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by Van Robison
It is presumed by many that the Sabbath was changed from Saturday to Sunday in the New Testament, but that is not true. The word “Sunday” cannot be found in the Bible, either Old or New Testaments. The phrase the first day of the week, found in perhaps eight different places in the New Testament, has nothing whatsoever to do with the first day of the week being the weekly “Sabbath.” Calling Sunday “the Lord’s day” as if Sunday is the weekly Sabbath, is purely a 100% man-made tradition. Any honest student of the Bible cannot possibly entertain “the first day of the week” which is Sunday on your calendar, as the weekly Sabbath. Even if it was customary to gather on “the first day of the week”, that did not make Sunday the Sabbath, and that is a preposterous assumption.
However, just like Sunday observance, Saturday observance is likewise a fallacy, because the one and only true Sabbath of Rest (Hebrews 4) is Jesus Christ, and not any day of the week. The Old Testament seventh day (Saturday) Sabbath was a shadow (meaning: pointing forward to a future reality, and which reality is Christ) of the real rest in Jesus Christ. As a former Saturday Sabbath keeper for about twelve years, I learned many years ago that neither Sunday or Saturday are significant days in the eyes of God, because Jesus Christ is the one and only source who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus never made such a statement as, “Your salvation depends on keeping the Saturday Sabbath or going to church on Sunday.” Jesus didn’t say that “For God so loved the world, that He gave us the seventh day Sabbath, that whosoever keeps the seventh day Sabbath, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” And yet that is essentially the belief of seventh day groups.
Many Sabbath groups inundate the Internet with tentacles extended, seeking to draw people into their false teachings. They associate keeping the Saturday Sabbath with salvation and eternal life, but any serious student of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the New Testament will never find that the forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the gift of eternal life are associated with the seventh day of the week; and for that matter, neither is “going to church” on Sunday associated with the forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the gift of eternal life. The things of God are only understood by the Spirit of God, and it is the natural mind of man that believes and teaches that legalistic observances are a necessary part of salvation.
The New Testament clearly states that “by the works of the law, shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:16). And again in Romans 3:20 “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight…” Colossians 2:16 (Amplified Bible) “Therefore let no one sit in judgment of you in matters of food and drink, or with regard to a feast day or a New Moon or a Sabbath. (17) Such [things] ARE ONLY THE SHADOW of things that are to come, and THEY HAVE ONLY A SYMBOLIC VALUE. But the reality … belongs to Christ.” And as it states in Hebrews 4, we enter into His rest. The book of Galatians has a great deal to say about the “law” of the Old Testament, such as 5:18: “But if you be led of the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Keeping the Sabbath, whether believers in Christ think the seventh day of the week, or the first day of the week, will merit righteousness and favor in God’s eyes, is to lack understanding of the purpose of Jesus Christ, and also to lack faith in Christ. Keeping and observing days is a reflection of faith in days, not in Christ.
Any student of the teachings, life and purpose of Jesus Christ will easily discover that neither Saturday or Sunday are “Holydays” in the New Testament era. And even though all seventh day groups believe that Jesus Christ did not abolish the law and the prophets, they are never able to see that He in fact FULFILLED the requirements of the law by His life and crucifixion. Seventh day groups always, always quote Matthew 5:17: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” And they are never able to understand what Jesus did to fulfill the law and the prophets. And verse 18 goes on to say, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” The key of course is the fact that Jesus “fulfilled”, and as He expired His last breath on the cross, He said “it is finished” (John 19:30). If the “law” has not been fulfilled by Jesus Christ, then not only would the seventh day Sabbath still apply to our lives, but so also would all the other hundreds of laws of the Old Testament; and that is an impossibility since the Old Testament Levitical priesthood has been replaced by the Priesthood of Jesus Christ (see the book of Hebrews). The key to understanding this verse, where Jesus said, “Think not, that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfill” is the fact that all the prophecies about the coming of the Messiah had to be fulfilled–Luke 24:44: “And He (Jesus) said unto them: These are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that ALL THINGS MUST BE FULFILLED, WHICH WERE WRITTEN IN THE LAW OF MOSES, and IN THE PROPHETS, and in the psalms, concerning Me (Messiah).” It is impossible to separate “the law” from “the prophets”, and proclaim that all the prophecies foretelling about the coming of the Messiah–Jesus Christ, are fulfilled, but the law is not. It is either both or none. And we absolutely know that all the prophecies foretelling the coming of the Messiah have been fulfilled, and so therefore, the law has also been fulfilled, and that means the Saturday Sabbath, which was only a “shadow” is now fulfilled in Christ, who is the true Rest.
Clearly if the Kingdom of God were attained by keeping the seventh day Sabbath or by going to church on Sunday, then Jesus Christ died in vain. All references about the apostle Paul teaching on the “Sabbath” in the book of Acts, have nothing to do with the the Sabbath being a “Holyday”, or binding on Gentiles or on Christians. Those references are just statements saying that “on the Sabbath, he taught”, but that does not make the Sabbath a binding law in the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul didn’t lack faith in Christ, because he taught on the Sabbath day; he taught on the Sabbath day because that is when people were gathered together in the synagogues; but he also taught anytime, anywhere, any day. Paul clearly understood that the “law” was fulfilled in Christ, and there was no obligation to observe the Sabbath as a weekly “Holyday.”
The hard truth is that Jesus Christ never said anything about “going to church”, and He never said anything about “Sunday” observance; so Christians who think that “resting” on Sunday will accrue brownie points in heaven, are very deluded. Sunday “go to church” and resting on Sunday (as if Sunday is the “Sabbath”), is nothing more than a religious custom that has absolutely no spiritual merit, and certainly is not validated in the New Testament. In fact, observing days in a ritualistic fashion is an assurance of a lack of understanding and faith in Jesus Christ. And since most all “Christian” pastors teach observing “Sunday” or “Saturday” as if they are sacred days, it means that almost all pastors are immature in their understanding about Jesus Christ. And to be blunt, it is a false Gospel. The New Testament is not about observing days as “Holy” days, but rather, it is about FAITH in Jesus Christ. Sunday and Saturday observance are fictional religious customs, not based upon truth in Jesus Christ in the New Testament era.
Is it then a sin to gather on Sunday or Saturday? No! And it is perfectly OK to fellowship on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday. For any preacher to teach that either Saturday or Sunday are “Holydays” and essential to salvation or faith in Jesus Christ, is very off base. To teach that Sunday is the Sabbath of rest, is a fable. Observing the seventh day of the week as a day of rest, only applied to Israel in the Old Testament and has never been a compulsory law to Christians in the New Testament era. If it were true that all Christians who do not observe the seventh day Sabbath of rest are sinners, then all non-seventh day believers in Christ would have no salvation. That belief by seventh day groups is a veil over their understanding about the Lamb of God–Jesus Christ. Observing days is nothing more than human works, but we cease from our own works in Christ (Hebrews 4:10). Without question, Sunday observance is a man-made tradition having nothing to do with faith in Jesus Christ.