Church of God, New World Ministries

Why Sunday Observance?

One of the most difficult things for one to do is to admit it when shown to be wrong! The most difficult thing for one to do is to change when proven wrong!

God has made the 4th commandment a test command. Obedience to it is the one great distinguishing sign separating true Christians from heretics.

Most self-professing Christians admit that one must obey God, but they don’t agree as to just what constitutes obedience to God. Yet Christ explained exactly what obedience means.

Christ specifically said that He did not come to abolish or destroy the law or the prophets, He came to fulfill, that is, to do to the fullest, to “fill full.” He told the rich young ruler: “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matt. 19:16-19). The verses following show that He was referring to the Ten Commandments.

The New Testament plainly shows that we are still to keep the Ten Commandments. Where, then, do men get the authority to change the 4th commandment by substituting Sunday in the place of the original Sabbath which Christ and the apostles kept?

Here are the theologians confessions. You will be amazed! What was the first law made to enforce Sunday?

Chamber’s Encyclopedia, 1882, ed., vol. VIII, p. 401, art. “Sabbath,” declares: “By none of the fathers before the 4th century is it (the first day) identified with the Sabbath; nor is the duty of observing it grounded by them either on the 4th commandment or on the precept or example of Christ or His apostles. Unquestionably the first law, either ecclesiastical or civil, by which the Sabbatical observance of that day (Sunday) is known to have been ordained, is the edict of Constantine, 321 A.D., of which the following is a translation: “Let all judges, inhabitants of the cities, and artificers, rest on the venerable day of the sun. But in the country, husbandmen may freely and lawfully apply to the business of agriculture; since it often happens that the sowing of corn and the planting of vines cannot be so advantageously preformed on any other day.”

Notice what the world-famous Britannica admits: “The earliest recognition of the observance of Sunday as a legal duty, is a constitution of Constantine in 321 A.D., enacting that all courts of justice, inhabitants of towns and workshops were to be at rest on Sunday, with an exception in favour of those engaged in agricultural labour.” This is the first law made to enforce Sunday!

“Sunday (dies solis of the Roman calendar, ‘day of the sun’, because dedicated to the sun), the first day of the week, was adopted by the early Christians as a day of worship. It was called the ‘Lord’s Day.’ No regulation for its observance are laid down in the New Testament, nor indeed, is its observance even enjoined. In the second century its observance was universal. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) was not a continuation of the Jewish (or God’s) Sabbath, which was also at first observed, but a substitute for it.” (Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, vol. IV, pp. 2259-60, art. “Sunday”)

So it was not until the 2nd century after Jesus Christ that Sunday observance became general, and it was not until 321 A.D. that it was enforced by State decree!

Most Catholics and Protestants would like to assume that the Sabbath law was changed either by command or by example in the New Testament. But this is not true! You will not find one single verse authorizing such a change from Saturday to Sunday.

If, then, the New Testament Scriptures do not explicitly abolish or change the 4th commandment (as given in Ex. 20:8-11), then just when and where did the Christian-professing world begin to observe Sunday? When was Sunday substituted for the anciently observed Sabbath of Almighty God?

Yes, just who changed (or at least, claimed to change) the 4th commandment? Who thought to change the Sabbath from Saturday (the 7th day) to Sunday (the 1st day)? The answer is clear to those who are not afraid of the truth. History, as we have seen, reveals that it was the Emperor Constantine the Great, who made the first law which actually began to force the world to keep Sunday, and to break the Sabbath of God. And remember, Constantine was an unbaptized pagan sun worshipper until the time of his death. On his death-bed he supposedly embraced the Catholic faith, and received the pagan rite of “pouring” - often (but erroneously) called “baptism”!

But how did Christian-professing churches of this world come to adopt Sunday as their Sabbath instead of the Sabbath of God?

Satan, the Devil, the Great Deceiver, has deceived the whole world (Rev. 12:9).This was quite easy for him to do for, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). Satan, then, has played upon the deceptive heart-strings of human nature in order to trick mankind into accepting a counterfeit day in the place of the Holy Sabbath of God.

Here, then, is how the Christian-professing churches of this world came to observe Sunday. Admittedly, the Catholic Church existed before the Protestant churches. And it was the Catholic Church which bowed to Constantine’s dictum to observe Sunday in the place of the Sabbath, and she later bequeathed this day to her protesting daughters. Just listen to the following compelling testimonies to this historically proven fact!

First, let us go to the Catholic Church to see what she has to say on the subject: In the August 26, 1900, issue of the Catholic Press, of Sydney, Australia, we read: “Sunday is a Catholic institution, and its claims to observance can be defended only on Catholic principles. From beginning to end of the Scriptures there is not a single passage that warrants the transfer of weekly public worship from the last day (Saturday) of the week to the first (Sunday).

Here is an interesting comment from Cardinal Gibbon’s book, Faith of Our Fathers, 110th ed., p. 89: “You may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify.”

On Sept. 23, 1893, Cardinal Gibbons also made this statement in the Catholic Mirror: “The Catholic Church for over one thousand years before the existence of a Protestant, by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday. The Christian Sabbath (Sunday) is, therefore, to this day, the acknowledged offspring of the Catholic Church as the spouse of the Holy Ghost, without a word of remonstrance from the Protestant world.”

“We Catholics, then have precisely the same authority for keeping Sunday holy, instead of Saturday, as we have for every other article of our creed; namely, the authority of the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth; whereas, you who are protestants have really no authority for it whatever; for there is no authority for it in the Bible, and you will not allow that there can be authority for it anywhere else. Both you and we do, in fact, follow tradition in this matter; but we follow it, believing it to be part of God’s Word and the church to be its divinely appointed guardian and interpreter; you (Protestants) follow it, denouncing it (tradition) all the time as a fallible and treacherous guide, which often makes the commandment of God on none effect.” (Vol. IV of Clifton Tracts (a Catholic work, p.15)

Let me give you one more statement from the Catholics before turning to Protestant sources. I now quote from The Library of Christian Doctrine, pp. 3-4 “Why Don’t You Keep the Sabbath Day?” “You (Protestants) will tell me that Saturday was the Jewish Sabbath, but that the Christian Sabbath has been changed to Sunday. Changed! But by whom? Who has the authority to change an express commandment of Almighty God? When God has spoken and said, ‘Thou shalt keep holy the 7th day.’ Who shall dare to say, ‘Nay, thou mayest work and do all manner of worldly business on the 7th day; but thou shalt keep holy the first day in its stead?’ This is a most important question, which I know not how you can answer. You are a Protestant, and you profess to go by the Bible and the Bible only; and yet in so important matter as the observance of one day in seven as a holy day, you go against the plain letter of the Bible, and put another day in the place of that day which the Bible has commanded. The command to keep holy the 7th day is one of the Ten Commandments; you believe that the other nine are still binding: who gave you authority to tamper with the fourth? If you are consistent with your own principles, if you really follow the Bible and the Bible only, you ought to be able to produce some portion of the New Testament in which this 4th commandment is expressly altered.”

The above testimony amply shows how the Catholics feel on this subject of who changed the Sabbath. They believe that the Catholic Church has power to make laws and to change the Word of God. But the Protestants are supposed to believe in no authority but the Bible.

Next, let us see what the Protestants have to say, or admit on this important subject.

“Some Baptists are fond of demanding a ‘Thus saith the Lord’ for everything and profess to accept nothing for which explicit authority cannot be produced for the word of God. Probably not a reader (meaning Baptists) of this paragraph would be willing to allow this principle to its legitimate conclusion. It would involve the immediate return to Sabbath worship, the abolition of Sunday schools.” (The Baptist Examiner, Jan. 4, 1894).

“To me it seems unaccountable that Jesus, during three years intercourse with His disciples, often conversing with them upon the Sabbath question discussing it in some of its various aspects, freeing it from its false glosses never alluded to any transference of the day; also that during 40 days of His resurrection life, no such thing was intimated. Of course, I quite well know that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history as a religious day, as we learn from the Christian fathers and other sources, but what a pity that it (Sunday) comes branded with the mark of paganism and christened with the name of the sun god, when adopted and sanctioned by the Papal apostasy, and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestantism!” (Dr. Edward T. Hiscox, author of “The Baptist Manual”)

In this same article, read before the Baptist Conference, he went on to say: “Earnestly desiring information on this subject, which I have studied for many years, I ask, where can the record of such a transaction (from the 7th day to the 1st day) be found? Not in the New Testament, absolutely not. There is no scriptural evidence of the change of the Sabbath institution from the 7th to the 1st day of the week.” What an admission!

You can read quotes from the Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Methodist Church, Pentecostal Churches, the Church of England and they all say the same thing.

There are many more confessions which could be added to this list, both Catholic and Protestant. But the above list will suffice to prove that Sunday observance was not instituted in the New Testament, but was instituted by Constantine the Great in 321 A.D., and enforced by the Catholic Church, bequeathed this pagan first day of the week, wrapped up in a Sunday wrapper, to the Protestant churches, her daughters (Rev. 17:5).

Sometimes an atheist or agnostic dares to put in plain words the real reason why he cannot accept the teaching of the churches. Did you know why Ingersoll was an agnostic? Here is one reason found in his book, “Some Mistakes of Moses,” “Since the establishment of the Christian religion, the day (the Sabbath) has been changed, and Christians do not regard the day as holy upon which God actually rested, and which He sanctified. The Christian Sabbath, or the Lord’s Day was legally established by the murderer Constantine, because upon that day Christ was supposed to have risen from the dead. It is not easy to see where Christians got the right to disregard the direct command of God, to labour on the day He sanctifies, and keeps as sacred, a day upon which He commanded men to labour. The Sabbath of God is Saturday, and if any day is to be kept holy, that is the one, and not the Sunday of the Christian.”

Do you now see why there are so many unbelievers? The veritable Babylon of hundreds of competitive religious bodies and conflicting teachings, has led many into rank atheism. If people would only accept and obey the plain teachings of the Bible, including Sabbath-keeping, infidelity would vanish from the earth. How grateful are we for the knowledge of this truth? Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy!

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