Sometime ago a friend of mine was driving through Ohio on his way to New York City. At least he thought he was heading for New York until suddenly he saw a huge bus speed toward him and past him, plainly marked New York City. It was puzzling to say the least. Either that bus driver was wrong or he was wrong. So he drove in to the next service station and asked, “Say, isn’t this the way to New York City?” The attendant smiled and said, “Yes, if you want to go 25,000 miles.”
Only then did he realize that he had turned the wrong direction after stopping at a turnpike restaurant. He quickly turned around and headed in the right direction.
This experience of my friend illustrates very clearly what is happening to a lot of people in their religious life. No matter how sincere a person may be, he might be sincerely wrong. Something more is needed than sincerity in order to reach the right destination. Some times Christians discover that they have been mistaken. Sometimes they have been misled by others and find themselves going in the wrong direction. It is tremendously important that Christians keep open minds and hearts and be willing to change directions if necessary to keep in harmony with constantly unfolding truth. After all, truth cannot be everything. Truth is circumscribed in religion by what is in the Bible. It doesn’t conform to everything, but it must conform to what is revealed in the Bible. People may be and will be wrong, but God’s Word never is.
Let’s apply that to a strange situation we find in the world today. Although we have the same Christ, the same Bible, yet we find two Sabbath days kept by Christians. And the sincere heart cannot help but ask, “Which is right?”
There are multitudes who have been told, and who honestly believe, that the keeping of the seventh-day Sabbath was abolished at the cross and that the first day of the week—the day we now call Sunday—became the Lord’s day in honor of the resurrection. There is another group of Christians, equally sincere, who believe that the original seventh-day Sabbath is the true Lord’s day to be observed by all—even this side of the cross.
Friends, if ever I have asked God to help me speak with fairness and honest candor, it is now. For we all know, multitudes of sincere, devoted men and women are walking where their forefathers have walked without once thinking to question why they keep the day that they do. Yet we must learn—and I believe we have learned—one vital truth. It is this. We must have Scripture support for every Christian practice that we follow.
God’s word reveals the truth on the issue
Now if we are wrong on the Sabbath question—wrong either way—God’s word will certainly reveal that error. And I believe that every honest man and woman wants to know the truth, even if the truth turns out to be different from what he expected it to be. If the Scriptures reveal that I am keeping the wrong day, then I ought to be perfectly willing to change. Don’t you think?
I know there are those who say it doesn’t make any difference which day you keep, so long as you keep one day in seven. Ever hear anyone talk like that? Does it make a difference? Is any day acceptable to God? Let’s turn to the Book, to the Bible in your hand, and see what we discover. We shall read three simple, clear statements. First will you turn to Revelations 1:10. “I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.”
Evidently the Lord has a day. But which day is it? “For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.” Matthew 12:8. There must be something different about the Sabbath. Through the prophet Isaiah God speaks of the Sabbath and calls it plainly “my holy day.” Isaiah 58:13. And no where in Scripture does He designate an other day as his.
The Lord, then, has a day. And that day is the Sabbath. But now we ask, which of the seven days is the Sabbath? We turn for our answer to the very heart of the Ten Commandments. “
Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy
Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” Exodus 20: 8-10. That is clear, isn’t it? Now we have learned three things. The Lord has a day. The Sabbath is the Lord’s day.
The seventh day is the Sabbath
And now verse 11. This tells us why God made the Sabbath. “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Evidently there is a mighty strong link between the Sabbath and creation and the Creator.
How does creation fit into the story?
By the way, who made the worlds? Who made this earth? You say, “God did.” Yes. But let’s turn to Ephesians 3: 9. “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.” John 1:10 declares “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.” Could any statement be clearer? Yes, Christ, as He pre-existed before Bethlehem, created this world.
Watch what happened. “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made.” Genesis 2: 2,3. Do you see it now? The One who made this earth is the One who made the Sabbath. Jesus had every right to say, “The Son of man is Lord of the sabbath day.” For He had made it. He had every right to say, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.” For it was He Himself, back in Eden, who first gave commandments to men.
Do we really sense the impact of what we have just discovered? Listen. The Christ of Calvary is the Creator of Genesis. To reject one is to reject the other! Have you ever thought of that? To reject one is to reject the other! Oh friends, why do we try to isolate the Sabbath and put it off somewhere by itself? Why are we so unwilling to leave it just where God put it—in the very center of His eternal law?
Do you know that if I would go into a city and talk about juvenile delinquency and community betterment and salvation from sin—if I should point men to the word of God regarding adultery, stealing, killing, and show how Christ can give victory—every Christian would stand right back of me and many non-Christians as well. They would say, “Brother Joe, what a wonderful work you are doing for humanity!” But the moment we mention the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, eyebrows are lifted. Questions are raised. Excuses are piled high. Why? I ask you. Why?
It is perfectly all right to talk about the first or second commandment or the sixth or the seventh or the eighth. But don’t mention the fourth. Why? Let’s be consistent. You can see that the commandments stand or fall together. Either they are still in force or they aren’t. Either it’s wrong for me to lie and kill and steal, or it isn’t. We don’t make excuses for breaking the other commandments. Why the fourth? I have often wondered how so clear and simple a matter as our relationship to grace and the commandments of God—I say, I have often wondered how so clear and simple a matter can be made to appear so confusing. People say, “I’m saved by grace. I don’t need to keep the law.” Did you ever hear anybody reason like that? But friend, do grace and pardon release us from obedience to the very law that we have broken? If I am saved, will I pick your pocket? Will I lie? Will I steal? Will I kill? No. Commandment keeping becomes a possibility to the heart that loves his Lord. It’s love that makes all the difference.
Do you see? Salvation from the power of sin is a gift from God. He cancels our sin debt of the past through no good works of our own. And then, when we are forgiven, it is our delight to do God’s will. Not to merit heaven, you understand. But because we love Him. Commandment keeping, you see, is not a means of salvation. It is an evidence of it. Keep that clear distinction in mind, and you will never have any confusion on this vital point.
Only for the Jews?
Now some, without really thinking it through, have told us that the seventh day Sabbath is Jewish and therefore is not for us. But Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man.” And that means all men. The Saviour Himself made the Sabbath two thousand years before there was a Jew. He gave the Sabbath along with marriage, and the Sabbath is no more Jewish than is marriage. Woman was made for man. Did you ever hear anyone say, “I can’t get married because it’s Jewish?” Did you?
The deeper you study into this thing, the more thoroughly you investigate, the greater will be your conviction that something is wrong somewhere, that in some very vital issues we have been just slipping along, following the crowd, never thinking to question. At this point you maybe saying, “I believe you are right. Evidently the seventh day is the right day to keep. But how can we know that the day we now call Saturday is the seventh day of Bible times?” Let’s look at the following texts: Luke 23: 52-56; 24: 1. “This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on. And the women also, which came with Him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how His body was laid. And they returned and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment. Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared and certain others with them.”
Do you see how these words settle the matter? Three days are mentioned here—the preparation day, the Sabbath, and the first day of the week. Notice that two of the days are given sacred titles. The other is given simply a number—the first day of the week. Oh, I know it doesn’t say Friday, Saturday, Sunday. But we all know that Jesus was crucified on the day we now call Friday, and rose from the dead on the day we now call Sunday. The Sabbath is the day in between. It’s as simple as that!
And keep in mind that these words were not written that weekend and rushed off to press. No. They were written many years this side of the cross. Yet the inspired writer still calls the seventh day the Sabbath, and Sunday simply the first day of the week. Significant, isn’t it? Think it through.
I hope you will not be satisfied with a shallow look at this Sabbath subject, friends. It is terribly important to understand exactly how you relate to those ten commandments that God wrote with His own hand.
– From the Joe Crews Radio Sermon Library