I have several godly friends who happen to be Seventh Day Adventist believers. We have in later days chosen to agree to disagree about certain Biblical doctrines (ahem). Obeying the command of Scripture I have, over the years, diligently tested their interpretations of Scripture with those of the historic Christian faith and most importantly, Scripture itself. Adventists are most passionate when it comes to their interpretation of Sabbath observance therefore I have focused my studies in this area. Volumes have been written on this very subject by men and women far more learned than the average “Joe”. Nonetheless, Scripture was written for all people. The Holy Spirit is ultimately the One who provides the interpretation and penetrates the heart of man by revealing the Father’s will. I happen to believe that this is a doctrine that does not bear on one’s salvation, though my Adventist brethren, if they were true to their Adventist heritage, would hastily disagree with me.
The following is a brief, introductory cross section of some of those “questionable” issues which can be used as a springboard for further conversation:
IS THE TEN COMMANDMENT LAW (containing the Sabbath) ETERNAL?
Scripture says the Law is not eternal. Galatians 3:19 gives the purpose of the Law. It says: “What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come.” Note that when Paul refers to the law he is referring to the whole law, not just parts of it (see Rom 5:12-14). I believe this was illustrated dramatically when Jesus gave up His ghost and the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom (Matt 27:51). The law was given 430 years after Abraham. “What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.” Galatians 3:17-18.
The Law had a definite beginning time (430 years after Abraham) and a definite ending time, –When the promised Seed (Christ, vs. 16) came.
Other Scriptures such as Romans 5:12-14 indicate that there can be sin in the world, even BEFORE the Law was given. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned — for until the Law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of Adam’s offense, who is a type of Him who was to come.”
CREATION & THE SABBATH: The Scriptures are very clear that the Sabbath of the fourth commandment was not given before Moses:
The Ten Commandments was not made with the fathers. Deuteronomy 5:2-3 says “The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, with all those of us alive here today.”
Nehemiah 9:13-14 says: “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. You made known to them your holy sabbath (when you came down on Mount Sinai) and gave them commands, decrees and laws through your servant Moses.” (NIV).
Though Genesis 2:1-3 says that after the Lord had ended all His work He rested on the seventh day and blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, there is not a word about it being given to Adam and Eve as a commandment. You don’t hear another word about the Sabbath in the entire book of Genesis. All fifty chapters are silent about the Sabbath You do not hear that the righteous Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob kept the Sabbath. There is a conspicuous silence for 2,500 years after the Fall of man. It is not until after the redemption of God’s people Israel out of Egypt when they are safely on the other side of the Red Sea that you read in the Book of Exodus that the Sabbath is mentioned again. (Exodus 16:22-30). Abraham was given commandments and ordinances, but the Sabbath is never mentioned as one of them.
The 7 post-resurrection appearances of Christ show that Jesus purposefully chose the first day of the week to meet with His disciples to encourage and exhort them. The evidence shows that five of these appearances occurred on a Sunday, the first day of the week. We do no have a record of what the actual day on which the other appearances (John 21 and Acts 1:6-10) occurred to His disciples. What we can say with accuracy is this, after Jesus’ resurrection whenever He met with His disciples and the day is identified, it is NOT the Sabbath, it is the first day of the week!
1). To Mary, On the morning of the resurrection – Matthew 28:8-10; Mark 16:9; John 20:11-18
2). To two disciples going to Emmaus – Luke 24:13-33; Mark 16:12-13
3). To Simon (Peter) – Luke 24:31-35.
4). To the eleven disciples on the evening of Resurrection Sunday – Mark 16:14-18;Luke 24:36-44; John 20:19-23
5). To the Eleven disciples “Eight days later” – John 20:26-29
Pentecost happened on the first day of the week! The Church was born on the first day of the week! That doesn’t make Sunday the Sabbath, it just tells you that after the resurrection of Jesus, the Sabbath is not emphasized. When a day is mentioned in connection with the appearances of the risen Lord Jesus, it is always the first day of the week. Look at the extremely important events that occurred in the life of the first followers of Christ on the first day of the week.1). Jesus startled them by appearing to them on the first day (John 20:19).2). Jesus received worship from Thomas (John 20:27-28).3). Sunday evening Jesus took bread and blessed it and broke it and gave it to His disciples evidently like He had in instituting the communion meal (Luke 22:19) and their “eyes were opened and they recognized Him” (Luke 24:31).4). Sunday evening Jesus blessed His disciples twice saying “Peace be with you” (John 20:20; 26).5). That same Sunday evening Jesus “…breathed on them and said, ‘receive the Holy Spirit'” John 20:22.6). On Sunday evening Jesus gave His disciples the ecclesiastical authority to proclaim forgiveness to those who believe in Him through the Gospel (John 20:23).
EVIDENCE THAT THE EARLY CHURCH WORSHIPPED ON SUNDAY FROM THE EARLY CHURCH FATHERS
THE EPISTLE OF BARNABAS about A.D. 100 – “Wherefore, also we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead.”
THE EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS – A.D. 107 – “Be not deceived with strange doctrines, nor with old fables, which are unprofitable. For if we still live according to the Jewish Law, we acknowledge that we have not received grace….If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and By His death.”
THE WRITINGS OF JUSTIN MARTYR: A.D. 145-150 – “And on the day called Sunday all who live in cities or in the country gather together in one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read….But Sunday is the day on which we all hold a common assembly, because it is the first day of the week on which God…made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead.”
APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS: Church life in the 2nd Century: – “On the day of the resurrection of the Lord–that is, the Lord’s Day–assemble yourself together without fail, giving thanks to God and praising Him for those mercies God has bestowed upon you through Christ.”
IRENEAEUS: A.D. 155-202 – “The Mystery of the Lord’s Resurrection may not be celebrated on any other day than the Lord’s Day, and on this alone should we observe the breaking off of the Paschal Feast.”
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