Doubtful Disputations Vol: 115 Issue: 15 Friday, April 15, 2011
I was reading through the private member’s only forum when I came across a post about Sunday worship. This is one of those non-issues that is an issue that still really isn’t an issue…and yet is.
Indeed for some, it is a point of doctrine that transcends almost everything else.
First, the post. OL (Omega Letter) members can read it in detail, but since it is in the private member’s forums, I’ll just hit the main points to set up today’s discussion.
A Christian who attends a Messianic Temple said that Sunday worship is rooted in anti-Semitism and Sunday worship is a display of anti-Semitism. This fellow is really persistent and the posting member wanted some input from the fellowship.
What intrigued me was the suggestion that Sunday worship was a display of anti-Semitism. That’s a pretty hefty accusation to hurl at somebody — especially a Christian who loves Israel.
There’s a children’s saying about “sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me.”
That’s true — if one is a liberal progressive. Name-calling is the preferred substitute for reasoned thought, particularly if reasoned thought puts you on the wrong side of your own debate.
That’s pretty much what is going on here. Sunday worship is no more an expression of anti-Semitism than it is the Mark of the Beast. (A core teaching of Seventh Day Adventists)
Another argument against Sunday worship is that the Sabbath was hijacked by the Roman Catholic Church. I found a fascinating website listing quotes from all kinds of famous churchmen presenting arguments favoring a Saturday Sabbath for Protestants.
Yet another argues that there is no Scriptural support for changing the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday.
“In both Old and New Testament there is not a shadow of variation in the doctrine of the Sabbath. The seventh day, Saturday, is the only day ever designated by the term Sabbath in the entire Bible. Not only was Jesus a perfect example in observing the weekly seventh-day Sabbath, but all His disciples followed the same pattern after Jesus had gone back to heaven. Yet no intimation of any change of the day is made.”
Other than those eight places, there isn’t hardly any intimation suggesting worship on the first day of the week at all.
So what does the Bible say about keeping the Sabbath Day?
“Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 31:15)
Well, ok then!
Most of these arguments end up like that. Everybody gets mad, they start pulling Scripture out of context — some folks will get downright dishonest in their efforts to convince you that they are right.
Sometimes it is over Sabbath Day worship. Sometimes it is the timing of the Rapture. Sometimes it is over the Tribulation. Or the Mark of the Beast. Or the antichrist.
One side or the other digs in on a point and the battle is joined. The point is almost always pointless and the battle is almost always nasty.
What does the Sabbath Day have to do with the Church? The Sabbath was appointed as a day of rest under the Law of Moses to set aside the Jews as a peculiar people unto Him.
“Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed.” (Exodus 31:16-17)
Let’s see. The children of Israel are to observe the Sabbath. It is a sign between God and the children of Israel. Are you of the children of Israel?
The Apostle Paul was not only an observant Jew – he was a Pharisee – a Jewish lawyer well acquainted with the intricacies of Jewish religious law.
The Apostle Paul was present, and some say, ordered the stoning of Stephen (the first believer martyred for his faith) for blasphemy. So as a Jew, Saul was pretty much a stickler for details like Sabbath worship. (Remember the penalty under Jewish law for breaking it.)
Upon his conversion, the Lord appointed him Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. When writing to new converts about details of Jewish law, such as the Sabbath, he had this to say:
“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days.” (Colossians 2:16)
Why would Paul write that if Sabbath-keeping was imposed on the Church?
And now to the main point: if Sabbath-keeping isn’t imposed on the Church, then what difference does it make what day Christians observe something that isn’t imposed on them in the first place?
These are all important issues for theologians seeking the deeper mysteries of God, but they fade to the point of irrelevant when weighed against the importance of understanding the mystery of salvation.
Those that argue such dogmatic issues as if they were matters of eternal life and death usually don’t usually have a firm handle on the most important doctrine of all.
The mystery of salvation is that we are not under the law. Not any part of it. We are not obliged to keep the Sabbath. We aren’t obliged to keep it on the seventh day. We aren’t even obliged to keep it on the first day of the week.
We will not be judged based on how well we honored our father and mother, whether or not we stole, took the Lord’s Name in vain, coveted our neighbor’s stuff, or even if we killed, lied or cheated.
We won’t be judged according to how well we understood the finer points of Scriptural doctrine. We won’t be judged according to how well we kept other believers in line doctrinally, or whether we believed the Rapture would happen before the Tribulation.
The mystery of salvation is that those who are washed in the Blood of the Lamb are judged according to the righteousness of Christ. The mystery of salvation is that we are judged based on our faith in that ONE thing alone. Trust.
“And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:21-22)
The mystery of salvation is that salvation comes by trusting that God has already saved you independent of yourself. That is the bedrock doctrine of salvation.
Not keeping the Sabbath. Not keeping the Law. Not by doing good works. Not some combination of doctrine, works, faith and understanding. NONE of those things can save you.
One can have faith in his doctrine, faith in his works, and faith in his understanding. But if one doesn’t trust that “what He has promised, He is able to perform” then there is no basis upon which for the Lord to impute righteousness.
Only the perfect righteousness of Christ is sufficient to stand before a Holy God. Anything I could add would only take away from that perfect righteousness. Now my righteousness is based on the perfect righteousness of Christ plus my imperfect efforts.
What happens when you add an imperfection to something that is perfect? Does the imperfection fade away? Or does it render the perfect imperfect?
The correct Sabbath Day ranks up there with the exact date of the Rapture in terms of relevance to one’s salvation or ability to preach the word.
Paul writes to the Romans; “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations” before offering an example of a “doubtful disputation”
“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. (Romans 14:1,5)
Is Sunday worship an act of antisemitism? The Mark of the Beast? Could this disputation be more doubtful?
I doubt it.