Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Is The Lord's Day Saturday or Sunday?

  • Introduction:
          -God had originally instituted Saturday as the Sabbath during the Old Testament so that His people could relax from physical labor and concentrate on worshiping Him. This prohibition of work on that day did not extend to service done for God, works of charity, or that which is necessary. Christians do not observe the Sabbath because they do not live under the Old Covenant.
          -The Sabbath was not introduced on the seventh day in which God "rested" from His creative work, but through Moses to the Israelites after their deliverance from Egypt (Exodus 20:11). Christians gathered on Sunday because Jesus Christ resurrected on that day. For instance, Acts 20:7-12 speaks of worship and the breaking of bread on the first day of the week.
  • Sabbath Worship Nowhere Mentioned In The New Testament:
          -The New Testament restates nine of the Ten Commandments. Worshiping God properly covers the first three. Six deal with proper conduct toward other people. However, the Sabbath is the missing one. Why? The reason is that Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8), and He is our rest (Hebrews 4)! The Sabbath rest of the Old Testament was only temporary, whereas the rest we have in Christ is of eternal value.
  • Are Christians Obligated To Observe The Sabbath?:
        -We have been given the liberty of choosing which days that we wish to celebrate in worship of God (Romans 14:1-12; Colossians 2:13-17). We should be glorifying our Creator daily, since He created time. On the other hand, this is not to be treated as mutually exclusive with assembling ourselves together for commual worship. Christians do not observe a "Christian Sabbath." Rather, we set aside a day to especially worship God.
  • What Is The Purpose Of Sunday Worship?:
          -The purpose of gathering on Sunday is to celebrate Jesus Christ's finished work on the cross. He resurrected bodily from the grave on that day. Furthermore, Jesus instructed us to use bread and wine (i.e. communion meal) as symbols to remember His body and shed blood (Matthew 26:26-28; Luke 22:18-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25). However, it is understandable if one cannot show up on that day due to a business schedule, health problems, or an emergency. Sunday worship is simply a respectable, apostolic tradition. It is not a dogma, but we still need each other (Hebrews 10:25). If the fact that the apostles gathered themselves together on Sunday to honor Christ means that we are allowed to do so only on that day, then does that mean that Christians can only celebrate communion in the evening, since the New Testament records the apostles doing so at that time?
  • How Often Should We Celebrate Communion?:
          -The New Testament does not identify a specific number of times or when Christians are to partake of the communion meal. Notice how the Apostle Paul recorded a statement of Jesus in 1 Corinthians 11:25: "Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." We can infer from those words that we have been given some degree of flexibility. The frequency of participating in the communion meal is not as important as our state of heart when we do it. We should observe the Lord's Supper often enough to make it a vital part of our ongoing worship services. To partake of the meal too frequently would be to reduce it to an empty ritual. To partake of communion in too seldom of a manner would cause people to forget the significance of Jesus Christ's work.

7 comments:

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Well done.

SDA is a cult so we really shouldn't care about what judgements they make.

Churches of Christ are cultic, so they need to learn not to offend other Christians in just about every legalistic teaching they profess!

The Men of Usury said...

I checked out the first two, when it comes to Sunday sabbath, it's traditional all the way back to the Didache, commanded, so we can act as if the extant of Christian practice and even somewhat binding command is in the New Testament, but it's not. The Christians celebrated Christs sacrifice on Sunday, and are told to do so in the early Christian church. That doesn't preclude further celebration, but it does speak to the specialness and importance of Sunday worship.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Christians celebrated the resurrection, not the Sabbath. Christians don't have the Sabbath.
https://watchmansbagpipes.blogspot.com/2010/05/are-christians-required-to-keep-sabbath.html

Jesse Albrecht said...

Hi Sean,

This article is concerned with how the New Testament presents the gathering of Christians for worship on Sunday, not the Didache or later sources. Those are beyond what I intended to cover here. If, however, you have any exegetical arguments to make on this subject, I would be interested in hearing what you have to say.

You are mistaken about the nature of historical methodology. It is never appropirate practice to take statements from later sources and treat them as representative of earlier time periods. We should start with the New Testament as our earliest source for doctrine and then move onward to evaluate what later writers taught.

If the New Testament does not tell us to gather on Sunday, then what real authority do we have to dogmatically impose the observance of that day on others? Statements by church fathers are subjective opinions without an objective standard to evaluate what they said on any given topic. They were not inspired by God like the apostles when writing.

One may personally believe that Sunday worship is special and important, but that does not mean it is something that God commanded us to do. The only thing that the New Testament exhorts us to do is to assemble ourselves together. It does not specify which day of the week that is to be done. Custom does not translate into dogma.

The Men of Usury said...

The didache was written earlier than the Gospel of John and before the New Testament was compiled. It is fair to look at later sources to see how people actually understood Christianity, especially when these later sources are actually earlier than when what you read as the Bible was compiled. "Later" sources can be excellent sources of what Christian practice and doctrine actually was, considering that the New Testament was not even completely written by the Didache's or circulated by even hundreds of years after that.
But "later" sources and the Church Fathers tell us what the Christians actually did. Isn't curious that you would call the Church fathers curious and disagree with them so often? You work by a maxim that they don't agree with. You say we must use the New Testament as the earliest source of doctrine. They didn't believe. And it is only with the privilege of historical hindset that you get to use this maxim now.
I will say that you are right. If the New Testament can stand completely alone without history, or tradition, context, or reaction, it doesn't explicitly command Sunday obligation. But the New Testament cannot and does not stand alone from space and time and humanity.
Protestant's working understanding of the New Testament is almost like what atheists like Nietzsche say about theists understanding of morality. They say we invented morality, but eventually enough time passed that we forgot that we invented it, so we then said it was always there given to us by God. I think this example is comparable to Protestant's working understanding of Scripture. Enough time lapsed that they forgot the Church's role with Scripture, and then just claimed that it always just was a rule and measure of doctrine. It always was just assembled, and the early Christians just read it and took their whole understanding of Christ and God from this nicely put together book. (Now notice that I put "working" understanding of scripture. Perhaps Protestants will admit to the Church's role, or acknowledge that the New Testament's current state is not what it was for the first 300 years, but they won't act like it).

Jesse Albrecht said...

Sean,

"The didache was written earlier than the Gospel of John and before the New Testament was compiled."

None of this has actually been set in stone. The Didache could have been written anywhere from the very end of the first century to the early second century. Further, the Gospel of John may have been written by 70 AD, which is earlier than the most conservative estimates for the dating of that anonymous treatise. Even if the Didache were written before the Gospel of John, it is still not an inspired document as are the writings of the New Testament.

"It is fair to look at later sources to see how people actually understood Christianity, especially when these later sources are actually earlier than when what you read as the Bible was compiled."

It is even fairer to look at what the writers of the New Testament said about Christianity and then compare those teachings to what extra-biblical sources said about that religion. You are highly focused on details that are not relevant and stating as proven fact assertions that are able to be challenged.

"Later sources can be excellent sources of what Christian practice and doctrine actually was, considering that the New Testament was not even completely written by the Didache's or circulated by even hundreds of years after that."

Even if that is true, you are making a mountain out of a molehill. Later sources can be interesting and insightful to read, but they are not the standard upon which our doctrine is based.

"But "later" sources and the Church Fathers tell us what the Christians actually did."

But they do not have the same authority as did Jesus or the apostles to tell us what we must believe or how to conduct ourselves in this life.

"Isn't curious that you would call the Church fathers curious and disagree with them so often?"

Why is it a "curious" thing to try to put the statements of such men into their proper place? Is it not a "curious" thing, that whenever Catholics are clallenged to defend their beliefs from Scripture, they routinely cite men who lived hundreds of years after the New Testament was written? Is not what you are doing called appealing to tradition, which is a logical fallacy?

"You work by a maxim that they don't agree with."

In all fairness, if one is going to disagree with patristic authors, he does have the burden of explaining why his position is correct or how that conclusion was reached. I do believe that I have successfully argued for my stance, and you offer no contrary evidence.

Jesse Albrecht said...

"And it is only with the privilege of historical hindset that you get to use this maxim now."

That is quite the whopper of an unsubstantiated assumption for you to make. How much do you want to bet on it?

"If the New Testament can stand completely alone without history, or tradition, context, or reaction, it doesn't explicitly command Sunday obligation."

The New Testament is history written down for us to read. It is apostolic tradition passed down to us in written form. How is reading the Bible through the lens of pagan philosophers working out for you?

"But the New Testament cannot and does not stand alone from space and time and humanity."

The New Testament can most definitely stand completely alone without man-made traditions and speculations of vain men.

"Protestant's working understanding of the New Testament is almost like what atheists like Nietzsche say about theists understanding of morality."

You are speaking facetiously, right?

"I think this example is comparable to Protestant's working understanding of Scripture."

Roman Catholic apologists constantly appeal to Scripture in exactly the same way as do "Protestants" when making arguments for their religious institution. Does this mean that their "working understanding" of the Bible is like Nietzsche?

"Enough time lapsed that they forgot the Church's role with Scripture, and then just claimed that it always just was a rule and measure of doctrine."

It is one thing to recognize the role that Rome has played in the preservation and trasmission of biblical texts, but another to say that it has been given authority by Christ over Scripture to make infallible pronouncments that are binding for all time on everybody else.

"It always was just assembled, and the early Christians just read it and took their whole understanding of Christ and God from this nicely put together book."

You are making a claim that no one here has made or believes in. You tout this distorted caricature in an effort to make your position appear more reasonable.

"Perhaps Protestants will admit to the Church's role, or acknowledge that the New Testament's current state is not what it was for the first 300 years, but they won't act like it."

The canonization of the New Testament is much more clear-cut than what you are wrongly making it out to be, but at the same time, it did not just fall from the sky. Get your facts straight before criticizing the positions of other people:

https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2017/02/did-catholic-church-give-us-bible.html

https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2018/08/basics-on-biblical-transmission-and.html