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Sabbath Day or First Day. Which Is right?

The first thing we need to understand is that Sunday is not simply a Christian version of the Jewish Sabbath or Day of Rest. Far from it.
The observance of a weekly day of worship, whether it be Sunday, Saturday, or any other day, should never be allowed to become a matter of religious legalism. The Apostle Paul warns us against this specifically in Colossians 2: 16-17 when he says, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”

There is no New Testament evidence whatsoever that working on Sunday is sinful. Oh, and by the way, if it is wrong to work on Sunday, it is equally wrong to cause someone else to work on Sunday. (i.e. going out to eat or going shopping on Sunday, etc.)

Christ has set us free for something better: namely, the pursuit of holiness and fellowship with the living God as a daily lifestyle. Our highest calling is to glorify God every day of our lives, while also setting aside special times for worship with fellow believers (Hebrews 10:25). Our goal is to say, with the Psalmist, “I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1).

Under the old covenant with Israel (Ex. 19; Heb. 8:6, 7, 13), the Sabbath day was extremely strict. Not only was no work to be done by the Israelites and their children, they also were to give rest to all in their households—servants, livestock, even sojourners (Ex. 20:10). God even gave regulatory laws over what could and could not be done. For example, if one even went out to gather sticks on the Sabbath in order to kindle a fire (Num. 15:32-36; Ex. 35:1-3), he was to be put to death (Ex. 31:14-15; 35:2). Jesus, himself, was condemned for picking corn on the Sabbath day and healing a man on the sabbath. But, what did he tell his condemners? The Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath. Also, in the 10 commandments, the only one of the commandments that was ceremonial was “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy”. It was also the only one of the 10 that was not moved over to the New Testament. All 9 others were moral laws. And we see in Colossians 2:14 the scriptures declare, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was
contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” Jesus nailed all the ceremonial laws to the cross.

By the way, under the Old Testament, the sabbath day began on sundown Friday and ended on sundown Saturday. Do you seventh day sabbath believers observe it like the Jews did (and some still do)? If not, than what’s the point?

I do believe that Sunday should still be a day of rest and no unnecessary work.  However, certain 24/7 occupations such as police, fire, emergency services, military, security services, health care and elder care services, etc. are necessary for the protection and service of people.  Therefore it is not a sin to work on Sunday. Oh and by the way, I’d rather have Christians in these positions than non believers, wouldn’t you?

Now some may use what we’ve been talking about here merely as an excuse to lay out of church to work on Sunday (because it pays better). That is not a reason to miss church when it is not necessary. Remember, God knows and sees the heart of a person and He cannot be fooled by flimsy excuses! We all will be held accountable at the Judgement for what was necessary and what was unnecessary and how we influenced others by our decisions. Remember, there is a big difference between a reason and an excuse!

When Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week, things changed. Christ, the second Adam, “finished” (John 19:30) the work that the first Adam failed to do (Rom. 5:12-19). Because of that pivotal event, the church determined that for Christians under the new covenant, the day of worship and celebration of the Lord’s grace in Jesus Christ was to be the first day of the week, Sunday: “From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, [the Sabbath] 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 by Christians.


So, to sum up, why do we worship on Sunday and not Saturday?
• The first day of the week was the day on which our Lord rose from the dead (John 20:1; cf. Ps. 118:24).
• The first day of the week is called “the Lord’s day” (Rev. 1:10; cf. 1 Cor. 16:2).
• The first day was the day traditionally on which the Holy Ghost was poured out on the church (Acts 2:1-36). [The Christian holiday of Pentecost is celebrated on the 50th day (the seventh Sunday) from Easter Sunday.]
• Just as on the first day of creation God made light and separated it from the darkness, we gather on the first day of the week to celebrate the light of the gospel in Jesus Christ, who has separated us from the world of the darkness of sin (John 1:5, 9; 3:19; 8:12; 2 Cor. 4:1-6).

Romans 13:9
“ For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Not all of the 10 commandments was listed here but the Sabbath day certainly wasn’t mentioned.

Don Woolett

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