (Exo 12:14). Even before the Law was given to Moses, Sabbath was reinforced to be kept by the Israelite's when God gave the Manna to them in the desert (Exo 16:22-30; 20:1-26).



Purpose Of The Law? 


Then what is the purpose of the Law that was given by Moses to his people
(John 1:17)?

The law were added after the promise was given already by God before Adam and Eve to Satan about the coming Messiah seed so that they could walk by faith, and then revived it to Abraham through a personal encounter
(Gen 3:15). It was given to show men how guilty they are of breaking God's laws and to be convicted of their sins. But this system of law was to last only until the coming of Christ, the Child to whom God's promise was made. And there is this further difference. God gave his laws to angels to give to Moses, who then gave them to the people; but when God gave his promise to Abraham, he did it by himself alone, without angels or Moses as go-betweens (Gal 3:8, 16, 19-20, LB).

Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law
(Gal 3:21).

Thus for the Jews the law was given so that they could be kept restrained from transgression
(Neh 9:13-14), until Christ could come and become a Mediator to establish a new covenant through his very own blood, which could give life and impart righteousness for the Glory of God freely by faith (Matt 26:28).

Did the Jews keep the Sabbath law perfectly? No, even the first time Moses told the people to keep the Sabbath before the law was given, they broke the commandment of Sabbath by choosing to go pick the Manna on that very day they were told not to do so
(Exo 16:27-28). We know that every time Jesus got in to the religious crowd, there they were rebelling against him because they felt that Jesus broke the Sabbath, when they were the one who broke it without faith in their heart towards God which is more important for the work to become accepted by God (Matt 23:23). Jesus told them that Sabbath is made for man to take rest and refreshment in God and with God, where by reclining upon God in intimacy for a while, humans could get re-energized for his further walk on earth according to the will of God (Mark 2:27-28). Man was not made for Sabbath-keeping through the law to boast about his own works before God (Eph 2:9), but rather for a intimate personal relationship with God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ so that he may boast only in the Lord (1 Cor 1:31; 2 Cor 10:17).

By rejecting the Lord of Sabbath, they were only boasting in themselves of their own works of the law before the Lord which God has already rejected.



Why Not Christians? 


If Jesus, apostles and the disciples kept the law, why not the Christians now?

Jesus kept the law because He came to fulfill it all which not other humans on earth could keep without breaking even once which will make them a sinner
(Matt 5:17), once he fulfilled it perfectly and finished sacrificing his sinless life before God for all those who believe in Him (John 19:30; 2 Cor 3:6, 17), it has already given the believers the freedom to not to keep the law by the letter but rather the law of the Spirit by faith which fulfills the law in us (Rom 8:2-4). Jesus did not keep the law to save himself, but to save us.

Therefore even the apostles and first century disciples kept the law not to get saved, but they kept it to become great in the Kingdom of heaven which rewards them for their works after they were saved
(Matt 5:18-20). We are not saved by good works, but saved for good works (Eph 2:10).

In the same way, ever since the first century, the Christians become saved by faith but do the commandments after salvation with love for God and humans to get rewarded in this life and in the life to come
(John 13:34-35; 14:15; Matt 19:27-29; Mark 10:28-31). These are not commandments kept by the letter of the law, but rather by the law of the Spirit who gives God's very heavenly quality of life and character to the soul and makes humans to rest within (Matt 11:28-30).

Most of the apostles and first century believers who were Jews, who lived by the Law before they got saved by Jesus, were so easily tempted to live by works after they have started by faith
(Gal 3:1-7). So God used apostle Paul to warn them not to return to the works of law and this even included Peter the apostle at a certain time, through which they all learned to live by faith (Gal 2:11-21).

Before Peter could be used to spread the Gospel to the Gentiles, his own prejudice that was there created by walking in the law should be broken, so God had to speak to him about it through a vision and rebuke him to become a useful vessel for Him
(Acts 10:9-20).

Even after Peter has created a revival among the Gentiles through a outpouring of the Spirit, the Jews were still were not sure whether the Gospel is for the Gentiles too, and even if the Gentiles were part of the people of God which were only Israelite's previously
(Rom 9:4), should they keep the law after they were saved was a big question to them? Then the apostolic council came together and solved the issue by coming to a conclusion, that the Gentiles need not keep the law of Moses after they become saved, but they will be safe if they would abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. They guaranteed that God through the Holy spirit will take care of them and they will do well in their spiritual life if they keep these above minimal instructions (Acts 15:28-29). Even these were not law, but only a decree of instruction for the betterment and safety for their spiritual lives.

Thus creation of the 7th day Sabbath was mainly reinstated through the law to the Jews as a sign between God and children of Israel to know they were created by the Creator of the heavens and the earth for a purpose of His to be fulfilled through them. God stated that it shall be a perpetual covenant for the Jews to make them understand that it is the Lord who sanctifies them and that they cannot make or keep themselves holy without Him, but to the Christians the Sabbath day was not a part of the covenant because they are under the New Covenant made by Jesus Christ who promoted a internal perpetual Sabbath rest of the heart rather than externally keeping it by the letter of the law
(Exo 31:13-17; Ezek 20:12; Heb 4:9-10).



Did The Christians Keep The Jewish Sabbath For Worship Or Evangelism? 


Paul went to the synagogues not to worship, but to evangelize and spread the Gospel by the specific instruction of the Lord
(Matt 10:5-6; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4, 8; Rom 1:16c). The target of Evangelism was not just Jews, but also the proselytes who have come fully to Judaism and who kept the law, so that they could make a pathway to go in to Gentile nations.

One of the most straight-forward references to understand the day of gathering of the assembly and the rest that follows for a Christians is found in
Luke 23:53-56 & Luke 24:1 where we come to see that Jesus died on the preparation day and on the 7th day Sabbath for the Jews which is Saturday the women rested according to the commandment. Finally, after the Jewish Sabbath, on the first day of the week which is Sunday, Jesus was resurrected. Because the Lord was resurrected on Sunday which is the 1st day of the week, we as Christians choose to gather together to celebrate the Sabbath on this day which we call as 'the Lord's day' (Rev 1:10).

In another article which one of my Messianic Jewish friend sent me, he wanted to convey to me that 84 times or more the Jewish Sabbath was kept by the apostles and disciples in the Book of Acts when in the article they showed me the following references,
Acts 13:14, "on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down", counted 1 time, then Acts 13:44, "And the next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of God.", counted 1 time, then Acts 16:13, "And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled.", counted 1 time, Acts 17:2 "And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures.", counted 3 times, then Acts 18:4,11, "And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath." ... "And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.", counted 78 times giving a grand total of 84 times. In all of the above references, we can see that apostle Paul and his disciples went not to worship but to evangelize the non-believers with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And so it is indeed a complete out of context interpretation to say that they went to synagogue as though to worship along with the Jews on their Sabbath day.

Some people like to say, the Sabbath is mentioned 60 times in the New Testament as to 7 to 8 times for the first day of the week, of which none of the first day of the week is about worship.

This they say because there are no specific references that point to Sunday worship, but there are enough indicators that make us conclude that Sunday worship was the usual gathering of all Christians from the time Jesus Christ rose from the dead, here are few indicators for Sunday, the first day of the week, as being special, because of being a day of breaking bread, and of gathering collections. Only when all come together for edification and prayer corporately, both the collection of money and breaking of bread always happened or why should Paul the apostle say to the believers that if they want to eat and drink, let them do it in their own homes and not despise the Church, during breaking of bread
(1 Cor 11:22).

Here are what had happened on the 1st day of the week ever since Jesus rose from the dead,

1) Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week
(Matt. 28:1-7; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1).

2) Jesus appeared to the disciples on the first day of the week
(John 20:19).

3) Jesus appeared inside the room to the eleven disciples eight days after the first day of the week. The Jewish way of measuring days meant that it was again Sunday
(John 20:26).

4) The Holy Spirit came on Pentecost, the first day of the week
(Lev. 23:16; Acts 2:1).

5) The first sermon was preached by Peter on the first day of the week
(Acts 2:14).

6) Three thousand converts joined the church on the first day of the week
(Acts 2:41).

7) The three thousand were baptized on the first day of the week
(Acts 2:41).

8) The Christians assembled broke bread on the first day of the week.

9) The Christians also heard a message from Paul on the first day of the week
(Acts 20:7).[Note: the reference is until midnight which is not the Jewish method of measuring days, but the Roman system.]

10) Paul instructed the churches to put aside contributions on the first day of the week
(1 Cor. 16:2).

11) Jesus gave the apostle John the vision of Revelation on the first day of the week
(Rev. 1:10).

So all the other references for the Sabbath is a reference to time and not to an act of worship, which makes the very reasoning be considered out of context and skewed circular reasoning of Scripture rather than balanced contextual reasoning from the Scripture where the context interprets the usage of the any Word. Just because meats are available in a hyper market, could we interpret that every time a person goes to hyper market he goes there to buy meat when it might be for many other reasons he could go there, and may be sometimes he might go there to buy meat but still many other times he might go there with many other reason to buy many other things.

Thus the Greeks and Gentiles who were called "righteous proselyte" were the ones who were joining the Jews at their worship services
(Acts 13:14, 27, 42, 44; 15:21; 16:13; 18:4). But that is before they became Christian, once they became Christians they gathered together with other fellow believers in the breaking of break on the 1st day of the week. Here is a example, "Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight" (Acts 20:7) and "On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come" (I Corinthians 16:2), where we can clearly see that the Lord's Supper is an act of worship and also giving of a contribution is an act of worship when people come together as one gathering corporately.

Thus taking references to Jewish worship and claiming that Christians were doing the same is a false claim to distort the truth of the New Testament. Without doubt, Christians worshiped corporately as the Church on the first day of the week on Sunday.


What About Our Times? 


For the last two thousand years, God sees the Jews, Gentiles and the Church of God as three separate entities present in this present world. The Jews still need to find Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, to get saved. The Gentiles live in unsaved condition joining various streams of religion to satisfy their spiritual thirst and hunger for God, yet they too need Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior to become saved. The Church of God is that which has been present from the day of Pentecost in which it came in to existence, it will continue until the day of the rapture after which it will receive the reward and then get settled in the new heaven and new earth, during this time the New Jerusalem will be placed suspended at the top in the new heaven and new earth as like a bride adorned for her husband
(Rev 21:2-3). The New Jerusalem will be the like the Sun from which the new heaven and new earth will receive their light. God will dwell along with some angels and saints in the New Jerusalem, which will serve as the head quarters of the whole new heaven and new earth. The saints on the new earth will be able to visit the New Jerusalem for worship and for special times of rejoicing. So the Church will live in the new heaven and new earth after the rapture. But the nation of Israel will return to Jesus Christ at the time of the Second Coming (Rom 11:26-27), and the law which has now become obsolete and growing old which is ready to vanish away (Heb 8:13), will once again be revived as a law not to be kept by the letter but to keep it out of gratefulness for the goodness of the Messiah in the Millennium for all His blessings and benefits of salvation revealed to the nation of Israel at the time of His Second Coming (Isa 2:3; 42:4). Even the Gentile nations will have to come and keep the law if they want to receive the blessing during the Millennial rule of Jesus Christ and his saints (Zech 14:16-17). But at this time of the Millennium, the Church will be in the New Heaven and New Earth living by the light of God from the New Jerusalem, that they will visit the earth day in and day out with their glorious bodies and serve God along with Jesus on this present earth to work out a restoration of all things like at the time of creation before sin entered the earth (Php 3:20-21; Rom 8:19).

As for the Church the law which Jesus and apostles speak about it to keep is the law of love and liberty that they should keep by the Spirit, both towards God and towards others humans
(Jam 1:25; 2:8, 12-13; 1 John 3:11, 14; 4:20-21). This one law will fulfill all others laws when it is prioritized (Rom 13:8-10).

The main difference between the Jews keeping the law of the letter and the Christians keeping the law of the Spirit is that
(2 Cor 3:6; Rom 8:2), the Jews keeps it out of fear to get saved and the Christian keeps it out of love and gratefulness for being already saved (John 14:15; Rom 10:5; Gal 3:12; Deut 17:19). The Jews keep the law to achieve righteousness before God, Christians keep the law because they have been made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, so they seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness to be worked out in their life for the Glory of God and become a testimony for Him (2 Cor 5:21; 1 Cor 1:30-31; Matt 6:33). The letter of that law or the law of works only brings death (2 Cor 3:5-6; Rom 3:20; 8:2), the law of faith and Spirit brings life (Rom 3:27).

Because the Sabbath keeping from the Garden of Eden and also during the time of the law of Moses is external, they all kept it by the letter of the law to please God with the fear of God
(Neh 9:26; 10:28-29), it was completely different from how a Christian keeps the Sabbath. For a Christian the Sabbath is a spiritual rest that he experiences within his heart and therefore it is the obedience to the law of the Spirit which is experiential keeping of the law by conviction and confession that keeps him in the zone of blessing (Heb 4:1-16; Matt 11:28-30).

So for a Jew it is still the seventh day Sabbath and it has not changed since the beginning of time in the Garden of Eden and the creation. But for a Christian, the Lord's day which is the first day of the week has become a time of fellowship with one another and a time to think about the eternal things of God to have special communion corporately and also privately so that it can continue without hindrance for the rest of the week in the world where he or she moves 
(Heb 10:25; 1 Cor 16:2; 1 Cor 11:20; Acts 20:11). Each Christian can decide and be convinced in his own mind which day to keep on a particular week as there is no such a rule for a Christian as Christ has become the fulfillment of the law for them (Rom 14:5-8; Col 2:15-17). The shadow of the law of Sabbath rest has become a substance of rest internally which is tangible enough to give perpetual joy and peace and righteousness in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17; 1 Cor 4:20; Matt 11:28-30). Now for a Christian, to relate with the Lord of Sabbath and hear the Word of Christ to keep it is the perpetual Sabbath rest for him, therefore he is instructed to rejoice in the Lord always (Mark 2:28; Heb 12:25; John 16:13-15; Php 4:4).

So the bottom line is, there can be no doubt that Christ, His disciples, and the first-century Jews continued to keep Saturday the seventh-day Sabbath until Christ died, and once he resurrected they came out of initial days to then establish churches in all the places of Gentiles to celebrate the Lord's day where formal assemblies were gathered. From the day of Pentecost the Church authoritatively continued to break bread and keep the apostolic doctrines which Christ revealed to his apostles who encouraged the Church to continue in the same path for the Glory of God! Then the Lord through Paul the apostle established the Church in deep faith through his epistles through which clear instructions regarding Sabbath were further established. Thus it was a progressive yet firm footed establishment of the Church in the doctrines where Sabbath was overlooked because of its relationship to the old and the Lord's day was established as a day of remembrance rather than a newly reappointed day of Sabbath
(Acts 15:23-29; Rom 7:1-6).

Most of the Christian professing world keeps Sunday, the first day of the week, calling it the Sabbath because they do not keep it as a law, but as discussed only as a day of remembrance for the breaking of bread and use it as a day of edifying one another to grow in faith and look towards the day of rapture
(Heb 10:23-25). So it is absolutely right and fitting for a Christian to keep the Sabbath on Sunday!

So nobody made this change externally, except the Lord Himself who got resurrected on Sunday and not Saturday, symbolically keeping the old man of flesh in the tomb and rising up as a one new man in the resurrected body through which the new covenant was established where the Sabbath becomes internal to keep and rejoice in the Lord always
(1 Cor 15:17; Eph 2:14-18, 19-22). Hallelujah!

So now I can tell the Christians, not to break God's commandment of love towards God and fellow humans which fulfills all commandment which is the royal law, and also describe the importance of it to God from the day of creation to our days in the twenty first century
(Matt 22:36-40; Rom 13:8-10; Jam 2:8-9, 10).

Praise the Lord! Glory be to God!

Much Blessings...




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