Saturday, August 5, 2017

Which Day?

You may have noticed that we haven't been posting much lately. Everyone is so very busy! I haven't had any time at all to sit down and do the writing that I enjoy. Martha has a busy schedule as well, and finds plenty enough to keep her occupied just in daily life. Good thing we have guest authors! Child Survivor wrote a post for us a few months back and liked contributing so much that he's back for another go. We're always happy to hear from our readers.


WHICH DAY???

On social media, in this case Facebook, I keep reading posts by Adventists and previously by the few remaining followers of Herbert W. Armstrong that accuse anyone who doesn't observe their version of “sabbath law” of being “followers of the pope”, “Babylonians”, “lawless”, and “commandment breakers”.  As a “child survivor” of Herbert Armstrong's cult, the Worldwide Church of God, granddaughter cult of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, I will continue to tackle this subject until I know I need to move on.  But regarding some of these accusations from sabbath keepers,  that we are essentially “Commandment breakers” meaning you couldn't possibly love Jesus if you don't “keep His commandments”,  keeping His commandments is ALWAYS about keeping the sabbath.  And I would remind everyone that Jesus never once instructed sabbath keeping, but that's an argument for another day.  My favorite accusation, however, is that those of us who attend church on Sunday are actually “worshiping the sun” or “following the pope”.  That is what I wish to zero in on with this post.  Does the day you congregate on in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord REALLY make a difference with God?  What was the practice of the early church? Did the early Christians keep the sabbath as modern Adventists claim, did they keep Sunday, or were days of the week a non-issue with them? Does the preaching of the word, prayers, singing, and mutual edification Christians experience all go straight out the window because of the day of the week they're doing it?  Let's look deeper.

First thing I wish to start with is a humorous but also sad illustration.  When I was 12 I remember watching the original airing of an “All in the Family” episode. (I'm 53 to save you from having to do that math).  This episode involved Archie's desire to see his newborn grandson, Joey, get baptized.  When he approaches his daughter, Gloria, about it, he begins by reminding her how religious her mother is and that she prays “every day, even when it ain't Sunday, when the Lord ain't listening”.  That remark brought quite the laughter from the studio audience.  While I believe it was intended as humor toward Archie's ignorance and not an attack on religious people, it reminds me of the mentality that is very much alive in sabbath keeping circles that God only acknowledges corporate worship on Saturday.  It brings me to ask this question that I have asked again and again and again and have never once received a straight answer from Adventists, Armstrongists, or any other sabbatarian....

IS THERE ANY SCRIPTURAL PROHIBITION AGAINST CONGREGATING IN THE NAME OF JESUS ON ANY PARTICULAR DAY OF THE WEEK????

Before I dive into the scriptures, I just beg you to consider the accusation of “sun worship” simply because the day of the week is called “Sunday”.  One person recently told me that's how Sunday started as worship of the sun.  So that makes any religious gatherings “sun worship” simply because allegedly thousands of years ago, extinct religions supposedly worshiped the sun on that day, makes ANY gathering guilty of the same thing?  Are we to assume “once pagan, always pagan”?  If so, then why isn't the same applied to Saturday which was supposedly the day the god Saturn was worshiped?  Why is that day immune from leftover pagan influences of literally thousands of years ago?  I also wish to let you know that I have been attending Protestant worship services almost every Sunday since my conversion from sabbatarianism to Christianity in 1980.  A typical Protestant service involves singing praise to God with either traditional hymns or contemporary songs (which by the way modern Adventists and Church of God Seventh Day congregations use with extreme liberality), prayers offered, offering taken, reading of scripture, a message or sermon from scripture, and either on a monthly or weekly basis, communion.   In the typical Catholic mass you have songs sung, much, and I mean much scripture read from the pulpit, prayers offered for those in need and for the world around them, usually some sort of message, much liturgy which is usually directly from scripture, and communion.  Again, in both cases, does all this count for nothing more than pagan worship simply because of the day of the week it falls on?  Especially since Adventist services have so many similarities with Protestant services? 

One question I have asked on occasion and only got a response once, was “what if I rest and read scripture on Saturday, but attend a Baptist worship service on Sunday morning, is THAT ok?” The only one who ever responded to that was a pompous Armstrongist who began by saying “while I have ISSUES with Baptists, I guess that's ok”.  Really?  But at least she answered me.  I've also asked the question about Catholics and Evangelicals who are in and out of church before sunset on Saturday, if THEY kept the sabbath?  Only one answered me with “it depends”.  Ok.  But if it is not assumed that if these people who attend church on Saturday at 4pm are not keeping the sabbath, why has it been universally assumed by these people that Paul was “keeping the sabbath” in Acts 13 and 17 simply because he was in a JEWISH gathering on a particular sabbath?  And I would add that these passages simply say what he did on those days, they NEVER tell us that Paul KEPT the entire day, or any part the day at all.  He was just in a place where Jews were gathered to bring the gospel of the Messiah to them.   If being in the synagogue on the sabbath meant Paul and the early believers “kept the sabbath”, then you have to grant the same credit to Christians today who go to Saturday evening services of their “Sunday keeping churches”.  But you never do, ever.  So to be at all credible with your beliefs you either have to drop the argument from Paul's so-called “example” or grant the same credit to millions of Catholics and some Protestants around the globe who are doing what you claim Paul was doing. 

Now let's look at the scriptures.  I think everyone reading this KNOWS that there is NO prohibition against gathering to worship collectively on ANY given day in scripture, but most sabbatarians will never admit it.  But the fact that you know is good for enough for me to continue at this point.  Again, with scripture we begin with the birth of the church from Acts 2:

“Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all in one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat on each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”  vs 1-4

Now you see, the Holy Spirit came in power on Pentecost.  When was Pentecost?  THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK!  Armstrongists would argue for holy day keeping here, but the fact remains, this miraculous event empowering the followers of Jesus and saving 3,000 souls (read the rest of the chapter for that) COULD have happened on the weekly sabbath, it would have set a precedent...but it DIDN'T.  It happened on what we refer to today as SUNDAY!!!  Is this significant?  New Beginning?  First fruits?  Our Lord's Resurrection?  Take your pick! 

Now if you keep reading in Acts 2, you will see what the practice of the early believers was starting in verse 46 “So continuing DAILY in one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor  with all the people.  And the Lord added DAILY those who were being saved”.  Vs 46 & 47

Do you see the word DAILY here?  It doesn't say “weekly” or “from sabbath to sabbath”.  It clearly does not distinguish any day from another.  The church met as often as they could and that would have definitely included what we now call Sunday and yes, Saturday as well.  But days are not emphasized or distinguished, at least not anywhere near to the point that Adventists do.

Another passage from Acts that sabbath keepers absolutely love to rip apart is..from Acts 20 verse 7 “Now on the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight”.  WHOA, He preached until midnight?  No wonder poor Eutychus dozed off!  But attention spans were longer then. But that's beside the point.  But do you see?  Breaking of bread (Lord's supper) and preaching, all on the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK.  This is a Christian gathering and no pope was around to bless it, and it was 300 years before Constantine.  So not only did the early Christians meet daily, but the first day of the week had a special significance and it's recorded in scripture!

Further on in the New Testament we have from 1 Corinthians  16:1&2 “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come”   I have read sabbatarians refute the notion that this is promoting meeting on the first day of the week by insisting Paul was telling people to start storing up their offerings on the first day of the week so at the sabbath they would collect it.  Problem being, that's not what he writes.  He tells us that this is the “collection”, not individual storing up.  He's also addressing Christians collectively, not individually...”given orders to the churches..”.  While Paul does say “each one”, the context is still a collective instruction to a group.  The exact procedure here is a bit fuzzy if you ask me, but we are dealing with a culture from 2,000 years ago.  But either way, it goes without saying, the first day of the week is associated as set apart and for an act of Christian worship..offerings.

To sum up, I am not advocating the notion that the sabbath was changed to Sunday.  The sabbath, like the rest of the law was nailed to the cross , Eph 2:15 & Col 2:14-17.  Christians are not obligated to keep any day holy.  Christians have traditionally assembled on Sunday, the first day of the week to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.  It has traditionally been a “celebration”, not an “obligation”.  Can you understand the difference?  While I do acknowledge that some Christians have applied the 4th commandment to Sunday, I believe they have done so in error.  The Catholic church made every Sunday a “holy day of obligation”, but that simply means they are required to attend mass on that day, not keep it as a “day of rest”.  I also know that some fundamentalist Christians over the last 100 years have erroneously put strict requirements of “keeping the sabbath” meaning Sunday.  While I believe their motives are arguably well-intentioned, their methods in both cases have been misguided, just as I believe modern sabbatarians are misguided about their  understanding of the sabbath, law, grace, and salvation in general.

I pray that this will not fall on deaf ears.  I so hope you can come to grapple with the following realities..

1.  There is NO PROHIBITION against congregating any day of the week in scripture.

2.  There is no command to keep the sabbath ANYWHERE in the New Testament

3.  Scripture does not have the early church meeting exclusively on ANY day of the week.

4.  There is no mention of the early Christians keeping or meeting on the sabbath.

5.  And finally, keeping ANY DAY will never save you nor help you STAY saved.  Salvation is a gift from God completely unmerited for all of us have sinned and fall short of God's glory.   Rom. 3:23

However, if you can show me any scripture at all that answers my original question, which I will repeat for those of you with short memories...

            WHERE IS THE SCRIPTURAL PROHIBITION AGAINST CHRISTIAN ASSEMBLY
            ON ANY PARTICULAR DAY OF THE WEEK?

And I would like to add, quotes from Ellen G. White or Herbert W. Armstrong do NOT count as scripture.

Thank you to all of you Christians and sabbatarians alike for reading this post.  May God enlighten us all with His perfect revelation.


God bless!


Child Survivor, thanks for contributing. Hopefully this provokes some thoughts.

And, hey .. if anyone wants to post a guest article, just reach out. We're always willing to at least consider your piece.

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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )
Acts 17:11
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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I completely agree there is no prohibition to meeting and worshipping on non-sabbath days and to do so would be looked down upon by the COGs at least. Yet, I don't think you gave fair shrift to the 7th day sabbath. It simply would have been a greater issue than circumcision and much would have been made about it if it had been changed/removed. There is ample proof that Paul and others met on the Sabbath. The COGs have damaged much and how the sabbath is observed and the purpose for it, but I believe it is still in effect. It is just not the great measuring tool determining whether someone is a Christian or not.

Ekklesia said...

Don't you think you might be a bit heavy handed with the analysis trying to show sabbath observance is done away? I disagree with the way the COGs have treated the sabbath and made it the most important part of one's faith, but I still think the Bible supports the Sabbath. There is no way that a change as large as that would not be documented at least as much as the issue of circumcision. Besides they did continue in meeting on sabbath and Jewish Christians would have been saying much if the sabbath was being ignored. the sabbath was made for man though.I observe it, but do not identify with it. I am a Christian first.