The Christian Sabbath.
The Bible tells us that God sanctified the seventh day Sabbath as a day in remembrance that He is the Creator of Heaven and Earth. It says, Exodus 20:8-11 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work .
So if God ordained Sunset Friday to Sunset Saturday, the seventh day as the Sabbath, why do most Christians go to Church on Sunday?
Who changed the day to Sunday, and when? Did Jesus? Is it spoken of in the scriptures? Was there a new commandment written to amend the fourth commandment after Jesus died? Do we keep Sunday in honor of his resurrection?
It has been firmly established by numerous historians and theologians that the books of Matthew and Luke were written between 60 and 80 AD. This means that if the Sabbath had changed to Sunday after Jesus death, then it should have been recorded by these Bible writers. Instead though we see that rather than inform us of any change to the day, Luke instead he states in Luke 23:56, And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.
Jesus Himself in His prophecy about the destruction of the temple, which occurred in about 70 AD, when He was talking to His Disciples said Matthew 24:20, And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. This shows conclusively that Jesus knew that the Sabbath would still be in existence many years after the cross.
Historians also confirm that the seventh day Sabbath was kept by both Jews and Gentiles, until around 120 AD. At this time the persecution of the Jews became so great that many Christians in some areas decided to start keeping Sunday, so as to try to differentiate themselves from the Jews, who were still faithfully keeping the Sabbath of the Lord. Some Christians began to use the excuse that it was in honor of the resurrection, as there was no scriptural basis for this change. At that time Christians in areas outside the Roman empire continued to keep the true seventh day Sabbath of God.
In 321 A.D. Constantine, who was a pagan, became Caesar in Rome. As he began to see the balance of power shift from paganism to the Church he passed the first law enforcing Sunday worship in 321 AD. Sunday of course was the day that the pagans kept holy in their worship of the Sun god. Two years after passing this law Constantine joined the Roman Catholic Church and began mingling paganism with Christianity. The pagans were very involved with idolatry, so he took many of the statues of their gods and gave them Christian names, like St Peter and Mary. It was well after 400 AD before Sunday eventually took on the name of the Lords Day.
In many documents, papers and books written by the Roman Catholic Church, they openly take credit for moving the sanctity of the Seventh day Sabbath to Sunday, by their own authority, which they believe is above that of the scriptures. Here are some examples.
“Protestants…accept Sunday rather than Saturday as the day for public worship after the Catholic Church made the change…But the Protestant mind does not seem to realize that…In observing the Sunday, they are accepting the authority of the spokesman for the church, the Pope.” Our Sunday Visitor , February 15, 1950.
“From this we may understand how great is the authority of the church in interpreting or explaining to us the commandments of God – an authority which is acknowledged by the universal practice of the whole Christian world, even of those sects which profess to take the holy Scriptures as their sole rule of faith, since they observe as the day of rest not the seventh day of the week demanded by the Bible, but the first day. Which we know is to be kept holy, only from the tradition and teaching of the Catholic church.” Henry Gibson, Catechism Made Easy, # 2, 9th edition, vol. 1, p. 341-342.
“It was the Catholic church which…has transferred this rest to Sunday in remembrance of the resurrection of our Lord. Therefore the observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the (Catholic) church.” Monsignor Louis Segur, Plain Talk About the Protestantism of Today, p. 213.
“Sunday is our mark or authority…the church is above the Bible, and this transference of Sabbath observance is proof of that fact.” Catholic Record of London , Ontario, September 1, 1923.
The authority of the church could therefore not be bound to the authority of the Scriptures, because the Church had changed…the Sabbath into Sunday, not by command of Christ, but by its own authority. Canon and Tradition, p. 263.
So it seems that if Christians keep the Sabbath on the seventh day, we are following the commandment of God, but if we keep Sunday, we are following the traditions of man. Does that really matter?
The Bible says in Mark 7:6-9 Jesus answered them, How right Isaiah was when he prophesied about you! You are hypocrites, just as he wrote: These people, says God, honor me with their words, but their heart is really far away from me. It is no use for them to worship me, because they teach human rules as though they were my laws! You put aside God’s command and obey human teachings. And Jesus continued, You have a clever way of rejecting God’s law in order to uphold your own teaching.
It seems clear that Jesus wanted us to stand firm on the teachings of the scriptures, and not on any religious traditions instituted by man.
All Bible references are from the King James Version.