Marcusmaxis’s Blog

August 31, 2010

SABBATH DECEPTION

NO SABBATH    (Col 2:16 & Rom 14:5)

COLOSSIANS 2:16 ?

  Whenever the question of the Sabbath is discussed, those who
do not keep it holy will inevitably appeal to Colossians
2:16 as
their authority for disobeying the fourth commandment of God.
What exactly did Paul mean when he wrote:

        “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or
in respect of a holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath
days:”    Colossians
2:16

   Yes, when Paul said “Sabbath” he meant the seventh day
Sabbath – but that does not mean that Paul was canceling the
requirement for obedience to a commandment of God.  What God
has commanded only God can set aside.  One may search the New
Testament for a thousand years and he will not find a single
verse that says God has abrogated one “jot or tittle” of His
fourth commandment.

  What then was Paul talking about when he said to let no man judge you in respect of Sabbaths?  When we look at this verse in its context it soon becomes apparent that Paul was warning about the “Colossian Heresy” which was another gospel based on asceticism and the worship of angels in order to gain assistance from cosmic powers.  The essence of this heresy was that Christ alone was not sufficient to deliver us from our slavery to sin.

  As you will see from the following verses, Paul was warning
against three things that were being added to the gospel.

        1.  Traditions of men.

        2.  The worship of angels.

        3.  Submitting to doctrines of men.

COL 2:8  Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and
vain deceit, after the TRADITION OF MEN of men, after the
rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

COL 2:16  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:

COL 2:18  Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary
humility and WORSHIPING OF ANGELS, intruding into those
things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

COL 2:20  Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments
of the world,  why, as though living in the world, are ye
subject to ordinances,  (Touch not; taste not; handle not;
Which all are to perish with the using;) AFTER THE
 COMMANDMENTS
AND DOCTRINES OF MEN?

  It should be obvious that KEEPING THE SABBATH DAY HOLY
IS NOT A DOCTRINE OF MEN!

 Paul was not doing away with God’s commandment; he was warning against the false teachers who were saying that if believers did not eat and drink the right food and keep the festivals, new moons and Sabbaths ACCORDING TO CERTAIN HUMAN REGULATIONS they would lose their reward.

According to verse :23 below, they were teaching that without
these ascetic regulations one could not overcome the flesh:

COL 2:23  These [DOCTRINES OF MEN] have indeed an
appearance of wisdom in promoting rigor of devotion and self-
abasement and severity to the body, but they are of no value in
checking the indulgence of the flesh.  (RSV)

  One commentator summed up these verses by saying:

  “We conclude then that in verse :16, the warning is not
against the Sabbath, festivals and dietary laws as such, but
rather against those who promote these practices as
indispensable aids to Christian perfection and as needed
protection from the “elements [evil spiritual forces] of the
world” thus denying the all sufficiency of Christ.
                   (Samuele Bacchiocchi,  From Sabbath To Sunday)

Now really, doesn’t that explanation make a lot more sense than
the notion that Christians are no longer required to obey the
fourth commandment?   It is a true saying that: “The commandment
is not nullified by the condemnation of its abuse.”.

  The question we need to ask is this:  “Was Paul condemning the Sabbath day, or was he CONDEMNING THE DOCTRINES OF MEN who added ritualistic and ascetic restrictions to faith in Christ?”   In order to answer that dispute, one must look at the broad picture.  There is not a single verse in the New Testament which states that Paul taught a new doctrine that canceled the Sabbath commandment; nor is there any record of a controversy between the Jews and Gentile Christians over Sabbath-keeping.  If Paul had been teaching that the Sabbath commandment had been repealed, it would have split the church wide open and he would have had to answer the objections continuously in his epistles.

      Think about it – if the Jewish believers made such a fuss about circumcision being optional, imagine what they would have said about the Sabbath day being revoked.

   At some point we must use common sense and reason to interpret what has been written.  For example, does “Let no man judge you in meat and drink…” mean that Christians can be drunkards?  Of course not, because you know that God’s word forbids drunkenness.  Well, it also forbids Sabbath-breaking!

  It is only logical to assume that if God was going to cancel one of His commandments, he would make that fact very clear. Surely, if someone said to you: “Let no man judge you in respect of murder or adultery”  you would not assume that God had changed His mind about those sins without solid proof. Certainly, you would demand more evidence than one lonely verse in the book of Colossians?   Or would you?
 

          THE CHURCHMEN vs THE SABBATH    (Romans 14)

Many churchmen use Romans 14:5-6 as proof that New Testament
believers no longer have an obligation to keep the Sabbath day
holy.  So let us examine those two verses, just as a Judge
would consider evidence in his courtroom, and then decide
whether or not they testify against Sabbath keeping.  Paul
wrote:

     “One man esteemeth one day above another: another
      esteemeth every day alike.  Let very man be fully
      persuaded in his own mind.

      He that regardeth [observeth] the day regardeth it unto
      the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord
      he doth not regard it.  He that eateth, eateth to the
      Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not,
      to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.”

                                                Romans 14:5,6
 

   The Judge would ask: “Where is the Sabbath mentioned in
those verses?”.  The Sabbath is not mentioned there, or in the
entire book of Romans!  No court in the land would allow verses
that do not mention the Sabbath to be used as evidence in an
argument against the Sabbath – so why should we?

   You see, Paul could not have been talking about keeping the
Sabbath day holy because obedience to God’s law is not
optional.  It is ludicrous to suggest that any of the Ten
Commandments can be disobeyed “unto the Lord”.  Think of the
absurdity of saying “He that stealeth, to the Lord he stealeth;
and he that stealeth not, to the Lord he stealeth not.”

   What then was Paul talking about?  He was talking about fast
days.  The whole 14th chapter of Romans is about food and how
people’s beliefs about eating should not be interfered with.
The fast days could be observed according to each believer’s
conscience.  A man could eat -or not eat, keep the day – or not
keep it.  It is as simple as this: Each man could observe
FAST
DAYS, or not observe them, according to his own convictions.

   He that does not eat, regards the day.

   He that eats, does not regard the day.

   The “days” that Paul was referring to were the traditional
fast days mentioned in Zechariah 7:5-6.  The Gentile Christians
in
Rome did not keep them because they had no cultural interest
in the anniversary fasts that were observed during the Jew’s
captivity in
Babylon. 1

   Even the Jews themselves had different convictions about the
observance of those days – because those fasts were never
commanded by God.

   After the captivity (when the temple was being rebuilt) the
men of
Bethel also wondered if they should observe these fasts
unto the Lord.  For example, they asked Zechariah: “Shall I
weep in the fifth month and abstain, as I have done these many
years?” (Zech 7:2-3.)

   When you read Zechariah’s answer, notice the striking
similarity of his words with those of Paul to the church at
Rome

COMPARE   Zechariah 7:5-6 “…When ye FASTED and mourned in
the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years,

        DID YE AT ALL FAST UNTO ME, even to me [The Lord]?
          And when ye did
EAT, and when ye did drink, did ye
          not
EAT FOR YOURSELVES, and drink for yourselves?”

WITH

     Romans 14:6-7 “He that regardeth the [fast] day
          regardeth it UNTO THE LORD; and he that regardeth not
          the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.  He that
          EATETH, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks;
          and he that EATETH NOT, to the Lord he eateth not,
          and giveth God thanks.

          For none of us LIVETH TO HIMSELF, and no man dieth to
          himself.”

   If you were the Judge in the case of the CHURCHMEN VERSUS
THE SABBATH, would you be willing to say that Paul had cancelled
one of the commandments of God based on the evidence you find in
the 14th chapter of Romans?

   In our opinion, the evidence from Romans and Zechariah
demands a verdict for Sabbath observance.  The church must obey
the Fourth Commandment – that is the only decision that will
uphold the Law of God.

                      CASE CLOSED!

Footnote:

  These are the four traditional fasts that were mentioned
   in the book of Zechariah:

   1.  (The fast of the fourth month) In remembrance of the
         breaking of the wall of
Jerusalem.
   2.  (The fast of the fifth month)  In remembrance of the
         burning of the temple.
   3.  (The fast of the seventh month) In remembrance of the
         killing of Gedaliah, which completed the dispersion.
   4.  (The fast of the tenth month) In remembrance of the
        beginning of the siege of
Jerusalem.

   See – Jer 52:6, Jer 52:12-13, 2 Kings 25:25, 2 Kings 25:1

   It is of interest to note that those dates commemorate the
   judgments of God upon a people who refused to keep the
   Sabbath Day holy.  (See Jer 17:19-27)

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July 31, 2010

How The Sabbath Was Changed

How the Sabbath Was Changed
Studying the BibleToday I want to answer the question which so many listeners have been concerned about since our first broadcast on the Sabbath question. How did the change take place, substituting Sunday for Saturday as the day of worship? This is possibly one of the most disturbing religious questions among thinking Christians today. Unfortunately, the issue is not examined publicly very often for reasons that we’ll consider today. But multitudes have wondered when, how and why the change came about. We have established in previous broadcasts that the Bible itself speaks with absolute consistency on this subject.

No Change Documented in the Bible
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 to heaven. Yet no intimation of any change of the day is made. The apostle Paul, who wrote pages of counsel about lesser issues of Jewish and Gentile conflicts, had not one word to say about any controversy over the day of worship. Circumcision, foods offered to idols, and other Jewish customs were readily challenged by early Gentile Christians in the church, but the weightier matter of weekly worship never was an issue. Why? For the simple reason that no change was made from the historic seventh day of Old Testament times, and from creation itself. Had there been a switch from the Sabbath to the first day of the week, you can be sure the controversy would have been more explosive than any other to those Jewish Christians.

History Gives Some Clues
If the change did not take place in the Scriptures or through the influence of the apostles, when and how did it happen? In order to understand this, we must understand what happened in that early church soon after the apostles passed off the stage of action. Paul had prophesied that apostasy would take place soon after his departure. He said there would be a falling away from the truth. One doesn’t have to read very far in early church history to see just how that prophecy was fulfilled. Gnosticism began to rise up under the influence of philosophers who sought to reconcile Christianity with Paganism. At the same time, a strong anti-Jewish sentiment became more widespread. Very speculative interpretations began to appear regarding some of the great doctrines of Christ and the apostles.

The Conversion of Constantine
ConstantineBy the time Constantine was established as the emperor of Rome in the early fourth century, there was a decided division in the church as a result of all these factors. I think most of you know that Constantine was the first so-called Christian emperor of the Roman Empire. The story of his conversion has become very well known to students of ancient history. He was marching forth to fight the battle of Milvian Bridge when he had some kind of vision, and saw a flaming cross in the sky. Underneath the cross were the Latin words meaning “In this sign conquer.” Constantine took this as an omen that he should be a Christian, and his army as well. He declared all his pagan soldiers to be Christians, and became very zealous to build up the power and prestige of the church. Through his influence great blocks of pagans were taken into the Christian ranks. But, friends, they were still pagan at heart, and they brought in much of the paraphernalia of sun-worship to which they continued to be devoted. We mentioned in a previous broadcast about the adoption of Christmas and Easter into the church. At the same time, many other customs were Christianized and appropriated into the practice of the church as well.

Sun Worship
You see, at that time the cult of Mithraism or sun-worship was the official religion of the Roman Empire. It stood as the greatest competitor to the new Christian religion. It had its own organization, temples, priesthood, robes—everything. It also had an official worship day on which special homage was given to the sun. That day was called “The Venerable Day of the Sun.” It was the first day of the week, and from it we get our name Sunday. When Constantine pressed his pagan hordes into the church they were observing the day of the sun for their adoration of the sun god. It was their special holy day. In order to make it more convenient for them to make the change to the new religion, Constantine accepted their day of worship, Sunday, instead of the Christian Sabbath which had been observed by Jesus and His disciples. Remember that the way had been prepared for this already by the increasing anti-Jewish feelings against those who were accused of putting Jesus to death. Those feelings would naturally condition many Christians to swing away from something which was held religiously by the Jews. It is therefore easier to understand how the change was imposed on Christianity through a strong civil law issued by Constantine as the Emperor of Rome. The very wording of that law, by the way, can be found in any reliable encyclopedia. Those early Christians, feeling that the Jews should not be followed any more than necessary, were ready to swing away from the Sabbath which was kept by the Jews.

Historical Accounts
Some of you may be greatly surprised by the explanation I’ve just made, and I’m not going to ask you to believe it blindly. I have before me a multitude of authorities to verify what has been said. Here are historians, Catholics and Protestants, speaking in harmony about what actually took place in the fourth century. After Constantine made the initial pronouncement and legal decree about the change, the Catholic Church reinforced that act in one church council after another. For this reason, many, many official statements from Catholic sources are made, claiming that the church made the change from Saturday to Sunday. But before I read those statements I shall refer to one from the Encyclopedia Britannica under the article, Sunday. Notice: “It was Constantine who first made a law for the proper observance of Sunday and who appointed that it should be regularly celebrated throughout the Roman empire.” Now you can check these statements in your own encyclopedias or go to the library and look into other historical sources.

Here is a statement from Dr. Gilbert Murray, M.A., D.Litt., LLD, FBA, Professor of Greek at Oxford University, who certainly had no ax to grind concerning Christian thought on the Sabbath question. He wrote: “Now since Mithras was the sun, the Unconquered, and the sun was the Royal Star, the religion looked for a king whom it could serve as a representative of Mithras upon earth. The Roman Emperor seemed to be clearly indicated as the true king. In sharp contrast to Christianity, Mithraism recognized Caesar as the bearer of divine grace. It had so much acceptance that it was able to impose on the Christian world its own sun-day in place of the Sabbath; its sun’s birthday, the 25th of December, as the birthday of Jesus.” History of Christianity in the Light of Modern Knowledge.

Looking a bit further into historical statements, Dr. William Frederick says: “The Gentiles were an idolatrous people who worshipped the sun, and Sunday was their most sacred day. Now in order to reach the people in this new field, it seems but natural as well as necessary to make Sunday the rest day of the church. At this time it was necessary for the church to either adopt the Gentile’s day or else have the Gentiles change their day. To change the Gentiles day would have been an offense and stumbling block to them. The church could naturally reach them better by keeping their day.” There it is, friends, a clear explanation by Dr. Frederick as to how this change happened. Another statement very parallel to this one is found in the North British Review.

But let’s move on to a statement from the Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 153. “The church after changing the day of rest from the Jewish Sabbath or seventh-day of the week to the first, made the third commandment refer to Sunday as the day to be kept holy as the Lord’s day.”

Catholicism Takes Credit for the Change
St. Peter's Square and BasilicaNow a quote from the Catholic Press newspaper in Sidney, Australia. “Sunday is a Catholic institution and its claims to observance can be defended only on Catholic principles. From the beginning to end of Scripture there is not a single passage that warrants the transfer of weekly public worship from the last day of the week to the first.”

The Catholic Mirror of September 23, 1894, puts it this way: “The Catholic Church for over one thousand years before the existence of a Protestant by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday.”

To point up the claims we’re talking about, I want to read from two Catechisms. First, from the Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine by Reverend Peter Giermann. “Question: Which is the Sabbath day? Answer: Saturday is the Sabbath day. Question: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday? Answer: We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church in the Council of Laodicea transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.”

Second, from Reverend Steven Keenan’s Doctrinal Catechism we read this: “Question: Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept? Answer: Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her; she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day; a change for which there is no Scriptural authority.”

Then from Cardinal Gibbons’ book, The Question Box, p.179, “If the Bible is the only guide for the Christian, then the Seventh-day Adventist is right in observing Saturday with the Jew. Is it not strange that those who make the Bible their only teacher should inconsistently follow in this matter the tradition of the Catholic Church?”

One more statement taken from the book, The Faith of Millions, p. 473. “But since Saturday, not Sunday, is specified in the Bible, isn’t it curious that non-Catholics who profess to take their religion directly from the Bible and not from the Church, observe Sunday instead of Saturday? Yes, of course, it is inconsistency but this change was made about fifteen centuries before Protestantism was born, and by that time the custom was universally observed. They have continued the custom even though it rests upon the authority of the Catholic Church and not upon an explicit text from the Bible. That observance remains as a reminder of the Mother Church from which the non-Catholic sects broke away like a boy running away from home but still carrying in his pocket a picture of his mother or a lock of her hair.”

That is a most interesting statement, is it not, friends? And it is a very true statement. There is some inconsistency somewhere along the line, because we have examined the statements of history, and you can check them for yourself in any library. I’m not reading anything one-sided here at all. I’ve tried to give you an unbiased picture. Although we have seen the claims made by the Catholic Church in their publications, we are not reading them to cast any reflection upon anyone, by any means. We are simply bringing you a recital of what has been written and what claims have been made.

– From the Joe Crews Radio Sermon Library

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