Victory Christian Tabernacle Church
Why Christians worship on Sunday instead of the Saturday (the old Sabbath)?
|Posted on March 10, 2018 at 7:05 AM|
Why Christians worship on Sunday instead of the Saturday (the old Sabbath)?
The Christian community as a whole does not keep the Sabbath because it was a part of the legal requirements of the Law, and according to the New Testament the Christian today is not under such legal requirements like circumcision, and Sabbath keeping, Instead, we are to produce the righteousness of the Law, the character of Christ, through the Spirit (see Rom. 6:14; 7:1-8:13; 2 Cor. 3:4-18; Gal. 3-5).
Of the ten commandments listed in Exodus 20:1-17, only 9 of them were restated in the New Testament. (Six in Matt. 19:18, murder, adultery, stealing, false witness, honor parents, and worshiping God; Rom. 13:9, coveting. Worshiping God properly covers the first three commandments) The one that was not reaffirmed was the one about the Sabbath. Instead, Jesus said that He is the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-8, Mark 2:23-28 and Luke 6:1-5).
According to Colossians 2:17, the Sabbath was "a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ." The Sabbath observance was associated with redemption in Deuteronomy 5:15 where Moses stated, "Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day." The Sabbath was a shadow of the redemption that would be provided in Christ. It symbolized the rest from our works and an entrance into the rest of God provided by His finished work.
While Jesus lived on earth, He kept the Law of Moses and taught others to do so. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-19. Please notice that Jesus said nothing would pass from the Law till all things be accomplished.
Jesus fulfilled all that was written in the Old Testament—the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets. And he said unto them, These are my words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me (Luke 24:44).
The purpose of the Law which was given to Israel at Mt. Sinai, the Law of Moses, is clearly seen in the book of Galatians. What then is the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise hath been made; and it was ordained through angels by the hand of a mediator (Galatians 3:19). The Law was to be in effect till the Seed should come. The promised Seed was Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15; 12:1-3; Galatians 3:16).
Please notice again, So that the law is become our tutor to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith is come, we are no longer under a tutor. (Galatians 3:24-25). If we are no longer under the Law of Moses, then obviously the Sabbath law is not binding upon us today.
When did the Law of Moses as a law binding upon God’s people end? The answer is, it ended when Jesus died on the cross thus fulfilling it. Please notice: But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in the flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace (Ephesians 2:13-15). Jesus abolished the law of commandments (the Law of Moses which included the command to keep the sabbath, Exodus 20: He abolished it in the flesh; that is by His death on the cross (Colossians 2:14-17).
In creation, God rested on the seventh day. But, since God is all-powerful, He doesn’t get tired. He doesn’t need to take a break and rest. So, why does it say that He rested? The reason is simple: Mark 2:27 says, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." In other words, God established the Sabbath as a rest for His people, not because He needed a break, but because we are mortal and need a time of rest, of focus on God. In this, our spirits and bodies are both renewed.
The OT system of Law required keeping the Sabbath as part of the overall moral, legal, and sacrificial system by which the Jewish people satisfied God’s requirements for behavior, government, and forgiveness of sins. The Sabbath was part of the Law in that sense. In order to "remain" in favor with God, you had to also keep the Sabbath. If it was not kept, then the person was in sin and would often be punished (Ezek. 18:4; Rom. 6:23; Deut. 13:1-9; Num. 35:31; Lev. 20:2, etc.).
God's intent for giving the Sabbath to Israel was not that they would remember creation, but that they would remember their Egyptian slavery and the Lord's deliverance. Note the requirements for Sabbath-keeping: A person placed under that Sabbath law could not leave his home on the Sabbath (Exodus 16:29), he could not build a fire (Exodus 35:3), and he could not cause anyone else to work (Deuteronomy 5:14). A person breaking the Sabbath law was to be put to death (Exodus 31:15; Numbers 15:32–35).
An examination of New Testament passages shows us four important points:
1) Whenever Christ appears in His resurrected form and the day is mentioned, it is always the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1, 9, 10; Mark 16:9; Luke 24:1, 13, 15; John 20:19, 26).
2) The only times the Sabbath is mentioned from Acts through Revelation, the occasion is Jewish evangelism, and the setting is usually a synagogue (Acts chapters 13–1). Paul wrote, “To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews” (1 Corinthians 9:20). Paul did not go to the synagogue to fellowship with and edify the saints, but to convict and save the lost.
3) After Paul states, “From now on I will go to the Gentiles” (Acts 18:6), the Sabbath is never again mentioned.
And 4) instead of suggesting adherence to the Sabbath day, the remainder of the New Testament implies the opposite (including the one exception to point 3, above, found in Colossians 2:16).
Looking more closely at point 4 above will reveal that there is no obligation for the New Testament believer to keep the Sabbath, and will also show that the idea of a Sunday “Christian Sabbath” is also unscriptural. As discussed above, there is one time the Sabbath is mentioned after Paul began to focus on the Gentiles, “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” (Colossians 2:16–17). The Jewish Sabbath was abolished at the cross where Christ “canceled the written code, with its regulations” (Colossians 2:14).
But with Jesus’ atonement, we no longer are required to keep the Law as a means for our justification. The requirements of the Law were fulfilled in Christ. We now have rest from the Law. We now have "Sabbath," continually.
Jesus always compared the Sabbath to ceremonial laws, not to moral laws. When his disciples were picking grain, he used the example of the showbread, and the work of the priests in the temple (Matt. 12:3-6). Those rituals were just as important as the Sabbath. He said that circumcision could be done on the Sabbath (John 7:22), which indicates that circumcision is more important law than the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a ritual law—it says that behavior that is perfectly good one day, is forbidden on another, simply because the earth has rotated. But true morality does not change from one day of the week to another. When ritual laws became obsolete when Jesus died, it should be no surprise that the ritual of the Sabbath also became obsolete.
Jesus said that daily chores could be done on the Sabbath (Luke 13:15). Even hard labor could be done in an emergency (Luke 14:5). He told a healed man to carry his sleeping mat, even though there was no hurry (John 5:1-14). He even used the word "work" to describe his activity (v. 17). Many Christians follow this example. They remember that Jesus consistently criticized the Sabbath rules of the Pharisees, and that he treated it as a ritual law.
Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man (Mark 2:27).
Circumcision was made for man, too. All of God’s laws, even the obsolete ones, were made for humans. The Sabbath law was made to benefit humans, to serve them, not become an unpleasant burden. Jesus said this to argue for liberty, not for making requirements. Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (Matt.12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5) he has authority over it, and he can set it aside if he wants to.
Further, there are no commandments or exhortations in the New Testament for us to keep the Sabbath. Rather, the early church gathered on the first day of the week in celebration and remembrance of the resurrection. This is evident throughout the book of Acts (also 1 Cor. 16:2 and Acts 20:7). Acts 20:7 is the clearest verse in the New Testament which indicates that Sunday was the normal meeting day of the apostolic church. Paul stayed in Troas for seven days (v. 6) and the church met on the first day of the week.
New Testament believers are not under the Old Testament Law (Rom. 6:14; Gal. 3:2425; 2 Cor. 3:7, 11, 13; Heb. 7:12). By His resurrection on the first day of the week (Matt. 28:1), His continued appearances on succeeding Sundays (John 20:26), and the descent of the Holy Spirit on Sunday (Acts 2:1), the early church was given the pattern of Sunday worship. This they did regularly (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2). Sunday worship was further hallowed by our Lord who appeared to John in that last great vision on "the Lord's day" (Rev. 1:10). It is for these reasons that Christians worship on Sunday, rather than on the Jewish Sabbath.
The Sabbath was given to Israel, not the church. The Sabbath is still Saturday, not Sunday, and has never been changed. But the Sabbath is part of the Old Testament Law, and Christians are free from the bondage of the Law (Galatians 4:1-26; Romans 6:14). Sabbath keeping is not required of the Christian—be it Saturday or Sunday. The first day of the week, Sunday, the Lord's Day (Revelation 1:10) celebrates the New Creation, with Christ as our resurrected Head. We are not obligated to follow the Mosaic Sabbath—resting, but are now free to follow the risen Christ—serving. The Apostle Paul said that each individual Christian should decide whether to observe a Sabbath rest, “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5). We are to worship God every day, not just on Saturday or Sunday.
It is true that the verse says God blessed and sanctified the seventh day. But does that prove that He bound the Sabbath on all people for all time? Where does the Bible say that all commands revealed in the book of Genesis are still binding? In fact, there are many commands we know are no longer binding, yet they were first given in Genesis. This includes animal sacrifices (Gen. 4:4; 8:20; etc.), circumcision (Gen. 17:9-14), and unclean animals (Gen. 7:2). We don’t stone adulterers, homosexuals, and rebellious children. Those things applied only to Israel as the theocratic people of God. Further, there is no real proof that God bound the Sabbath on men from creation. There is no passage mentioning Noah, Abraham, Jacob, or any of the patriarchs keeping the Sabbath. Ezek. 20:10-12 says God gave Israel the Sabbath as a sign between Him and them when He led them out of Egypt, and Deut. 5:15 says it was a memorial of that event (compare Neh. 9:13,14; Ex. 31:13-17). God bless!