The Lost Commandment
Lesson 14

As the first day of the week is now almost universally observed in the place of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, the question might be asked, On what authority do men set aside the day which God sanctified and commanded mankind to keep holy? That there is a commandment requiring men to remember and to keep holy the seventh day of the week which the Creator blessed and hallowed at the close of the first week of Creation, no one can deny. The question then is, Is there any authority for the change of this commandment?

The Catholic Church claims to have the authority to change the day of worship from the seventh to the first day of the week and on that basis they are perfectly satisfied in observing Sunday. This, however, presents a problem for the rest of the Christian world as they do not acknowledge the authority of the Church of Rome. Instead they seek to prove the change of the Sabbath from the Bible. And, while they generally admit that there is no specific text that can be pointed to in which it can be said that God changed His Sabbath to the first day of the week, they point to a number of other texts that they believe imply such a change did, in fact, find its way into the new Christian church.

1. How must we test all things?

Isaiah 8:20

2. Who only are we safe in following?

1 Peter 2:21

3. Who did the apostle Paul later rebuke because he acted unwisely?

Galatians 2:11–14

4. Which two disciples did Jesus have to rebuke because of a wrong attitude?

Luke 9:51–56

Note: Though we were to look to the most righteous of men, even they would fall far short of the perfect example of Christ. In looking to them we would be in danger of making grave errors, and thereby fall below the standard of pure and undefiled religion.

5. What was Christ’s custom on the Sabbath?

Luke 4:16

6. At Antioch, what day did Paul and Barnabas go to the synagogue?

Acts 13:14

7. After Paul’s sermon, and the Jews had left the synagogue, what did the Gentiles request of the Apostle?

Acts 13:42

Note: This was at least 15 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Jews had all left the meeting, and as Paul was called of the Lord especially to be the minister to the Gentiles, there was nothing to keep him from announcing a meeting for them on the following day, which would have been Sunday. If Sunday were to have been the Christian Sabbath, it would have been logical to do so, but he did not do this.

8. Did Jesus change the law in any way?

Matthew 5: 17-18

9. How long did Jesus say the law of God would last?

Matthew 5:18

10. Did Christ expect His followers to observe the Sabbath commandment following the resurrection?

Matthew 24:15–20

Note: The destruction of Jerusalem occurred in A.D. 70, approximately 40 years later. We may know with certainty that Jesus expected His followers would still be keeping the Sabbath at that time.

11. How does Jesus view worship that follows tradition instead of God’s commandments?

Mark 7:7, 9

12. How do we demonstrate the fact that we indeed have a living relationship with Jesus?

1 John 2:3

13. What did Jesus say about those who seek to take away from the importance of obeying any part of the law?

Matthew 5:19

Note: Christ did not in any way imply that one who broke the commandments and taught others to do so would be in heaven. He is rather stating how lawbreakers are viewed in heaven—the evaluation that will be placed upon their characters. This point becomes clear in verse 20 where the scribes and Pharisees who broke the commandments and taught others how they might do so are emphatically excluded from the kingdom.

14. Can we keep nine of the commandments and find acceptance?

James 2:10

15. By what sign did God set apart those who worship Him from those who worship false gods?

Ezekiel 20:20

Note: In rejecting the truth, men reject its Author. In trampling upon the law of God, they deny the authority of the Lawgiver. Though in different form, idolatry exists in the Christian world today as truly as it existed among ancient Israel in the days of Elijah. It is as easy to make an idol of false doctrines and assumptions as to fashion an idol of wood or stone.

16. What is the only biblical definition of sin?

1 John 3:4

Note: If the law of God is something we are to recognize as merely good advice and generally appreciate for its value while retaining an inability to follow its precepts, we might more appropriately title that law the Ten Suggestions. If it is not to be the standard by which our conduct is to be measured, it becomes an irrelevant document. Following from cause to effect, there can then be no sin, for the only definition we have of sin in the Scriptures is transgression of the law, or as some versions read—lawlessness.

17. In the Judgment, what will Christ say to those who profess a relationship with Him, but who have failed to render obedience?

Matthew 7:21–23

18. Is it possible to be justified without obedience to the law?

Romans 2:13

Note: God, in His wisdom and mercy, tests men and women here to see if they will obey His voice and respect His law, or rebel as Satan did. God will not pardon and bless those who are trampling upon even one of His requirements. When we willingly and knowingly commit sin, the voice of conscience grows dim and it separates us from God. However joyous we may imagine our religious feeling to be, Jesus cannot remain in the heart that disregards the divine law. God will honor those only who honor Him.

The early Christians observed the Sabbath in the most careful manner; otherwise, they would have been stoned. Instead of this, we learn from the book of Acts that at times they even received the grudging respect of their unbelieving nation. See Acts 5. To suppose that the keeping of Sunday had begun among them is to make an assumption for which there is no probability. In keeping the Sabbath holy they followed not only the example, but also the command of Jesus.

While it is true that Christ arose on Sunday, it does not follow that we should give up the Sabbath which God Himself has commanded, nor that we should seek to transfer that which marked the Sabbath, to another day of the week, though that day may be memorable. To do this would require an equally definite command from God, abolishing the former command. But nowhere is there evidence of such a command. Neither the Saviour nor His followers ever broke the Sabbath. Had the Jews been able to sustain their charge against Christ as a Sabbath breaker, as they tried to do, they would have had no need to bribe false witnesses in order to secure His condemnation by the Jewish council. It was because no fault could be found with Him that it was necessary that men should perjure their souls by testifying to a lie.

When in ignorance we have transgressed God’s law, He is very understanding of that fact and accepts our best intentions, however wrongly they may have been expressed. (See Acts 17:30.) When, however, the truth of His will is revealed to us, it then becomes a test that reveals our attitude toward God and His authority.

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