United Church of God (Seventh-Day Adventist, Portsmouth, Ohio)
Below is RT’s summary of a television transcript, including direct quotes. Participants are Steve Myers, Announcer, Darris McNeely, Gary Petty.
Steve Myers leads in with a series of questions, asking whether one can know if what is being taught by the various churches is the truth of God. “Do most churches really follow Jesus? How can you know whether the variety of teachings and customs faithfully represent the way Jesus taught and lived?”
Steve said the reason why division prevails among the church is because “only a weak understanding of what Jesus taught” is possessed by these churches that are divided. In observing this, a following question is asked, “Is any church just as good as another?” He answers this question with no, one church is not as good as another. Why is this the case, Because Jesus taught people must follow Him, not some teaching of a particular church. Referring to Matthew 7:21, “Christ Himself said: ‘Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). The application of this, as in Luke 9:23, is one must take up the cross of Jesus and follow Him.
All of this leads to a question whether one is following Jesus in keeping the Sabbath. Here is how this is approached. 1) if one does not follow God’s commands, the one who says he/she loves Jesus is a liar and does not in truth love or follow; 2) the Sabbath is one of God’s commands; 3) therefore if one does not follow (observe) the Sabbath, that one is a liar and does not love God. This argument is based on 1 John 2:4-6.
From this, the following remarks are made: “Did you know that you cannot find anywhere in the Bible that Sunday is the day of worship? Search the Old and even the New Testament and you’ll find the biblical Sabbath is not Sunday. History and Scripture show that the New Testament Church worshiped on the true Sabbath—Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. Shocking as it may be, most are surprised to realize there is no other day of worship mentioned from Genesis to Revelation.”
RT – This is simply false. Notice the Scripture: “And upon the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul discoursed with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and prolonged his speech until midnight” (Acts 20:7, ASV). What day of the week? The first day! Was it called “Sunday”? It was not called “Sunday” in the New Testament, but that particular name, moniker or nomenclature is of no substance because, in the Scripture, it was on the first day of the week the Christians came together. Just to support the point of this being false, note the following:
- The Expositor’s Greek Testament Commentary says: “We must remember that 1 Cor. had been previously written, and that the reference in 1 Cor. 16:2 to ‘the first day of the week’ for the collection of alms naturally connects itself with the statement here in proof that this day had been marked out by the Christian Church as a special day for public worship, and for ‘the breaking of the bread’.” (E-Sword).
- Robertson’s Word Pictures says, “Either the singular (Mar. 16:9) sabbatou or the plural sabbaton as here was used for the week (sabbath to sabbath). For the first time here we have services mentioned on the first day of the week though in 1Cor. 16:2 it is implied by the collections stored on that day. In Rev. 1:10 the Lord’s day seems to be the day of the week on which Jesus rose from the grave. Worship on the first day of the week instead of the seventh naturally arose in Gentile churches, though John 20:26 seems to mean that from the very start the disciples began to meet on the first (or eighth) day.
To support their point of Sabbath-keeping, five translations are used to show the rendering of Mark 2:27. These translations all speak to the point of fact that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath and the Sabbath was made for all people, not just the Jewish people. “It’s certain that Jesus taught that the Sabbath was not made for the Jews…It’s not an Old Covenant thing made just for Moses and the Israelites—it’s actually a New Covenant thing—established at creation and continuing as true worship in the New Testament Church.”
RT – Really? Notice what Scripture says:
“Six days shall work be done; but on the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD; whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel for ever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He ceased from work and rested.” (Exodus 31:15-17, Jewish Publication Society). Notice the following points:
1) The Lord said the command to observe the Sabbath was for the Israelites.
2) Those who work on the Sabbath are to be killed (that is, the death penalty is rendered for violating the Sabbath command).
3) It is a sign between the Lord and Israel, no one else. Moreover, with these words, the death penalty is applied if one does not observe. Will it be applied?
Tie this in with the words of Nehemiah, “You came down on Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven and gave them right rules and true laws, good statutes and commandments, and you made known to them your holy Sabbath and commanded them commandments and statutes and a law by Moses your servant” (9:13-14).
1) From Exodus, it is a sign to the Israelite people
2) In Nehemiah, it was made known unto them at Sinai.
3) Made known by Moses.
Before the words of Exodus 16 there are no exhortations to observe the Sabbath, not even at the time of creation!
Then they declare, “Even after the crucifixion the apostles and the New Testament Church continued to observe the seventh-day Sabbath from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset as the day of true worship.” RT – This is a lie; nothing in the pages of the New Testament teaches this is what they did. Neither is there any exhortation from any of the apostles this is what one should do! On the other hand, as one reads in Acts 20:7, they did meet on the first-day of the week to break bread, that is, to fellowship with the saints in the Lord’s Supper.
“Nowhere in the Bible can you find the Sabbath changed to some other day. Imagine if it were changed, there would have been a huge discussion on it, and recorded for us—especially in the New Testament.” RT – No, one can’t find “The Sabbath has been changed to the first-day of the week” in Scripture. Nevertheless, one can find where the disciples did worship on the first day of the week (as mentioned above), led by apostolic authority. Moreover, to the saints in Corinth, Paul said they were to lay aside on the first day of the week, each week, every week that which the Lord prospered them. Why the first day? Because it was the day when the saints would gather together to worship the Lord. Thus, at best the remark is misleading; at worse, it is plain deceptive. The assumption there would have been a “huge discussion” if it were to have taken place is nothing but presumptive.
There is then a brief discussion concerning what people think relative to the Lord nailing the Sabbath on the cross. “Now there are multitudes who have been told and who honestly believe, that worshipping on the seventh-day Sabbath was abolished at the cross.” To address this perspective, they reply the Lord has a day, that day is the Sabbath day, and this was instituted at the time of creation. Confidently they assert the Lord’s day is not Sunday. This is maintained because of the 4th commandment in the Decalogue, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy”. Moreover, it is declared that God is the same today, yesterday and forever (Heb. 13:8). Therefore, since the Lord does not change, then He did not change His day from the seventh to the first. “To claim to be Christian means we must follow Christ. To follow Jesus means we must observe the Sabbath!”
RT – This speaks much of their failing to understand Scripture. There are two points worth notice from Ephesians and Colossians. “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace” (Ephesians 2:14-15, ESV). The context of Paul’s words is the relationship between Jews and Gentiles. What separated them was the law of commandments God gave the Israelite people at Mount Sinai, otherwise known as the Law of Moses. According to Paul’s words in Ephesians, the Lord nailed that teaching to the cross, thereby removing the wall that separated the two peoples from spiritual fellowship. How do I know this is the context? Paul said it is it in 2:11-13.
Again, “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:11-14). The initiation into the old Covenant was for the male via circumcision; this is no longer the case since Jesus was nailed to the cross taking the “hand-writing requirements” (NKJV) with him. As Albert Barnes said, “The word rendered handwriting means something written by the hand, a manuscript; and here, probably, the writings of the Mosaic law, or the law appointing many ordinances or observances in religion” (E-Sword).
If Hebrews 13:8 is applied, as they apply it, then the Lord’s directive of animal sacrifices given in Leviticus still is authoritative for Christians today, as is circumcision for the males at eight-days of age. If they say a portion of the Law of Moses has been nailed to the cross, let them declare what portion that is.
At this point, two others participate in the discussion (Darris McNeely and Gary Petty). Darris said since the Sabbath day was at the point of creation, “Sabbath has been in effect since creation.” By this he means that Sabbath day observance goes back to the time of creation. Gary supports this thinking when he says the “Sabbath is for all humanity, not just Jews, for all humanity. You put those two things together and it is obvious the Sabbath was created for everyone, and it hasn’t been done away.” Steve then gives his support to this also.
R T – What can be said about the Lord resting on the seventh day, after six days of creative work (since this is relative to the conversation of sabbath day observance)? This is all that can be said, nothing more. And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it he rested from all his work which God had created and made (Genesis 2:2-3). God finished His work in six days; He rested on the seventh day; God blessed the seventh day, that is, He made it holy. From this man draws what? There is no decree from the Lord that man is to observe and rest. A person can reasonably draw a conclusion that one should emulate the Father in heaven and thereby rest on the seventh day. But there is nothing from the Lord that speaks to this being a matter of obligation. The first obligation set forth by the Lord does not take place until Exodus 16, to Moses and the children of Israel.
Also, was it not the case the apostles took on the authority of the Lord when they preached the Gospel message to the lost in the world (1 Cor. 14:37)? If that is the case, and they worshiped on the first day of the week, then they established the pattern of worship in a New Testament context. The alternative is they disobeyed the Father of glories by not observing the Sabbath.
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Sent to the television program on 7.20.2018