By Brannon Howse
The Scripture: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
The Twist: People use this verse to argue that “we should be going to church on Saturday, the Sabbath, not Sunday. The Catholics are the ones who changed the calendar on us or changed the day we go to church. We are breaking one of the Ten Commandments when we go to church on Sunday.”
To begin with, let’s set the historical record straight. It wasn’t the Catholic Church that changed the day we attend church. The Catholic Church came about with the help of Constantine who came on the scene around 325. So, how can we say that the Catholic Church was responsible for switching the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday when Constantine didn’t come along until 300 years after the death of Christ?
The first time we see the day of worship changing from Saturday to Sunday is immediately after the resurrection of Jesus Christ—and we’re going to look at that—but did you know that of all the Ten Commandments, the only one not repeated in the New Testament is number four, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy”? Neither Jesus nor any of the New Testament writers mention it.
To explore this Sabbath scripture twist further, let’s look at Colossians 2:16: “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths.” Let no one judge you. If you want to go to church on Saturday, then you can go to church on Saturday. If you want to go to church on Sunday, then go to church on Sunday.
Now I believe, as we’re going to see, that Sunday is to be the Lord’s Day, but note first that it’s the Lord’s Day, not the Lord’s Hour. Isn’t it interesting that so many churches today have eliminated Sunday night services? On one of my radio programs, I spent an hour with one of my guests looking at why so many churches have ceased doing Sunday night services. This takes away from the whole day being the Lord’s.
People are quick to say, “We’ve got to get in an out; it’s an hour; let’s finish church because we’ve got sports to go to.” Sports and many other things we do are fine in proper perspective, but all of Sunday is the Lord’s Day, not just one hour in the morning.
But regarding “keeping the Sabbath,” Matthew 28:1 is also helpful. It says, “Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.” When did they come to the tomb of Jesus? Christ has been crucified and laid in the tomb. Some say it’s Wednesday, and some believe it’s Thursday—we won’t argue about that. It’s sufficient to say that he’s been laid in the tomb, and the two women arrived there on the first day of the week. We know this because the scripture says it was “after the Sabbath.” For first century Jews, this had to be Sunday, because Saturday was unquestionably the Sabbath. The passage also says “as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.” So we know they went to the tomb on Sunday.
For comparison, look at Luke 23:56: “Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath.” Here again the Sabbath is Saturday, “according to the commandment.” So Christ is in the tomb, they prepared spices and fragrant oils, and they rested on the Sabbath, according to the commandment. This shows that right up to the time Christ is put in the tomb, His followers are observing the Sabbath.
Another scripture in Luke is also helpful. Luke 24:1 says, “Now on the first day of the week”—that would be Sunday—“very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.” What do they find here? An empty tomb. Christ is risen (He’s risen indeed!). That’s why we go to church on Sunday and regard Sunday as the day of the Lord. The observance marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The apostles and other early Christians clearly honor this approach to Sunday. Acts 20:7, for instance, explains that “on the first day of the week”—Sunday—“when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.” What day is he preaching on? It’s Sunday.
Take a look also at 1 Corinthians 16:2. Here Paul says, “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.” Here he’s saying, “Store up your gifts for ministry.” Paul encourages collecting gifts for ministry—on Sunday.
Later in the New Testament, Revelation 1:9-10 offers a crystal clear reference to “the Lord’s Day”:
I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. [italics mine]
When was he seeing these things that God revealed to him? On the Lord’s Day, Sunday.
Some people will say, “Wait a minute, that is referring to the Day of the Lord—as in the when God intervenes in the affairs of men to bring judgment.” But they’re wrong. The original language makes this obvious. The phrase in Revelation 1:9-10 does not use the same string of words that would mean the Day of the Lord as outlined in Joel 2 and elsewhere. Revelation refers to the Lord’s Day, Sunday. This passage, in fact, is the main reason we call Sunday the Lord’s Day.
So, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re wrong to go to church on Sunday, that you go to church on Sunday merely because that’s what the Catholics set as their tradition, and that we shouldn’t be following the traditions of the Catholic Church. The observation of the Lord’s Day as Sunday—versus the Sabbath, Saturday—began immediately after the resurrection. It could even be argued that the very first Sunday church service was held by Jesus Christ as He preached to His followers after the resurrection.
We now go to church on Sunday—the Lord’s Day—because this is what we see the disciples and the New Testament apostles doing. They observe the day of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Hallelujah!
Copyright 2014 ©Brannon Howse. This content is for Situation Room members and is not to be duplicated in any form or uploaded to other websites without the express written permission of Brannon Howse or his legally authorized representative.