With God, Adam and Eve explored their paradise home. The scenery was breathtaking, beyond description. As the sun slowly set on that Friday, the sixth day of Creation, and the stars began to appear, “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). This God finished His creation of “the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them (Gen. 2:1)
But as beautiful as was the world He had just completed, the greatest gift God could give to the newly created couple was the privilege of a personal relationship with Him. So He gave them the Sabbath, a day of special blessing, fellowship, and communion with their Creator.
The Sabbath is central to our worship of God. The memorial of Creation, it reveals the reason why God is to be worshiped: He is the Creator, and we are His creatures. “The Sabbath, therefore, lies at the very foundation of divine worship, for it teaches this great truth in the most impressive manner, and no other institution does this. The true ground of divine worship, not of that on the seventh day merely, but to all worship, is found in the distinction between the Creator and His creatures. This great fact can never become obsolete, and must never be forgotten.” It was to keep this truth forever before the human race that God instituted the Sabbath.
The Sabbath comes to us from a sinless world. It is God’s special gift, enabling the human race to experience the reality of heaven on earth. Three distinct divine acts established the Sabbath:
(1)God rested on the Sabbath. On the seventh day God rested and was refreshed (Ex. 31:17), yet He did not rest because He needed it (Isaiah 40:28). The verb “rested,” shabath, means literally “to cease” from labor or activity (cf. Gen. 8:22). ”God rest was the result of neither exhaustion nor fatigue, but a cessation from previous occupation.” God rested because He expected humans to rest; He set the example for human beings to follow (Ex. 20:11).
If God finished the Creation on the sixth day, what does Scripture mean when it says that He “ended His work” on the seventh day (Gen. 2:2)? God had finished the creation of the heavens and the earth in those six days, but He had yet to make the Sabbath. It was by resting on the Sabbath that He made it. The Sabbath was His finishing touch, ending His work.
(2)God blessed the Sabbath. God not only made the Sabbath, He blessed it. “The blessing on the seventh day implied that it was thereby declared to be a special object of divine favor and a day that would bring blessing to His creatures.
(3)God Sanctified the Sabbath. To sanctify something means to make it sacred or holy, or to set it apart as holy and for holy use; to consecrate it. People, places (such as a sanctuary, temple, or church), and time (holy days) can be sanctified. The fact that God sanctified the seventh day means that this day is holy, that He set it apart for the lofty purpose of enriching the divine-human relationship.
God blessed and sanctified the seventh day Sabbath because He rested on this day from all His works. He blessed and sanctified it for humanity, not for Himself. It is His personal presence that brings to the Sabbath God’s blessing and sanctification.
The Sabbath at Sinai. The events following the Israelites’ departure from Egypt show that they had largely lost sight of the Sabbath. The rigorous requirements of slavery seem to have made Sabbath observance very difficult. Soon after they gained their freedom, God strongly reminded them, through the miracle of the manna and the proclamation of the Ten Commandments, of their obligation to observe the seventh-day Sabbath.
The Meaning of the Sabbath. The Sabbath has broad significance and is filled with deep and rich spirituality.
(1)A Personal memorial of Creation. As we have seen, the fundamental significance the Ten Commandments attach to the Sabbath is that it memorializes the creation of the world (Ex. 20:11-12). The command to observe the seventh days as the Sabbath is “linked inseparably to the act of Creation, the institution of the Sabbath and the command to observe it being a direct consequence of the act of Creation. Furthermore, the entire human family owes its existence to the divine act of Creation thus memorialized; accordingly, the obligation to comply with the Sabbath command as a memorial of the creative power of God devolves upon the entire human race. Strong calls the Sabbath “a perpetual obligation as God’s appointed memorial of His creating activity.”
Those who observe it as a memorial of Creation would be doing so a grateful acknowledgement “that God was their rightful Sovereign; that they were the work of His hands, and the subjects of His authority. Thus the institution was wholly commemorative, and given to all mankind. There was nothing in it shadowy, or of restricted application to any people.” And as long as we worship God because He is our Creator, so long will the Sabbath function as the sign and memorial of Creation.
(2)A symbol of redemption. When God delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt, the Sabbath, which was already the memorial of Creation, became a memorial of deliverance as well (Deut.5:15). “The Lord intended that the weekly Sabbath rest, if properly observed, would constantly release man from the bondage if an Egypt not limited to country or century but which included every land and every age. Man today needs escape from bondage that comes from greediness, from gain and power, from social inequality, and from sin and selfishness.”
It is when we view the cross that the Sabbath rest stands out as a special symbol of redemption. “It is the memorial of the exodus from the bondage of sin under the leadership of Emmanuel. The greatest burden we carry is the guilt of our disobedience. The Sabbath rest, by pointing back to Christ’s rest in the tomb, the rest of victory over sin, offers to the Christian a tangible opportunity to accept and experience Christ’s forgiveness, peace, and rest.”
(3)A sign of sanctification. The Sabbath is a sign of God’s transforming power, a sign of holiness of sanctification. The Lord declared, “Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you” (Ex. 31:13; Ezekiel 20:20). The Sabbath, therefore, also is a sign of God as the Sanctifier. As people are sanctified by Christ’s blood (Heb. 13:12), the Sabbath is also a sign of the believer’s acceptance of His blood for the forgiveness of sins.
(4)A sign of loyalty. As Adam and Eve’s loyalty was tested by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil placed in the midst of the garden of Eden, so every human being’s loyalty to God will be tested by the Sabbath command placed in the midst of the Decalogue.
(5)A time of fellowship. God created the animals to be humanity’s companions (Gen. 1:24-25). And for a higher level of companionship God gave the man and woman to each other (Gen. 2:18-25). But in the Sabbath God gave humanity a gift offering the highest form of companionship – companionship with Him. Human beings were not made just to associate with the animals, nor even with each other humans. They were made for God.
The arrival of the Sabbath, however, brings hope, joy, meaning, and courage. It provides time to commune with God through worship, prayer, song, the study of and meditation on the Word, and through sharing the gospel with others. The Sabbath is our opportunity to experience God’s presence.
Now that we have acquired some insight that the Sabbath Day was changed. I think it is just as important that we understand who changed the Sabbath Day and why. Many people use Colossians 2:14, “Blotting out the hand writing of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” not knowing that Moses wrote six hundred thirteen (613) ritual laws that no one could fulfill. So Jesus nailed them to the Cross, moving them out of the way.
WHO CHANGED THE SABBATH?
Knowing that the Sabbath was changed, we come face to face with the question. What do we do about it; do we follow those who say it does not make any difference which day we observe as long as we keep one day? If that statement is true, who shall we obey God or human tradition? God had a special reason at creation for asking us to observe the seventh day. (Gen. 2:1-3) Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished; and on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it (set it apart from all other days), because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. Also, in Exodus 20:8-11; “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work; you, nor you son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hollowed (sanctified) it.” God rested on the Sabbath, he established it as a memorial of his creative power, a holy day, as a time for us and families to come closer to Him for strength and refreshment. To get us into the habit of taking some time out to remember He is God who causes us to breath, move and have our being.
Some say they keep every day holy, but the fact is, God has still made one day, the seventh day of the week holy. A time to come near to Him in an unique way. He blessed that with His special presence, He asked us to devote the whole day with Him. There is no support for Sunday observance in the Bible. So this issue is plain, but does it make a difference? Well the choice is clear, follow the teaching of man or the command of God. The word of man or the word of God. A human substitute or a divine command.
The prophet Daniel (7:25), He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and laws. Then the saints shall be given into his hand. For a time and times and half a time. Jesus and His disciples kept the Sabbath. Jesus knew He was going away, He commanded His disciples to remember to keep the Sabbath day. Only after the last apostle died, on March 7, 321 AD, Constantine the Great issued the first civil Sunday law, compelling the people, except farmers in the Roman Empire, to rest on Sunday. This and five other civil laws decreed by Constantine, it set the legal legislation precedent for all civilization from 321 AD time until now. In 325 AD, Constantine arranged, what is called, the Council of Nicea. This Council determined what was approved church doctrine and what was heresy among many of their decrees. At this time, it was their decision to change the custom of Christian celebration. Exodus 12:14, and this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever. Lev.23:3, six days shall work be done; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, a holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
The Passover on the fourteenth day of the Hebrew month Nisan was changed. In the fourth century the Council of Laodicea prohibited Christians from abstaining from work on the Sabbath, it urged them to honor Sunday worship. History shows that Sunday observance is a man-made convention. The Bible gives no authority for doing away with the seventh day Sabbath of the fourth commandment. In the Old Testament as stated, the prophet Daniel predicted that during the Christian Era, a deceptive power would attempt to change God’s law.
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“The Roman Church has totally apotheosized the fourth commandment by doing away with the Sabbath of God.”
Dr. N. Summerbell, a historian of disciples of Christ or Christian Church
“The festival of Sunday like all other festivals was always only a human ordinance, and it was far from the attentions of the apostles, a divine command in this respect, far from them, and from the apostolic church to transfer the Law of the Sabbath to Sunday. The Sabbath started on Friday at sundown until Saturday sundown.”
A True History of the Christians and the Christian Church
The Bible is full of healing miracles of Jesus, purposefully performed on the Sabbath. The leaders in Jesus day was always accusing Him of breaking Moses law, not God’s law, but Moses law. Moses wrote 613 ritual laws, those were the laws that Colossians 2:14-15 spoke of that Jesus nailed to the Cross, not the Ten Commandments. Is murder still wrong? Stealing, Adultery? So if the nine commandments are still right, why not the fourth commandment? The laws of the land are based upon nine of these commandments. Now since we all know from Scripture that one day there will be no more sickness, hunger, or tears, could it be God has provided this one day in His rest (Menuhah) as a brief glimpse or a taste of what is to come to all of us through Jesus. The Sabbath is not a day of legalism, but a gift from God, a day He has blessed. Now that you know the truth, what are you going to do about it? It is now on you.
The Holy Bible - King James Version Old & New Testament Quotes
Excerpts from “Loose Them and Let Them Go” – A Biblical Exposition Book of Fundamental Doctrines – by Bishop Artie Thompson, Jr., Ph.D.
The Faith of Our Fathers (pp. 89) – by James Cardinal Gibbons
The Augsburg Confession, article, paragraph 9 (pp. 28) – Reads: The Roman Catholics alleged the Sabbath change into Sunday.
Martin Luther, Founder of the Lutheran Church
Methodist Theologians – Amos Binney & Daniel Steele – observed that it is true. There is no positive command for keeping holy the first day of the week. (Sunday)
BAPTISM – SPRINKLING OR IMMERSION
Jesus, He will not let you down. Study for yourself, you will never be the same. Matthew 3:13-17; then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him, but John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. That is to say, the right way of doing baptism. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: And lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
The Bible is clear on the importance and true meaning concerning baptism. Let’s look at a recorded conversation that Jesus had with one of the rulers of the Jews by the name of Nicodemus. John 3:3-6; Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (Nicodemus, if you remember, was the community leader that came to Him at night. Nicodemus, I believe was real surprised when Jesus spoke these words to him). Being born of the spirit signifies starting a new life, a change of heart and mind. Water baptism is the outward sign of an inward change that the Holy Spirit has begun a transformation of one’s character. 1 Corinthians 10:1-2; Moreover brother, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud; all passed through the sea; all were baptized unto Moses in the cloud. Otherwise, everything they received came by way of Moses.
So our salvation today revolves around three things that Jesus did. According to Scripture – I Corinthians 15:3-4; For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. Romans 6:3-4; Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death; that’s like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the Glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Baptism is the outward sign in which Christians show their appreciation in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. The physical act of baptism graphically represents the steps of conversion. First, we are lowered into the water, immersed completely. Just as people who die are lowered into the grave and covered. This act is an indication that we have died with Christ and have buried our old lifestyle. Baptism is a funeral, a formal farewell to an existence in which sin dominated and being lifted up out of the water by the one baptizing you. Just like a person being resurrected from the grave. Only immersion can accurately illustrate the true meaning of baptism. Sprinkling does not adequately symbolize the new birth.
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Romans 6:6
Galatians 2:20; I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. By allowing John to immerse Him in the Jordan River, Jesus set a positive example. Jesus identified with weak sinful human beings and He took all the steps we needed to take.
2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that, For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
Anyone who competes as an athlete, will not receive the victor’s crown unless they compete according to the rules. When we comprehend the true meaning of baptism, there is little difficulty understanding the authentic form of baptism. The very word baptize comes from the Greek word baptismo, which means to dip or immerse. (To put under).
In 1737, during John Wesley’s visit to America, a church jury of thirty four men tried him on the strange charge of refusing to baptize a Mr. Parker’s child, except by dipping. The record of the trial appears in the court proceedings of the state of Georgia. It’s evident, the father of Methodism baptize his converts by immersion. The history of the early church makes it very clear that baptism meant immersion to them.
Statements by the Ante-Nicene Fathers, (vol. VII, page 379 and vol. III page 94), shows that the church immersed baptismal candidates in the second and third centuries. Baptistries and immersing converts appear in many of the churches which were built between the fourth and fourteenth centuries in Europe and Asia. The reformer John Calvin stated, “The very word baptism signifies to immerse”, and it is certain that immersion was the practice of the ancient church. Dean Stanley, one of the most scholarly writers of the church of England, declared that for the first thirteen centuries, the almost universal practice of baptism was that of which we read in the New Testament. Which is the very meaning of the word baptize, that those who were baptized were plunged, submerged, immersed into the water. AGAIN, THE GREEK WORD – “baptizh” – “baptisia” – “baptisis” – MEANS A DIPPING UNDER OR SUBMERGING UNDER).
Churches like the Cathedral in Pisa, Italy and St. John’s, the second largest church in Rome, testify to the truthfulness of the above statements. The Cathedral in Frejus, France, has a well preserved baptistery that was built and used in the fifth century. The ruins of a second century church in Ephesus, in Asia Minor, also contain a baptistery for immersing candidates. It was not until the Council of Ravenna early in the fifteenth century that the Catholic Church accepted sprinkling as equally valid with immersion, we are not to follow the doctrines that man teaches. Colossians 2:8; Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Baptism served a very specific function in the New Testament. The Bible makes it clear that a person must be taught the way of salvation before baptism. Matthew 24:14 & Matthew 28:19 states that a person must believe in Jesus before being baptized (Acts 8:37) and that a person must repent of sin and be forgiven before being baptized (Acts 2:38). A baby is incapable of believing and of repentance and confession, all of which must precede baptism. Jesus told Nicodemus, “No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the spirit.” (John 3:5) Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. (Mark 16:16) I am sure that God has made a way for a baby or small child because of their innocence in nature.
HARVEST OUTREACH MINISTRY
BIBLE INSTITUTE OF CHARLOTTE NC