Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Christian's Sabbath: The First Day of the Week

As I have said before, I have friends who are Seventh-Day Adventists, so I have been challenged on the issue of the Sabbath. Is it still seventh-day, as they assert? Or, has it been moved to the first day since the Resurrection, as most Christians would say? (I am not here dealing with those who follow a dispensationalist hermeneutic, concluding that there is no Sabbath for the Christian; look here and here for that.)

The word "sabbath" (or equivalent) isn't applied to the activities of the Church after the expulsion of the Christians from the synagogue. See Acts 13:44-47, 18:5-6, 19:8-10, 21:27-30 (compare the words of Jesus, John 16:2), and especially Acts 28:26-28. By that I do not mean that it isn't relevant to Christians (Heb. 4:9). Rather, it isn't used, at all, for the activities of the church, just the synagogue, leading to Paul's point in Col. 2:16: "Let no one pass judgment on you in
The Westminster Assembly
questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath." Against the dispensationalist interpretation, I cannot accept that he would ever encourage Christians to ignore the Ten Commandments. Rather, he is encouraging Christians, especially those from a Gentile background, to resist the efforts of the Judaizers.

Thus, when the Sabbatarians ask where the New Testament applies the word "sabbath" to the first day, the point they are trying to make cuts both ways, because there is no mention of "Sabbath," by name, in the church, whether seventh-day or first-day, anywhere in the New Testament. What we have is the record of the church gathering on the first day (Acts 20:7 and I Cor. 16:2), beginning at the Resurrection (John 20:19), and, most importantly, at Pentecost in Acts 2. Pentecost was a prophecy of this change, because it was 7 seventh-days plus one, the first day of the week!

I call that day the Sabbath. The Westminster Confession of Faith (XXI:7) does, as well: "In His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, He has particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto Him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week: and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord's Day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath." In support of which, the Divines refer to Exodus 20:8-10, Matthew 5:17-18, Isaiah 56:2-7, Genesis 2:2-3, I Cor. 16:1-2, and Acts 20:7 (the last two of which I also cited above).

The Westminster expresses my personal view on the matter. However, if you prefer to call Sunday the Lord's Day, to avoid confusion with the Jewish Sabbath, that is also confessional. I have no argument with that.

However, I do take exception to the suggestion that a first-day Sabbatarian is somehow inferior. My friend called us "the Whore of Babylon," though she denied meaning me personally [?]. I do not speak of her that way, or those who believe as she does. I just consider them mistaken brethren.

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