There is a debate that has gone on in the Christian Church for centuries. Should Christians worship on Saturday (“The Sabbath”) or Sunday? I’ve always gone to church for worship on Sunday. Others gather for worship on Saturday. I write 3 different blogs and quite often I am admonished, sometimes severely by believers, for not keeping the Sabbath (Saturday). I’ve been told that I’m disobeying God and His Commandments and I’m going to be punished for worshipping on Sunday. Another thing that I hear is “did God change His mind about keeping the Sabbath holy?” I’ve been told, and after some study believe, that the day that we worship God is not mandated. What is mandated is that we should love the Lord with our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Mark 12:28-30 (NKJV)28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, "Which is the first commandment of all?"29 Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment.
The word "Sabbath" comes from the Hebrew word “Shabath”, which literally means "rest" or "cessation."
After He completed His six days of creation God rested on the seventh day and set it apart as holy. He then required man to rest on the seventh day.
Genesis 2:3 (NKJV) Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
Exodus 20:8-11 (NKJV)8 "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.11 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 hallowed it.
Those who worship on the Sabbath say that Jesus Christ never changed the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first day of the week. They are absolutely right. The commandments to observe the Sabbath was given specifically to the Jews and Jesus, an observant Jew who was under the Mosaic Law, kept the Sabbath.
Exodus 31:17 (NKJV)17 It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.' "
However they sometimes forget what Jesus said about the Sabbath including the fact that He is Lord of the Sabbath.
Mark 2:27-28 (NKJV)27 And He said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.28 Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath."
The Sabbath regulations were part of God’s covenant with Israel which the Bible and Christians call the Old Covenant. All of the rules, regulations, and commandments, while expected to be followed were meant to lead Israel to Jesus Christ which was the final sacrifice to end the Old Covenant.
Hebrews 10:1-4 (NKJV) For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
Hebrews 7:18-19 (NKJV) For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.
Hebrews 8:7, 13 (NKJV) 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 13 In that He says, “A new covenant ,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
The Law required keeping the Sabbath as part of the overall moral, legal, and sacrificial system by which the Jewish people satisfied God’s requirements for behavior, government, and forgiveness of sins. The Sabbath was part of the Law in that sense. If a person didn’t keep the Sabbath they were in sin and quite often punished.
Exodus 31:14-15 (NKJV) You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord . Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
But with Jesus’ atonement, we no longer are required to keep the Law as a means for our justification.
Galatians 2:15-16 (NKJV) We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
The requirements of the Law were fulfilled in Christ. We now have rest from the Law.
Matthew 5:17-20 (NKJV) “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
Romans 7:4-6 (NKJV) Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
Even if Christians worship on Saturday, the Sabbath, which is their choice.and there is no condemnation for it, they aren’t really “keeping the Sabbath.” To “keep the Sabbath” as it was required in the Old Testament would involve compliance with stringent regulations.
Exodus 16:23 (NKJV)23 Then he said to them, "This is what the LORD has said: 'Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.' "
Exodus 35:3 (NKJV)3 You shall kindle no fire throughout your dwellings on the Sabbath day."
Leviticus 23:32 (NKJV)32 It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath."
Jeremiah 17:21 (NKJV)21 Thus says the LORD: "Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem;
The early Christians did worship on the Sabbath, and other days of the week. It would be natural for them to do so, because most of them were Jews and they continued to associate with their Jewish brothers.
When Paul traveled from synagogue to synagogue he often preached on the Sabbath. He had to in order to meet with God fearing people. If Gentiles wanted to know more about the God of the Jews and His Son Jesus they had to go where they met which was at the synagogue on the Sabbath. Scripture shows however that the first day of the week, not the seventh ( Sabbath), was the primary day of worship in the Apostolic church.
Acts 20:7-12 (NKJV) Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together. And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, “Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.” Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed. And they brought the young man in alive, and they were not a little comforted.
The missionaries gathered with the believers at Torah on the first day of the week to preach and celebrate the Lord’s Supper This is the earliest clear reference to the Christian practice of observing Sunday as a day of worship. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary
I Corinthians 16:1-2 (NKJV) Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.
These two passages indicate that three important things happened on the first day of the week (Sunday), the Lord’s Supper (Communion), preaching, and giving.
Why Do Most Christians Worship On Sunday?
John 20:1 (NKJV) Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
Revelation 1:10-11 (NKJV) I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”
Acts 2:1-4 (NKJV)When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
According to the Law, Pentecost came on the first day of the week.
Leviticus 23:15-16 (NKJV) ‘And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord .
This same first day of the week Peter delivered the first sermon of the church and the first converts were added, and the first believers baptised.
Acts 2:14, 41 (NKJV) 14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
From the start, the church in Jerusalem met every day in the temple courts and gathered to break bread together in private homes.
Acts 2:46-47 (NKJV) So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
Sunday worship is not commanded in the Bible. The point in all is that we are not to limit our worship to any particular day of the week. Let's look at what the
Romans 14:5-6 (NKJV)5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord;[a] and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.
These verses suggest that there is personal freedom regarding the observance of holy day.
Colossians 2:16-17 (NKJV)16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.
Paul instructs the believers in Colosse not to judge or allow anyone to be their judge regarding Sabbath days.
Galatians 4:8-10 (NKJV) 8 But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. 9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years.
Here Paul is concerned because Christians are turning back like slaves to legalistic observances of "special" days.
As we see the Bible doesn’t require that we worship on Saturday or Sunday, for that matter. We have the freedom to worship on the day that we believe we should. No one should judge us in regard to the day we keep. We are free in Christ and not under law.
Romans 6:14 (NKJV) 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
John 1:17 (NKJV) For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Believers have every right to worship on Saturday or Sunday and they should if they are convinced that is the right thing to do. However, if anyone says to worship on Saturday or Sunday over the other day as a sign of "true" Christianity or "true" redemption, then that is wrong.
Romans 14:10-13 (NKJV) But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: “ As I live, says the Lord , Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.
Your salvation is not tied to the day you choose to worship. Here is all that it takes for you to become saved and a child of God with all the benefits and blessings that come with it.
Romans 10:9-10 (NKJV) that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
John 3:14-16 (NKJV) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Romans 10:13 (NKJV) For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This is what determines salvation not the way that you worship.
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.