Question / Comment - Seventh Day Adventism and the Sabbath

I have a friend who subscribes to this religion and am trying to explain to her that it's ok to celebrate "sabbath" on Sunday, yet she says that we are to follow the 10 Commandments of which Sabbath was one, and the Jews celebrated and still do on Saturday and so did the early church. I also explained that we are under grace, yes we still follow the commandments, but in early church history there was a separation between the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians and with the change in the calendar, Sunday was considered the end of the week (work week) or first day of the week (i.e. first fruits to God, I didnt tell her this example). I need more help as she still doesn't think its right.
 
Thank you.
 
JPN Reply:

Hi,

Thanks for your email. It is hard to say how far you will get with your friend as the question of the 'Sabbath' is obviously right at the heart of what Seventh Day Adventism is all about. With that said, we can but try!

Here are a few things for you to think about and look at yourself.

1. While God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, there is no command from God to do likewise until Israel, as a nation was taken out of Egypt (Ex 16). There is no record before this time of Abraham, or Noah or anyone else resting on the seventh day. The oldest book in the Bible is believed to be the book of Job, and again, there is no mention of a Sabbath or resting on the seventh day. This is quite telling as Job's "friends" accused him of sorts of things that he had supposedly done to bring about God's wrath and I'm sure that if the Sabbath was in force, he would have been accused of not keeping it. But there is no mention of it. I take from this then, that there wasn't a Sabbath in force until the time of Israel's exodus out of Egypt.

2. We know that God's covenant of the Law with the nation of Israel lasted until the New Covenant was introduced with the death of Jesus. As believers we are under the New Covenant, not the Mosaic Covenant, and again, it is very important to note that there is not one command from the death of Jesus onwards to keep the Sabbath. While the 10 commandments show the character of God, and most are repeated in the New Testament, the Sabbath command is not. It should also be pointed out that Paul calls the 10 commandments the 'ministry of death' and the 'ministry of condemnation' (2 Cor 3). It you put yourself under any part of the law of Moses then you have to observe the entire thing! You cannot just choose which parts to observe. That is why it is a ministry of death and a curse! (See Gal 3:10)

3. In fact, when the first Gentiles started getting saved, the Church had to hold an important meeting to discuss what exactly these gentiles needed to observe. Read about it in Acts 15. For the sake of keeping peace between Jews and Gentiles, some commands were given, but there is no mention of keeping a Sabbath day. This again is telling as these new gentiles converts would never had kept one day as holy before becoming Christians (as this command was only given to the nation of Israel) and the Apostles didn't burden these believers with this observance either.

4. Even more convincing, in my view, is the fact that there are actually warnings in the New Testament against Sabbath observance (especially it should be noted when the person observing the Sabbath is doing so as a type of works righteousness. Amongst these are:
Gal 4:9-10 which speaks against observing days and months etc
Col 2:16-17 shows that the Sabbath was only a shadow, a type, of what we have in Christ. And it says don't let anyone judge you regarding a Sabbath day (ie don't let anyone judge you for not keeping it because the actual reality of the rest which God wants us to enter is in Christ... not in observing one day) I will write more on this in point 5.
Rom 14:5 actually declares that each believer should determine in his own mind whether or not they will set aside one day over another, and that we are not to judge each other if we do this. The exception to this would be if someone was using Sabbath Keeping as a form of meriting favor with God. Then it becomes wrong.

5. Hebrews 4:1-13 shows that the true Sabbath for a believer is not one day a week, but is "Today". ie it is not a physical resting from work and activity on Saturday, but a spiritual resting from out own work and trusting in what Jesus has done, and who He is now for us! And that is everyday which is why Heb 4 emphasizes the word "Today". And that is the rest we need! That is why Col 2:16-17 said that the Sabbath was only "a shadow" of what was to come in Christ. It was an outward picture of the rest that we have in Christ.

6. Nor is there any command that makes Sunday the new "Sabbath". It is not. The seventh day is Saturday. Sunday is the first day of the week. We should not try to make Sunday the new Sabbath. The point is that the reality is in Christ... not in resting physically one day a week. If a believer decides to set aside one day a week to rest and seek God, then that is fine according to Rom 14 (as long as it is not seen as something that makes a person 'more holy') but it is not commanded.

7. It is true however that the Church in the New Testament met together on the first day, Sunday, which was called ‘The Lord’s day’. That is because this is the day that Jesus rose from the dead and brought in the New Creation! The Jewish observance of the Sabbath pointed back to God resting on the seventh day (ie it pointed back to the first creation.) The Church of the New Testament met on the Sunday, the first day, as this pointed to the resurrection and the New Creation! Note that it was on Sunday that:

Christ rose from the dead (Matt 28:1)
Paul and gentile believers met together to break bread and preach (ie have what we would call 'church') (Acts 20:7)
Paul instructed the Corinthians to put aside money to give to the Church (because that is when they met.) 1 Cor 16:1-2

8. Sunday, the first day of the week, became known as 'The Lord's Day" because of His resurrection on that day and the start of the new creation. This is what John called it in Rev 1:10. I have a copy of Walter Martin's "The Kingdom of the Cults" at my home and in that he has numerous quotes from the early church which show that they met on Sunday, the first day, not Saturday, and that they called it the Lord's day. These quotes are very early such as Ignatius (110 AD), Justin Martyr (100-165 AD), Irenaeus (around 178 AD) etc. The early church did not meet on Saturday as your friend said. It is true that Paul often went to the Synagogue on the Saturday to preach Christ, but this was to evangelize the Jews as they met on the Saturday.

Hopefully this gives you something to go on.

All the best and good luck!
The following is a comment from a Seventh Day Adventist after reading the above:

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Hi I've been a SDA all my life and I can't believe what your saying!

You posted
1. While God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, there is no command from God to do likewise until Israel, as a nation was taken out of Egypt (Ex 16). There is no record before this time of Abraham, or Noah or anyone else resting on the seventh day.

In Exodus 20:8 it says
8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

From Strong's it says
02142 rkz zakar zaw-kar'

a primitive root; v; {See TWOT on 551}

AV-remember 172, mention 21, remembrance 10, recorder 9, mindful 6, think 3, bring to remembrance 2, record 2, misc 8; 233

If God wanted the to remember from what source were they to remember? Apparently it was to be recalled from there past and God didn't want them to forget it. If God made a day Holy, and he is a God who never changes, don't you think that people would have been keeping the 7th Day Holy before the Children of Israel? I do!

In Rev 14:12 it says

12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

Strongs says 1785 entolh entole en-tol-ay'

from 1781; TDNT-2:545,234; n f

AV-commandment 69, precept 2; 71

1) an order, command, charge, precept, injunction

1a) that which is prescribed to one by reason of his office

What is God's office? He is our creator that is why we worship him.

So from the beginning the 7th day was holy and according to Rev 14:12 it still will be!

From Acts it says

Ac 17:2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
Ac 18:4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

Do you believe that this was just happen stance. I don't!

In 1 Cor 13:12 it says.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
JPN Reply:

Hi,
 
thanks for the email. I understand that as a SDA the Sabbath is obviously pretty central to your belief and why you would find it hard to accept something that doesn't line up with what you have been taught all your life. What I wrote however is not something strange but is a standard belief that mainline protestant churches see taught in the Bible. When reading the Bible we need to be very careful to see what it says without reading into the text our own thoughts or making assumptions from the text that are not actually there.
 
Concerning when the Sabbath was initiated:
 

·         While God blessed the 7th day of creation in Gen 2:2 there is no command given to Adam & Eve to perpetually keep this day as a special day or Sabbath.

·         There is no mention of a Sabbath at all in the entire book of Genesis

·         There is no mention of anyone before Moses and the nation of Israel keeping one day special. These are just the facts.

·         The ten commandments, including the Sabbath, Moses clearly says were not given to their forefathers in Deut 5:1-3

·         Scripture does tell us when the Sabbath started and was made known to the people and it is with Moses and the exodus. Neh 9:13 - "You came down on Mount Sinai; you spoke to them from heaven. You gave them regulations and laws that are just and right, and decrees and commands that are good. 14 You made known to them your holy Sabbath and gave them commands, decrees and laws through your servant Moses. "

·         The Sabbath was the sign of the Mosaic covenant. It had not been in force before this point.

·         To believe that people kept a Sabbath before the exodus is simply believing something that has no Biblical proof. If you have proof, point out where from the Bible.

 

Again, I understand that if you have always been taught differently by the Seventh Day Adventist church then this is hard to accept but please search the scriptures and look again why you believe as you do. And again, we need to read the Bible and see what it teaches, not what a denomination has taught.


There is a useful link here that may help in this regard:
http://en.allexperts.com/q/Seventh-Day-Adventists-2318/sabbath-start.htm
 
Concerning Rev 14:12
 
This has no mention or reference to the Sabbath in this verse. You have read into the verse what isn't there. Obviously God's people should endeavour to keep that which He has commanded us under the covenant in which we live. The Sabbath is never commanded upon any believer under the New Covenant. Nor have the Gentiles ever been under the Sabbath law at any time.
 
Concerning Acts 17 & 18
 
Yes, Paul frequently went to the synagogue on the Sabbath. This is not to fellowship as a church with believers! This was to go where non believers were to reason with them and give them the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it says clearly in the passage you have quoted to me (Acts 17:2). Paul himself explained why he did this when he said:
 
1 Cor 19:20 "To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law."
 
When the church met together to fellowship and break bread the scripture tells us that this was the 1st day of the week - Acts 20:7
 
Another site that I would like you to read is the site of Pastor J. Mark Martin. He is an ex-SDA pastor. I hope you don't mind reading someone that is no longer in the SDA denomination. But it can be useful to read someone who used to teach the SDA line and see why he no longer does. 
 
http://www.exadventist.com/Home/Sabbath/tabid/53/Default.aspx
 
In conclusion, I hope you are entering and living in God's true rest today. This rest is what the weekly Sabbath was a mere shadow of - that is, the spiritual rest that is in Christ (Col 2:16-17). That is how the New Testament quotes and uses Gen 2;2 in Heb 4 and that is what is truly important to God. This rest is 'Today' 'in Christ' as I wrote in point 5: 
 
5. Hebrews 4:1-13 shows that the true Sabbath for a believer is not one day a week, but is "Today". ie it is not a physical resting from work and activity on Saturday, but a spiritual resting from out own work and trusting in what Jesus has done, and who He is now for us! And that is everyday which is why Heb 4 emphasizes the word "Today". And that is the rest we need! That is why Col 2:16-17 said that the Sabbath was only "a shadow" of what was to come in Christ. It was an outward picture of the rest that we have in Christ.

 
 
All the best
 

A further comment from a different reader

Hello,

I am searching for the truth about Sabbath keeping and in reading your comments you mention Matt 28:1 as teaching Jesus rose on Sunday. This is wrong. If you read the whole passage, Matt. 28:1-7, it says (all emphasis mine):

1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.”

Also, John 20:1 says

“1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.”
This shows only that, of course, they waited until the Sabbath was over to go to the tomb.

In verses 2-4 it explains what had happened...

“2 There was [had been] a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. “

In verses 5-6 the angel tells the women that He had already risen before they arrived, which could have happened before sundown (on Saturday/Lord of the Sabbath), or after (Sunday/First Fruits) sundown.

“5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.”

You give Acts 20:7 as another reason, stating that they “had church” when in fact it states there had just been a feast and they were meeting for dinner (emphasis mine):

“6 But we sailed from Philippi after the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days. 7 On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.”

If we are not required to keep Sabbaths or feasts, why does he mention the Festival of Unleavened Bread? Making dinner and traveling were not allowed on the Sabbath, is this why they met on the first day of the week?

A previous mention of this same Festival, Acts 12:3 :

3 When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread.”

Another mention of a Feast day, Acts 27:9 :

“ 9 Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Day of Atonement.”

You also give 1 Cor 16:1-2 as a reason regarding the first day of the week saying “that is when they met”. This is also wrong.

He only tells the Corinthians that each person should set aside money on the first day of the week (so as not to break the Sabbath? as a first fruits offering?). Either way, it doesn’t say anything to the effect of when they meet:

“ 1 Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.”

They actually met on many days, Acts 2:46 :

“46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts...”

Jesus died on the Day of Preparation for the Feast of Unleavened Bread (a special Sabbath), which is the Passover. Of course, Jesus is our Passover Lamb:

“31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.”

In Acts 15:19-21, in response to whether Gentiles needed to be circumcised, it states that the law has been preached for so long on every Sabbath that, it seems, it therefore should be known by all:

19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

In Acts 21:18-26, Paul agrees to ceremonial cleansing ?? :

“18 The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. 19 Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23 so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. 24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.

25 As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”

26 The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.”

Verse 25 above refers to the only ceremonial laws required of Gentiles.

Although, Paul is then imprisoned and persecuted for turning new believers from the ‘laws and customs’ of the Jews, I believe these to also be the ceremonial laws.

I do believe, though, that Hebrews teaches that we enter the Sabbath rest when we believe in the finished work of Jesus and that “Today” is the day of salvation:

“1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,

“So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” 5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.” 6 Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, 7 God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.”

I would like any response you have to all this. Thank you!

JPN Reply:

Hi,

thanks for the email. Finally got some time to write some points in reply to your email. It is good that you are 'searching for the truth' concerning the Sabbath. Although reading your comments it seems that your mind is already made up. Just as observation... could be wrong! I've added some comments

Concerning your objection to Jesus rising on the Sunday:

You are correct that the passages quoted only tell us when Mary and the disciples got to and looked into the tomb. They don't tell us which day Jesus rose. But Mark does tell us when Jesus rose (and it is Sunday):

Mar 16:9
When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.

Concerning Acts 20:7 and related passages

Act 20:6 But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread,
and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days.
Act 20:7
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.

It says that the feast of Unleavened Bread was at least 5 days previous to the meeting of the disciples so I don't see your point there of trying to link the two. They are two separate events. And it doesn't say they were just meeting for dinner as you say. It says that the disciples were coming together to break bread (which is communion) on the Sunday. And Paul preached to them all evening until midnight. This is a meeting of the church!

As to your comments and references to 'feasts' in Acts, this is quite normal and to be expected. The early church was Jewish. They were witnessing to Jews. There is nothing wrong with observing a feast if you want to just as long as the person observing it realises that they are only participating in the 'shadow' not the reality. The reality is the spiritual truth 'in Christ'. But nor should you think that there is a command to have to participate in the feasts. When you read the epistles written to Gentiles (which I assume you are) you will see commands and warnings AGAINST thinking that these things must be observed. (Gal 4, Col 2).

Concerning the Acts 21 passage you mentioned, it is important to understand WHY Paul did this. You see, the freedom that Paul had 'in Christ' allowed him to be free from the Mosaic law and also free to be legal if necessary. And why would it be necessary? Because his overall goal was to WIN the Jews to Christ. So he was free to observe those laws if needed. Not because he was under law to have to do so. Far from it. But because in his freedom he chose to do that which would allow him to maintain a presence and witness among those that were Jews. Paul expressed this in 1 Cor 9:

1 Corinthians 9:18-22 What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ [21] without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel. (19)
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; (20) and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, [22] that I might win those who are under the law; (21) to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, [23] but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; (22) to the weak I became as [24] weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

Concerning 1 Cor 16 - you are correct that it doesn't say that the believers actually met on the first day of the week. But the command given by Paul to set aside money specifically on that day would be pointless if they weren't meeting until the next Saturday. It makes perfect sense if, as Acts 20:7 tells us, that that was when the disciples met together. It makes sense if they were going to meet on the Sunday so Paul told them to set aside money for the collection on that day.

You correctly mentioned that early on (Acts 2) the church met to break bread (communion and fellowship) every day. That is dead right. That too is part of the freedom we have. As it says in Romans 14 concerning this freedom:

Romans 14:4-6 Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. (5)
One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. (6) He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; [67] and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.

The freedom in Christ allows for each day to be alike. There doesn't have to be one special day a week. We should be in fellowship with the Lord and living in HIS rest every single day!

If interested, this article speaks about similar questions/answers to what you have written in about:
http://www.gotquestions.org/Saturday-Sunday.html

Also have a read here:
http://www.letusreason.org/7thad18.htm

This last link includes a few quotes amongst other things of the early church and shows that they met on Sunday and why (because that was the day Jesus rose from the dead):

Ignatius 110 A.D. wrote in his epistle to the Magnesians 9…" If they who were concerned in old things, arrived at a newness of hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living according to the Lord’s day, by which our life sprung from him and by his death (whom certain persons deny)…we have been made his disciples, let us live according to Christianity."

Barnabas 120A..D. "Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day, also, on which Jesus rose again from the dead"

Justin Martyr 140 A..D. "Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness, made the world; and Jesus Christ our saviour , on the same day rose from the dead."

Didache 80-90 A.D. "And on the day of our lords resurrection, which is the Lord’s day meet more diligently."

All the best.