I have been an advocate for “salvation through faith alone in Jesus Christ” for more than forty years. I also believe in the perpetual and obligatory nature of the Ten Commandments at a time when many Christians have been led to think that faith and obedience are mutually opposed.
It is a joy to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others and to see attitudes and lives changed through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. It surprises some people to learn that God’s amazing grace is only necessary because God’s laws are eternal. King David wrote, “All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.” (Psalm 119:160)
The Bible says that where there is no law, there is no sin. (Romans 4:15) It also says that sin is the transgression of God’s law. (1 John 3:4) If love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:10), we can say that the Ten Commandments are an expression of God’s two laws of love.
The first four commandments describe what love for God will produce and the last six commandments describe what love for our neighbors will produce. The Ten Commandments were declared in the Old Testament and all of them were reiterated in the New Testament because collectively, they constitute the law of God.
The Ten Commandments do not say anything about eternal life because the purpose of the Ten Commandments is not salvation. When it comes to salvation, there are two kinds of legalists. One legalist believes that eternal life comes through perfect obedience to God’s law (like the rich young ruler who thought he was without fault in God’s sight).
The other legalist is someone who has convinced himself that he is saved because he totally believes that he is saved. This person regards God’s grace as a legally binding, “Get out of jail (Hell) for free,” ticket and he rejects the idea there is any connection between behavior and salvation.
Serious Bible students know that faith in God is the doorway to eternal life – not grace, not law. Grace does not save us, instead God’s grace makes the doorway to salvation possible. Law does not save us instead, God’s law transforms us into citizens of His kingdom. The Bible says a person is saved “through faith.” (Romans 3:22; 5:1; Ephesians 2:8; Philippians 3:9)
The word “faith” has many common meanings, but the only kind of faith that produces salvation is what I call “salvific faith.”* Salvific faith occurs when a person is prompted by the Holy Spirit to do something and the price for obedience is significant, yet the person is willing to obey the voice of the Spirit, leaving the consequences in God’s hands.
Consider these examples given in Hebrews 11: By faith, Abraham left his homeland behind when he was called to go to another land. By faith, Noah sold all he had and built an ark. By faith, Abel killed a lamb, put it on the altar, and it cost him his life. Paul declares that everyone who lives by faith is given the righteousness necessary for salvation (Romans 1:17) and this explains how sinners become heirs of salvation.
(*Note: Salvific faith is not to be confused with intellectual assent, arrogance, religious persuasion, or a “faith based denomination.” I define this faith narrowly because it pertains to the humble attitude and obedient behavior that leads to eternal life.)
The Ten Commandments are Ten Promises
When our Creator wrote the Ten Commandments on two stone tablets with His own finger, He wrote out ten promises. This may come as a surprise, but the Ten Commandments describe ten changes that will happen in a person’s life when they love God with all their heart, mind and soul, and their neighbors as themselves. This explains why the Ten Commandments are called a covenant. (Exodus 34:28)
When our love for a neighbor keeps us from stealing his possessions, God’s eighth promise has been fulfilled. When our love for God keeps us from using His name in vain, His third promise has been fulfilled. God has promised to put His ten laws within the hearts and minds of all who seek Him. (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 10:16) Every Christian knows that a person can only walk with God for as long as his heart and mind aligns with God’s heart and mind. Moses said to God, “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.” (Exodus 33:13)
Obeying the Ten Commandments has many practical and pleasant benefits, but these benefits have nothing to do with salvation until they become a test of faith. For example, in Daniel 3, the faith of Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego was tested with being burned alive in a fiery furnace. Would they bow down and worship the golden image or would they put their faith in God and obey His second commandment which forbids worshiping images.
Of course, temptations are not always this drastic, but make no mistake about it. When we are tempted with little things such as lying to avoid the consequences, our faith in God is being tested. Should we do what is right and trust God to help us work through the consequences or should we deceive and humanly resolve the situation?
The Ten Commandments are now located in a box called the Ark of His Covenant – or the Ark of His Promise. Unlike many Christian believers, I understand the Bible predicts a day is coming when God will test the whole world to see whether we love Him and our neighbors as His law requires. At the end of this testing time, He will reveal the Ark of His Covenant from Heaven because His covenant and the blood of Jesus are the basis for our redemption! (Revelation 11:19)
If the Ten Commandments were abolished at the cross as many Christians claim, why would God show an empty box to the world at the end of the Great Tribulation?
My Response to “Why Worship on Sunday?”
I do not wish to aggravate anyone even though the topic of Saturday vs Sunday can quickly become argumentative. So please consider this: Even though I have concluded the Ten Commandments are obligatory, I can only speak for myself. I believe that until/unless a person becomes convicted by the Holy Spirit that he should observe God’s seventh day Sabbath, he should not.
Keeping the Sabbath holy (or for that matter, keeping Sunday holy) should be a matter of Holy Spirit conviction. I have many friends that do not see in Scripture what I see. I understand this. The Bible teaches that spiritual things are spiritually understood (1 Corinthians 2:13,14; 2 Corinthians 3:17). Because we are at different places in our spiritual understanding, there will be differences, but our differences must not lessen our love for one another – although we recognize that spiritual differences affect our interactions with one another.
The fourth commandment declares the seventh day of the week is a memorial to God’s creation (Exodus 20:11), a day which He made holy before sin began (Genesis 2:1-3), and a day of rest for all humanity (Exodus 20:8-10). However, this understanding is challenged by an article found in the Baptist Bulletin titled, “Why Worship on Sunday?” ( I do not know if Norman Olson is the author of the document or the editor. For purposes of my response, I have assumed that Norman Olson wrote the article.) You can find the document here:
Mr. Olson has done an excellent job of assembling seven essential arguments used by Christians over the past 2,000 years to justify the observance of Sunday. When collectively assembled, these arguments appear to make a strong case for the observance of Sunday as a holy day if the reader is not acquainted with the details of each argument. However, when we consider each argument and see what the Bible says, I believe the conclusions in the article are not valid.
However, each person has to look at the evidence and determine for himself whether the Bible supports the claim that God has transferred the sacredness of His Sabbath to Sunday.
May I also say that since the Sabbath versus Sunday question has behavioral consequences, I am reminded of this remarkable statement: “When a man who is honestly mistaken hears the truth, he will either quit being mistaken or cease being honest.” — Richard J. Humpal, JD
1. The Holy Spirit Came at Pentecost on Sunday
Justifying the importance of Sunday in the early church, Olson writes, "The coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost occurred, as well, on the first day [of the week] (Acts 2:1). This is known because, according to Old Testament law, Pentecost came on the first day of the week (Leviticus 23:15, 16)."
Olson insinuates that the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost made the seventh day obsolete and the first day holy. But does it? According to Leviticus 23, we know that Pentecost always fell on a Sunday. The question is how can the observance of Pentecost neutralize the fourth commandment AFTER the cross when it had absolutely no effect on the Sabbath commandment PRIOR to the cross?
Therefore, claiming that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at an obsolete feast that took place some fifty days AFTER the cross suddenly cancels the divine authority of the Ten Commandments is not logical.
2. Jesus was Resurrected on Sunday
Arguing that the resurrection of Jesus suddenly made Sunday holy, Olson writes, "Rather, it [the observance of Sunday] began with the resurrection of Christ, which occurred on the first day of the week (John 20:1). Also on that first day of the week, Jesus appeared to His disciples. Then Jesus appeared to them again on the first day of the next week (John 20:26)."
Even though Jesus arose from the dead on Sunday morning, there is no text in the Bible indicating that the sacredness of God's Sabbath was transferred to Sunday because due to Jesus’ resurrection on Sunday. It seems strange and out of character for God to suddenly initiate Sunday observance on Resurrection Sunday and not say anything about it.
Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene on Sunday morning, He also appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and He appeared to the remainder of His disciples that evening. (John 20:19) Later, Jesus also “appeared” to His disciples by the Sea of Tiberias on a completely different day. (John 21:1) When it comes to abolishing the sacredness of God’s Sabbath, what difference does it make if Jesus appeared to His disciples on Sunday or any other day of the week?
Luke 24:13 indicates the distance between Jerusalem and Emmaus was seven miles. According to the record, Jesus joined two of His disciples as they walked several miles to Emmaus. After discovering it was Jesus who walked with them (and Jesus suddenly disappeared), they walked back to Jerusalem that evening to tell the other disciples that they had seen a risen Jesus.
Luke’s account indicates that the disciples did not regard Sunday as a holy day for possibly three reasons. First, they traveled the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus on Sunday. If Sunday was to be considered a holy day, they were unaware of it because walking seven miles is not in keeping with the commandment to rest on God’s Sabbath. Second, when they discovered that Jesus was alive, they traveled seven miles again and probably arrived in Jerusalem on Monday evening. (Remember, in Bible times, when Sunday ended at sunset, Monday night began.)
Would the disciples have walked 14 miles if Sunday was considered a holy day? Acts 1:12 stated that a Sabbath day’s walk was no more than two miles. Finally, the two disciples had been raised as Jews. As such, they had observed the seventh day Sabbath rest all of their lives. Again, it seems strange that there was no discussion; not a single word mentioned about the sacredness of Sunday as they walked with Jesus to Emmaus.
Think back for a moment. Just five days before walking with His disciples to Emmaus, Jesus and His disciples sat on the Mount of Olives. The disciples were anxious to know about the end of the world (Matthew 24:3) and responding to their concern, Jesus uttered two prophecies. The first prophecy pertained to the upcoming destruction of Jerusalem which was forty years away (A.D. 70) and the second pertains to the end of the world.
When speaking about the forthcoming destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus said, “Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.” (Matthew 24:20) If Jesus foreknew that the sacredness of His Sabbath would be transferred to Sunday just five days after uttering this prophecy, why did He encourage His disciples to pray that they would not have to travel on the Sabbath forty years later?
Given the profound impact and resistance that would have occurred if Jewish converts had been told to suddenly start resting and worshiping on Sunday and working on the Sabbath, the New Testament would have much to say about such an argument. There is an enormous amount of controversy over simple things such as circumcision and food offered to idols – but there is no mention of any controversy concerning the sudden arrival of a new holy day. Zero.
This silence indicates there was no controversy about the sacredness of Sunday between Jews and Christians in the New Testament because neither group considered Sunday to be a holy day during the first century A.D.
3. Paul Ate at the Lord's Table on Sunday
Using Paul’s actions at Troas to support Sunday observance, Olson writes, "Later Paul preached to believers (Acts 20:7) and believers partook of the Lord’s Table— both on the first day of the week."
If I were in Mr. Olson’s shoes, advocating Sunday observance, I would not use Acts 20:7 because this argument always backfires when the facts are investigated. To begin, notice the timing of Acts 20:7. At Creation, God established a day as a period of time between two sunsets. (Genesis 1; Leviticus 23:32; John 19:31)
In other words, the evening is used to mark the beginning of the night and the morning is used to mark the beginning of the light. Given God’s method for measuring time, Paul met with the believers in Troas as the first day of the week began, but in our world today, the first day of the week does not begin until midnight. Do you think Sunday keeping Christians should still observe Sunday from sunset to sunset?
“On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave [KJV: on the morrow] the next day, kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting.” (Acts 20:7,8)
Three facts stand out about this meeting that need thoughtful consideration:
1. Olson asserts “the believers partook of the Lord’s Table,” but Acts 20:7 does not mention the believers partook of the Lord’s Table. The text only says they “came together to break bread.” Breaking bread does not necessarily mean partaking of the Lord’s Table. “Breaking bread” is an biblical expression for sharing or eating a meal. (Luke 24:35; Acts 27:35)
Notice this passage, taken from Acts 2 because it predates Acts 20 by fifteen or more years: “Every day they [the believers] continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:46,47, insertion mine)
Paul’s preaching was interrupted by an accident at midnight. Eutychus went to sleep sitting in a window and he fell to the ground from the third story. The fall killed him, but the Holy Spirit brought Eutychus to life through Paul. After this miraculous event occurred, Paul went back upstairs, broke bread again and continued talking until daylight. At daybreak he left Troas with his traveling associates because Paul and his associates did not regard Sunday as a holy day! (Acts 20:9-13)
Before we proceed, consider this question: Let’s assume Olson’s assertion is valid for a moment. Does partaking of “the Lord’s Table” on Sunday make Sunday a holy day? Before you answer do not forget that Jesus and His disciples ate the very first “Lord’s Supper” on a Thursday night. (1 Corinthians 11:23-25) After comparing the timing of Jesus and His disciples with that of Paul and his associates, which example is more important? Does either example make either day holy?
2. Even though Olson wants to believe it, Acts 20:7 does not describe a regularly called church service. The Bible says that Paul regularly worshiped on the Sabbath. (Acts 16:13; 17:2; 18:4; 19:8) Acts 20:7 is a farewell meeting, not a church service on a holy day. The meeting was held during Paul’s final hours in Troas because many of the believers suspected it could be the last time they would see Paul.
3. Is it possible that two meals and a farewell seminar in Troas makes Sunday a holy day? Does any man have the authority to cancel the law of God, the Ten Commandments? The Bible says that Paul left Troas at daylight (verse 11). He continued his journey on the first day of the week because Sunday was not a holy day in his mind.
The evidence in Acts 20 adds up to a simple conclusion: Paul and his traveling associates did not consider the first day of the week to be a holy day over fifteen years after Christ’s ascension.
4. Paul had Believers Bring Their Offerings on Sunday
Using Paul’s comments about collecting donations, Olson writes, "In 1 Corinthians 16:2, Paul instructed the believers in Corinth to bring their offerings to the Lord on the first day of the week, obviously because they were assembling together on that very day."
Olson’s assertion is not supported by the text. Here’s the text: “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.” (1 Corinthians 16:2)
Why did Paul make this request? Paul admonished the believers in Corinth to gather up whatever cash they could each week so that when he arrived, he could collect the cash and take it to the suffering saints in Jerusalem.
Paul made this request because barter was the nature and order of business in those days. Paul did not want two things to happen when he arrived. First, he could not sail to Jerusalem with donated animals and a few thousand pounds of material goods. Therefore, Paul wanted all donations to be converted into cash before he arrived.
Second, Paul did not want believers in Corinth to wait until he arrived and then rush out and foolishly convert their possessions into a lesser amount of cash because they were in a hurry to get cash. So, Paul wisely advised that believers start on Sunday of each week, which was regarded as a regular business day, to begin the process of converting their possessions into cash and at a good exchange rate.
Does Paul’s request to the believers in Corinth support Sunday worship or the holiness of Sunday? Not at all. In fact, Paul advocated taking care of business on Sunday, a regular workday.
5. People were Baptized at Pentecost on Sunday
The Bible indicates that 3,000 people were baptized at Pentecost. To Olson, this somehow makes Sunday a sacred day. Olson writes, “On this same day [Pentecost] the first message in the New Testament church was given (Acts 2:14), the first converts were added to the church, and the first believer’s baptisms took place (Acts 2:37).”
Baptizing people on Sunday, Tuesday, or Wednesday does not make the day holy. A prayer meeting does not make any day holy. Even if Jesus was baptized on Sunday, this would not make Sunday holy. As far as we can tell, John the Baptist baptized people every day of the week! (Mark 1)
6. Early Christians Did Not Change the Day of Worship to Sunday
Olson also recognizes there is some political history that influenced the observance of Sunday. Olson writes, “But Bible-believing Christians accept that the change from the Sabbath (Saturday) to Sunday as the Lord’s Day did not come by Constantine or through an edict from a group like the Council of Laodicea, which others attribute to the change."
Olson raises this argument because he knows that mere mortals cannot change what the Creator Himself has declared to be holy. Men may “think” they can change God’s set times and laws, but no created being has the authority to override Almighty God.
Catholics and most Protestants observe Sunday as a holy day, which means most Christians accept the holiness of Sunday without ever investigating how and why it came to be. There is not one text in the New Testament associating "the Lord's Day" with Sunday. However, there is one text that associates the Lord's day with the seventh day Sabbath and it is found in Mark 2:27,28: “And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.”
The Romans hated the Jews so much they finally destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The Romans also thought the followers of Christ were just another sect of Jews (Christ was a Jew), so early Christians sought to distance themselves from the Jews in various ways after the destruction of Jerusalem. One technique used was to call the seventh day "the Lord's day" rather than call it "the Sabbath."
The Romans called the seventh day “Saturday,” so Roman Christians did not want to call Saturday “the Sabbath” because it sounded too Jewish. When Christians in Rome finally broke away from observing the seventh day of the week (around A.D. 150), they applied the term, "the Lord's day" to Sunday, because they said, “Jesus came from the tomb on that day.”
However, a Bible believing Christian must ask, “Does the apostasy of early Christians in Rome affect the perpetuity of the Ten Commandments?” Did Israel's apostasy cancel the perpetuity of the fourth commandment? Not according to Jesus! (Mark 2:27,28)
7. Early Believers Met on Sunday
Olson writes, “In addition, the writings of early church fathers affirmed that believers were meeting on Sundays as the Lord’s Day – Barnabas, Justin Martyr, Didache, Ignatius, Dionysius, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian.”
During the past two hundred years, Protestants have used this argument as a smoke screen to hide many essential historical facts from sight, but the historical facts tell a very different story than what is claimed.
During the first century A.D., Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire because of relentless persecution. The Caesar’s intent was to wipe the Jews off the face of the Earth. Therefore, certain compromises and transformations were made by Jewish converts in different places for the sake of survival. About 120 years after Jesus ascended and 70 years after Jerusalem had been destroyed, Judaism’s influence over Christianity had faded. Meanwhile, a large number of Gentiles in Italy had become believers in Jesus.
As they “joined the church.” they brought with them their peculiar religious baggage. As a result, Christianity in Rome mutated into a Romanesque religion largely free of Jewish influence. By A.D. 150, Christians and believers in Mithra had found a number of areas where compromise and mutual respect were possible.
About this time, a well-educated man by the name of Justin Martyr became a Christian. As a Christian apologist, he tried to soften the hostility that existed between Romans and Christians and the followers of Mithra. One area of compromise concerned religious meetings. The followers of Mithra worshiped on Sunday (actually they partied on Sunday) because Sunday was the birthday of their god.
Christians in Rome, anxious to erase their Jewish identity, found a good reason to celebrate with the followers of Mithra on Sunday, since Jesus was resurrected on Sunday! Hence, Justin Martyr wrote:
“But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead.” (Justin Martyr, First Apology of Justin Martyr, Ante-Nicean Christian Library, (Boston 1887) p, 187 Chap 67)
The justification Martyr used for holding a common assembly on Sunday is interesting. First, he cited the separation of darkness and light on the first day of Creation as grounds for holding a common assembly, and then the resurrection of Jesus. Martyr offered no Scriptural authority for holding a common assembly on Sunday, but his remarks did suggest how wary Christians divorced themselves from their Jewish roots.
In those days, Christianity had no “central office” or headquarters and each geographical location adjusted their beliefs and doctrines as they chose. During the last part of the second century A.D., Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, became alarmed at a number of heresies that had infiltrated the Christian movement. He was aware of how the Christians in Rome had begun to meet on Sunday and abandon the seventh day Sabbath and he spoke out against it. He wrote:
“For He [Christ] did not make void, but fulfilled the law [Ten Commandments].” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Vol 1 Ante-Nicean Christian Library, (Boston, 1997) p, 471 insertions mine)
Tertullian, another early church father, wrote extensively concerning Christian doctrine. He, like Irenaeus, was alarmed at the practices of certain Christians, especially those who lived in Rome. In regard to the seventh day Sabbath he wrote:
“Thus Christ did not at all rescind the Sabbath. He kept the law [Ten Commandments] thereof. . . He restored to the Sabbath the works for were proper for it.” (Tertullian, Book IV, Chap 12, Vol 3 Ante-Nicean Christian Library, (Boston, 1997) p, 362 insertion mine)
Considerable discussion on Sunday observance took occurred in those early days. Archelaus, a bishop wrote in his disputation with Manes:
“Again as to the assertion that the [seventh day] Sabbath has been abolished we deny that He [Christ] has abolished it plainly. For He Himself was also Lord of the Sabbath.” (Archelaus, The Disputation with Manes, Vol 4 Ante-Nicean Christian Library, (Boston 1887), p, 217 insertions mine)
By A.D. 320, confusion and compromise had taken a heavy toll on early Christian doctrine. Christians had been scattered by persecution to every province throughout the Roman Empire. Christians in Alexandria, Egypt (the South) were beginning to defend views that were different from those in Rome (the North).
Church authority was discussed, debated, and argued. Most church leaders agreed that church doctrine needed to be more clearly defined and controlled, but who was going to be in control? Many questions and issues were raised for which there was little agreement.
Distance, culture, education, language, and social factors were beginning to define Christendom according to geography. Thoughtful men anticipated the result would be a highly fractured church. Christianity needed a strong leader and the emperor, Constantine, soon concluded he was it! He believed he had been divinely appointed to lead the universal Christian Church.
When Constantine ascended to the throne as sole ruler of the empire about A.D. 312, he had transformed himself into a Christian solely for political advantage. Constantine was cunning and he saw Christianity as a means of unifying the Roman Empire. When he endorsed the “Roman version” of Christianity, Constantine set a powerful sequence of events into motion that he could not begin to imagine. In future years, the church in Rome would eventually dominate Christianity.
I hope that this historical information will help you understand how Sunday observance began in Rome. The Romans were the first to merge Sunday observance into Christianity. Strange as it may seem, early advocates of Sunday observance never claimed or used divine authority for this action. In fact, the early Roman Christians did not consider Sunday labor as sinful or contrary to God’s will.
Of course, this attitude stands in stark contrast to the fourth commandment which forbids work on the “Jewish” Sabbath. Sunday in Rome had been regarded as a holiday long before Christianity arrived in Rome and merging the worship of Mithra and the worship of God on Sunday became a matter of convenience. Therefore, Sunday was not a day of rest or deep spiritual reflection when Christians adopted it as their day of worship.
When Constantine became “a defender of the faith,” he had his army baptized into Christianity by marching them through a river. To promote the universal acceptance of a day of rest, Constantine implemented a Sunday law in March, A.D. 321. This law was a clever compromise. Constantine patronized Christians and pagans alike by declaring a national day of rest.
The political benefit of this law was well received by all Romans. Constantine endorsed the desire of the Christian church in Rome by setting Sunday aside as a day of rest and this law also favored a large population in Rome who worshiped the pagan god of Mithra on Sunday. So, the Sunday law meshed with customary Roman practice and it aligned the desires of the church at Rome and everyone in Rome was quite happy with a national day of rest. Notice that the decree issued by Constantine does not mandate worship on Sunday:
“Let all judges and all city people and all tradesmen, rest upon the venerable day of the Sun. But let those dwelling in the country freely and with full liberty attend to the culture of their fields; since it frequently happens, that no other day is so fit for the sowing of grain, or the planting of vines; hence the favorable time should not be allowed to pass, lest the provision of heaven be lost.” (Cod. Justin, III Tit 12, L.3., March 7, A.D. 321)
Although Christians in Rome were already meeting on Sunday when Constantine sent out his decree, other Christians in other locations were not. Most Christians were still observing the seventh day Sabbath. Socrates writes near the turn of the fourth century:
“Such is the difference in the churches on the subject of fasts. Nor is there less variation in regard to religious assemblies. For although almost all churches through the world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the Sabbath of every week, yet the Christians of Rome and Alexandria have ceased to do this.” (Socrates, Ecclesiastical History, Book V, chap 22, Ante-Nicean Christian Library, Vol II, (Boston, 1887) p, 132)
Even Constantine's decree did not shut out the importance of the seventh day Sabbath. Something else would have to occur before that could be accomplished. The leaders from the church in Rome needed an elaborate doctrine that dealt directly with the issue of the “Lord's Day” to present a strong case before a divided body of Christians. Eusebius, another apologist of the era, was a Christian confidant and advisor of Constantine. He masterminded a doctrine for Sunday observance that remains largely intact today. Carefully notice his anti-Semitic argument for the observance of Sunday:
“Wherefore as they [the Jews] rejected it [the Sabbath law], the Word [Christ] by the new covenant, translated and transferred the feast of the Sabbath to the morning light, and gave us the symbol of true rest, viz., the saving Lord's day, the first [day] of light, in which the Savior of the world, after all his labors among men, obtained the victory over death, and passed the portals of heaven, having achieved a work superior to the six-days creation.
On this day, which is the first [day] of light and of the true Sun, we assemble, after an interval of six days, and celebrate holy and spiritual Sabbaths, even all nations redeemed by him throughout the world, and do those things according to the spiritual law, which were decreed for the priests to do on the Sabbath. And all things whatsoever that it was the duty to do on the Sabbath, these we have transferred to the Lord's day, as more appropriately belong to it, because it has a precedence and is first in rank, and more honorable than the Jewish Sabbath.
All things whatsoever that it was duty to do on the Sabbath, these we have transferred to the Lord's Day.” (Eusebius's Commentary on the Psalms 92, quoted in Coxe's Sabbath literature, Vol I, page 361 insertions mine)
Did you notice the last sentence in Eusebius’ argument?
Eusebius is the first man to claim in writing that Christ changed the day of worship. However, Eusebius then testifies that he (and others, namely Constantine) had “transferred all things, whatsoever that it was duty to do on the Sabbath” to Sunday. Also notice that Eusebius offered no Scriptural authority for this change. Further, no church father or authority from that time period seconded the claims of Eusebius and notice that Eusebius did not quote from any other source.
As it turned out, Eusebius took the thorny problem of worship in hand and became the father of a false doctrine which favored the apostate practice of the church in Rome. If a mortal can declare on his own authority that the law of the eternal Almighty God is null and void, the mortal is both delusional and evil.
Who has higher authority – God or man; the Creator or the created? It is my observation that corporately speaking, Christians have repeated the failure of the Jews. As a body we have dismissed and altered “thus saith the Lord.” If Jesus were on Earth today, He would say of Christians the same thing He said of the Jews, “They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'” (Matthew 15:9)
History and Logic Do Not Support Sunday Worship
We have examined seven arguments offered by Mr. Olson in the Baptist Bulletin. History and logic verify that none of the arguments are valid. When it comes to Sabbath versus Sunday, Christians face three general obstacles:
1. Christian Culture
Ever since the second century, apostate Christians have been advocating for Sunday worship. Today, 1.3 billion Catholics and Protestants worship on Sunday, carelessly regarding Sunday as “the Lord’s day” when there is no support for the sacredness of Sunday in Scripture or early church history. Going against the flow, Christian culture, and the wisdom of “the experts” who hold advanced degrees from seminaries is difficult for an ordinary person to do.
2. Lack of Education
Since Catholics and a large majority of Protestants worship on Sunday, very few Christians have a good reason to examine the roots of Sunday worship. Moreover, many people worshiping on Sunday do not regard Sunday as a “sacred day.” For them, Sunday is a day for going to church, but other than that, it is a day for recreation, working, or doing whatever a person wants to do. This disconnect between the sacredness of Sunday and worshiping on Sunday has created the following thought: “It doesn’t really matter which day of the week we worship on as long as we maintain a close relationship with the Lord.”
I would agree that one can (and should) worship the Lord every day of the week, but the requirement stated in the fourth commandment is altogether another matter. The fourth commandment demands that we cease from our labors and rest on the seventh day. God also commands that we include those who are within our gates. The fourth commandment is not about a weekly holiday, it is about spending time with God. Is God’s Sabbath a day of denial? See for yourself: “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." The mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 58:13,14)
Most of us who observe the seventh day as a holy day find it awkward and difficult to overcome Christian culture and heritage. When you add the pressure of social stigma and consequences that often come with being different (weird), some Christians think that it is best to leave the Sabbath question alone. It’s easier to go along with a world in rebellion than to be an outcast from your own family and/or church family.
3. Sinful nature
The biggest hurdle militating against obeying God’s law is our own sinful nature. We are naturally opposed to doing whatever God commands. Paul wrote, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.” (Romans 8:5-7, italics mine)
When these three obstacles are combined and if we go along with the seven superficial arguments Olson presented in the Baptist Bulletin, it becomes easy to see why Sunday remains a holy day for most Christians. For 20 centuries this rebellion has been ongoing – even though God clearly declares otherwise in the Ten Commandments.
If you have read this far and would like a free book titled, “Warning! Revelation is about to be fulfilled,” please go to Free Book on Revelation. (https://www.wake-up.org/free-book-offer-from-wuas/)
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Larry Wilson, founder of WUAS, became a “born again” Christian in 1972. His interest in the gospel has led him on a 40+ year quest to learn more about what God has revealed to Earth’s final generation. The results of his research have been shared all over the world in books, television & radio broadcasts, media interviews, and seminars that are publicly available on all different types of media (see our Christian Bookstore).
What is Wake Up America Seminars (WUAS)?
Wake Up America Seminars, Inc. is a nonprofit, nondenominational organization with a focus on the study of End-Time Prophecy. WUAS is not a church, nor does it endorse any denomination. Our focus is singular: We are dedicated to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ and His imminent return. We are delighted that people of all faiths are diligently using the Bible study materials produced by WUAS. All study materials are based solely on the Bible alone.
Latest posts by Larry W. Wilson (see all)
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- Is There Only One God? – Christians, Three Gods, and the Trinity (Part 1) - November 1, 2016
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