Archive for March, 2008

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Chuck Missler’s Sabbath Teaching…An Open Refutation by Tim C. Terry

March 17, 2008

(The following is an open refutation of Chuck Missler’s teaching on the 7th day Sabbath by myself, Tim C. Terry.  Chuck’s teaching is complete with footnotes etc.  I have just added my comments in blue.  While it is my hope that Chuck will reconsider some of his statements in light of Scripture my greater goal is to get you the reader into the Scriptures to see if God was serious when He gave the 4th Commandment. I believe He was.  God bless, Tim)

THE SEVENTH DAY By Chuck Missler

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 2:3

God set the pattern from the beginning…literally. There is but one day recognized in Scripture as the weekly Sabbath…the 7th day.

 Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.   –  Exodus 20:8

Many Christians still remain uncomfortable over the issue of the Sabbath day.  Observing Sunday as a memorial of the resurrection of our Lord is our traditional day of worship, and yet many are disturbed over this issue. 

Notice that Chuck Missler correctly states that Sunday is ourtraditional” day of worship.  Whose tradition again? It is a tradition of men.   In fact, with some honest research into the subject you will find (as Chuck alludes to later) that it is a catholic tradition which most of Christianity has latched onto. .  Jesus said “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.  Mark 7:9  Now Chuck says “many” are disturbed over this issue. Why are they disturbed?  Perhaps because “many” know that as Christians we profess to be Bible believers…people who are to line up our very lives with the Word of God.  “If God said it…that settles it”. We proudly tell the world this…yet here… on this issue of Sabbath we stumble backwards into hypocrisy.   That is why many are uncomfortable…it’s because we should repent and won’t.  This always makes someone who is a Believer uncomfortable.  It’s called conviction.  

 (Anyone who thinks this is a simple issue to resolve hasn’t studied it very carefully!)  

 Jesus said “If you love Me, keep My commandments”. John 14:15 Don’t be led into thinking this is a complex subject of which only the most learned bible Scholars are able to understand.  Remember…we can always ask WWJD.   Jesus kept the Sabbath…and we are His disciples.  It is really just a simple issue of choosing obedience or disobedience to Scripture.

A number of key questions still remain unresolved for some:o Did God institute the Sabbath just for Israel?

While this may be a key question for some…it is not difficult to resolve.

A mixed multitude went up with them also…Exodus 12:38

“One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you.” Exodus 12:49  

“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.” Exodus 20:10

“And it shall be, if they (the nations) will learn carefully the ways of My people, (Israel) to swear by My name, “As the LORD lives,’ as they taught My people to swear by Baal, then they shall be established in the midst of My people.  But if they do not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation” says the LORD. Jeremiah 12:16-17

“ Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants—Everyone who keep from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant—Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer.  Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations”. Isaiah 56:6-7

Finally…is not the question irrelevant anyway?  Are we not grafted into Israel thru faith in our Jewish Messiah according to Paul? In fact he says in Galatians 3:29And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Perhaps this is why he tells the Gentiles to quit living as Gentiles in Ephesians 4:17!!

 Is a Christian supposed to keep the Ten Commandments?

Isn’t it sad to think this question is even asked within Christianity?  I would like to think that Chuck’s answer to his question is a resounding yes.  Sadly…his answer in this teaching seems to be no.  As you will see he will claim that all of God’s Commandments were done away with by Jesus, having been “nailed to the cross.”

o Does a Christian have to keep the Sabbath? 

Does a Christian have to honor their father and mother? It goes back to whether you believe you should obey God’s Commandments or not.

o When did Sunday replace Saturday as “the holy day”?

Sunday never has replaced Saturday as the day God “set apart” as the Sabbath.  As you will see later…even Chuck agrees with this.

Noah’s Animals?

 First, how many of each animal did Noah take into the ark?  Often overlooked is the fact that Noah was to take seven of the “clean” and only two of the “unclean.”1      But how did Noah know which were “clean” and which were “unclean?”  These are ecclesiastical definitions.

This is a good point Chuck makes.  Noah was not “Jewish”.  (Although neither was Abraham or even Moses) Yet it seems that Noah understood quite well the difference between clean and unclean.  It would seem that God Himself set the pattern at creation…long before Sinai just as He did with Sabbath.

It seems that many concepts which were later codified in the Law under Moses had previously been ordained in Eden.2

I agree 100% with Chuck.  In fact, God spoke to Isaac of his father Abraham saying…”because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” (Gen 26:5)  As you know, this of course was hundreds of years before Sinai.  Take note of the fact that father Abraham took obedience to God’s commands seriously according to Scripture.

(Notice, too, that Noah was not circumcised and still was able to observe these “Levitical” distinctions.  Abraham, too, was declared righteous prior to his circumcision in Genesis 15:6; circumcision was established in Genesis 17:10ff.  Note also that the priestly instructions linked these concepts with the Sabbath.3 )

Noah was not circumcised because God had not commanded it of him. Also…the instructions given concerning the definition of food…or the Sabbath are not “Levitical distinctions”.  Don’t let Chuck get you off track. As he already said…they were given long before Sinai…long before Levi was ever born.  Circumcision by the way was the sign of the covenant given to Abraham and his descendants. (Genesis 17)  Now, Chuck’s point about Abraham is a good one.  Circumcision never saved anyone and it never will.  But notice…we are talking here about obedience…not justification. I will say it again…our topic is focused on the question of obedience to one of God’s commands…not on how we are declared righteous before the Living God.  This will be important for you to understand as Chuck seems to confuse the two as he attempts to justify his position. Again…keeping Sabbath will not save you…only by the blood of The Lamb, thru faith in Messiah will you be saved. Abraham was circumcised in obedience to God…as Chuck said, he was already saved.  Likewise…at the very least, we as Christians should be obedient to God’s commands out of love for what He has already done for us.  Amen?

The Origin of the Sabbath

Jesus emphasized that:  The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath .  –  Mark 2:27His words point back before the Ten Commandments, to the original purpose and will of God.  The Sabbath came into being when man came into being.  It was set apart and blessed-as a divine example-for the use and benefit of man, at the Creation (Genesis 2:1-3).4

I agree.

First Mention

The first mention of the “Sabbath” (from the Hebrew verb shabbat , meaning “to rest from labor”; the day of rest) is in Exodus 16:23, regarding the gathering of manna:And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning .  – Exodus 16:23Notice that this is four chapters before the Law was given at Mt. Sinai.  They were to gather twice as much on the sixth day in anticipation of a day they were apparently already observing.5    It is clear that the Sabbath had been instituted long before the giving of the Law at Sinai:  it was ordained in Eden. 

Good points…

The Decalogue

 And, of course, the Sabbath was included in the Ten Commandments:6    Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.That the Sabbath had been ordained prior to Sinai is even accounted for in the very wording of Exodus 20:8: “Remember…”7 The Sabbath was part of the covenant which God made with Israel at Sinai.8   

 Applicable to All People?

This ordination of the Seventh Day acknowledges the moral duty of man to worship his Creator.9     It also recognizes the basic need of man for a weekly day of rest.  The physical necessities of man require a Sabbath of rest. He is so constituted that his bodily welfare needs at least one day in seven for rest from ordinary labor.  The failure to set aside the seventh day may account for the toll of stress in our modern society.  (It has been reported that an 8% increase/decrease in traffic accidents surround the changes to/from “daylight savings time.”)God even established Himself as the ultimate example.  How can we ignore this day?  If you love God, you need to spend time with Him.  (In contrast to our hectic pace as double-income families, etc.)

While what Chuck has just said might be true…and further builds a good case for keeping the Sabbath…a better reason is that God commanded it. As His children we are to “trust and obey”.  If we love God…we should keep His Commandments according to Jesus.

In Mosaic Legislation

Under the Mosaic law, strict regulations were laid down regarding its observance.10     These were peculiar to that dispensation. 

 Just as a reminder…the Mosaic Law was not something Moses just made up. The Mosaic Law is God’s Law… It’s His Word…His Torah…His instructions as given thru the prophet Moses. It’s the foundation of our Bible.  And…it’s eternal.  According to Scripture…the specific instructions given concerning the Sabbath are eternal as well. Exodus 31:16-17 says “Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.  It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever They are not “peculiar to that dispensation” as Chuck says, and he offers no Scriptural evidence to support his position that they were.  In fact, Chuck himself has already pointed out, that the Sabbath was observed before Sinai… it was observed after Sinai and during the Days of Jesus…it was observed after His death and Resurrection….and…it will be observed in the future according to the prophets. (Isaiah 66:23, Ezekiel 46)  That’s a pretty long dispensation.   Also, and this is very important, the Mosaic Law is what defines sin according to 1John 3:4.  The Mosaic Law is what David referred to as a “Lamp unto my feet… a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105)   We who believe that Jesus is God…must understand then…that Jesus wrote the Torah and He is the Living Torah. He told us concerning His Word in Matthew 24:35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away”. This definitely includes the 4th Commandment. 

 In the subsequent history of the Jews, frequent references are made to the sanctity of the Sabbath.11   The kindling of a fire on the Sabbath was forbidden.12   The penalty for profaning the Sabbath by doing any work on it was death.13   And yet, the priests still carried on their duties about the Tabernacle.14   The Temple was full of activities.15   The rite of circumcision was performed on the Sabbath if it was the eighth day after the child’s birth.16

Doing good works on the Sabbath is exampled by Jesus in Matthew 12:10-12.  Preserving life…and walking according to Torah is exactly what Jesus did.  It’s what the priests were doing as they carried out God’s instructions concerning the temple and the sacrificial system. They had been commanded of God. It’s what parents were doing by circumcising their sons on the 8th day following birth. These good works neither conflict with nor abrogate the Sabbath Command. In other words it’s okay to obey God on the Sabbath.

In later times they perverted the Sabbath by their traditions.  Isaiah condemned the hypocrisy of the worshipers in his day.17   He defined true Sabbath-keeping as turning from one’s own ways and own pleasures and taking delight in the Lord.18

Chuck makes a good point here…but perhaps not the one he wanted. Consider that Isaiah was not arguing against the validity of the Sabbath Command.  Isaiah was telling people to repent and start honoring the Sabbath as instructed in the Torah.  God’s people had strayed from the Word and so God was calling them back to the Torah thru the prophet Isaiah.  I wonder…what would Isaiah say today about our “Sabbath keeping” or lack thereof?  What would he say about how we have “perverted the Sabbath” by our traditions? “Oh that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river” Isaiah 48:18

Other prophets also raised their protests against the abuse of the Sabbath.19   They regarded the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of the Jews as due-at least in part-to their desecration of the Sabbath.20   Their 70-year exile in Babylon was directly linked to the Sabbath instructions.21 God clearly takes His instructions for the Sabbath, and Sabbatical years, seriously.

I agree with Chuck here 100%.  God always has…and always will view our transgression of His law as sin. (1John 3:4). Including as Chuck just said…His Sabbath’s. Has God changed?  Not according to Scripture. (Malachi 3:6) 

You can’t legislate devotion.  Even today, in Israel‘s secular state, a visitor is confronted with Sabbath elevators (stopping at every floor during the Sabbath); and other travel inconveniences quite removed from the real intent of the Sabbath observance.

Again…I agree.  Obviously Chuck is right because although God has “legislated” the 7th day Sabbath quite clearly in Scripture for all to keep…most of Christianity has chosen to ignore it as well as actually teach against the need to obey it.     

The New Testament Period

As time passed, the true meaning of the Sabbath had been obscured by the multitude of restrictions laid upon its observance; it had become largely external and formal.  And, of course, as the rules surrounding the observance of the Sabbath multiplied, so did the fanciful and far-fetched rituals to circumvent them.22

Chuck is correct to a point.  There were many “fences” added to protect the sanctity of the Sabbath.   However…what Chuck refers to here is of course “man made traditions.”  Again…don’t get sidetracked.  Keeping the Sabbath is a Commandment of God…not a tradition of men.

It was Jesus’ custom to attend the synagogue on the Sabbath.23     It was inevitable that Jesus would come into conflict with the Jewish leadership over the Sabbath.

The point Chuck just made should be a wake up call for Christianity.  Namely…that it was the custom of Jesus to attend the synagogue “on the Sabbath” (Luke 4:16) Again…as His disciples…we should seek to imitate Him. Amen?  Also…please remember that Jesus had problems with traditions of men which conflicted with the Sabbath Command…not the Sabbath itself.  He was Messiah…He was without sin…which meant He never broke the 4th Commandment.

In His teaching He upheld the authority and validity of the Mosaic Law.24   His emphasis, however, was not on the external observance of the law, but on a spontaneous performance of the will of God which underlaid the law.25   

 I agree of course that Jesus upheld the authority and validity of the Mosaic Law.  It was in fact…His Fathers law…and, it was His Law as God in flesh.  And, according to His Law (Deuteronomy 13) if He taught against Torah…He was to be considered a false prophet and could not in fact have been Messiah.  Now…concerning Chuck’s comment when he says  His emphasis, however, was not on the external observance of the law, but on a spontaneous performance of the will of God which underlaid the law”.  I wish that my walk was always just a “spontaneous performance of the will of God” but truth be known it isn’t.   Sometimes I have to make a willing choice to obey God externally when my flesh would rather not.  While I agree that God is after our hearts…I believe that a good place for us to start is with an “external observance of the law”.  Without that first step…you will never make it to “spontaneous performance”.  Scriptures are filled with accounts of God’s people making the choice to obey even when they did not want to. In fact…I don’t think that the cross was a “spontaneous performance” by Jesus…I believe it was a choice He made out of love for His Father’s will…and out of love for us. His should be our example always. 

In regards to the Sabbath, He clarified the true meaning by showing the original purpose for its institution: The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath .  – Mark 2:27

True…and this does not nullify the Command to keep it.  

Six Conflicts

Jesus asserted His lordship over the Sabbath.26   He defended His disciples for plucking grain on the Sabbath by alluding to the time when David and his men ate the bread of the Presence.27  In so doing, Jesus placed the Sabbath commandment in the same class as the ceremonial law.  Human need had precedence over the ceremonial requirements.  He also reminded His critics that the priests in the Temple profaned the Sabbath and were held guiltless.28   He referred to the circumcision of a male on the Sabbath Day.29       Jesus expressed anger over those at Capernaum who showed more concern for the punctilious observance of the Sabbath than for a human being who was deprived of the use of a hand.30   Likewise, he was angered by the ruler of the synagogue who became indignant when Jesus healed a woman who had a spirit of infirmity for 18 years.31 There were seven healings on the Sabbath.32   (However, there were also healings on other non-Sabbath days.33 )  In all of these instances, Jesus showed that He placed human need above mere external ceremonial observance of the Sabbath.  He never did or said anything to suggest that He intended to take away from man the privileges afforded by such a day of rest.

Most of this was addressed earlier.  God wants us to obey Him and do good works every day.  I would point out that Chuck ends by saying Jesus never did anything to suggest He would take away the Sabbath.  I agree.  Remember however that while the Sabbath is an awesome gift and “privilege” as Chuck says here…it is also a Commandment from the King of the Universe. 

The Early Christians

The early Christians were loyal Jews; they worshiped daily in the Temple at Jerusalem;34  they attended services in the synagogue;35  they revered the law of Moses.36 

Notice that Paul did not try to persuade them to drop the Sabbath and start meeting on Sunday.

  The dispute over the requirements of a Gentile Christian were resolved at the Council at Jerusalem.37

Here Chuck throws out a quick statement referring to Acts 15 in an attempt I assume, to say that only the Jews need obey Torah commands such as Sabbath.  Is this really what the disciples taught?  Many bible teachers make the mistake of stopping one verse short of fully understanding Acts 15. I believe this includes Chuck Missler…but you be the judge. The following is taken from a teaching I wrote called “Seven Filter’s” and should address Chuck’s comment above as it addresses Acts 15…   

 In the book of Acts.  (Acts 15:19-21) we see an interesting decision made by the disciples concerning non-Jews who have turned to the God of Israel. They send instructions for these new believers to “abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, (which can only be defined in the Torah) from things strangled, and from blood”.  Is this all that is required  for “new testament” Believers?  Are these the only instructions we need to abide by as Christians today?  Of course not.  In fact we don’t even find a prohibition of murder listed in these instructions from James.  So what’s going on? The answer lies in the very next verse… “For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”  Did you catch it? The Disciples are rightly expecting these new Believers, although they have the Holy Spirit to guide them,  to study, learn and apply the Torah, God’s instructions to their lives. In time, they would learn how to live as children of the God of Israel. They would learn about clean and unclean, they would learn God’s definition of food and to abstain from eating the abominable.  They would learn about His Sabbath’s and appointed times.  They would learn to treat others, as they themselves would want to be treated. They would learn Torah, the instructions of a loving Father, given to His children.

 The Dangers of Legalism

Obedience to God is not legalism. It would appear that Chuck is playing the “bait and switch” game.  I have never heard anyone teach that “you must keep Sabbath to be saved”.  Again…we are talking about simple obedience to God’s Commands.   Is there danger in Legalism by my saying “A Christian should not commit adultery”?

Paul emphasized that the law was a yoke of bondage from which the Christian had been set free.38   Paul made no distinction between moral and ceremonial law.  It was all part of that old covenant which was done away in Christ.39   It was “nailed to the cross.”40     This is the central teaching of the New Testament. 

The preceding statements by Chuck are used in an attempt to bury those who would teach obedience to God’s Commands under a mountain of false theological assumptions. I am sure you have heard these statements before…they are echoed from pulpit to pulpit in these last days. Fortunately, it’s not that difficult for you and I to dig out from under if… we apply some proper context, and recall some warnings from Scripture. Let’s take them one at a time…

“yoke of bondage”… Paul emphasized that we as Christians had been set free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)  No longer were we bound to sin…and no longer were we under the condemnation, the death sentence that it brought. We were free…saved by grace.  Paul asked a good question for Chuck to consider in Romans 3:31…”Do we then make void the law through faith?  Certainly not! On the contrary we establish the law.  In Romans 6:1 Paul said “ What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?  Also, Paul says in Romans 7:12 that “Therefore the law is holy and commandment holy and just and good.”  Does it sound like Paul was teaching people they were free to disobey or ignore God’s Commandments?  Of course not, otherwise Paul would have been a false prophet.  Being instructed to honor one’s mother and father is not a “yoke of bondage”. Paul tells us in Acts 24 14 that he believes “all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets”.  This would include the 4th Commandment. 

Moral and ceremonial law”I agree with Chuck here. Paul understood that any instruction given by the God of the universe is a “Moral Command”. Which means if the Sabbath was nailed to the cross…so were prohibitions against murder…bestiality…etc. 

   Done away with”…”Nailed to the cross…Chuck seems to teach that Jesus did away with the Torah (Law of Moses) when He went to the cross.  Thankfully…Jesus went out of His way to make sure you know different.  In fact He gave commandment saying “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. Matthew 5:17-18   At this point I always encourage people to note that heaven and earth are still here…and that not all prophecy has been fulfilled.  Now, Jesus went on and issued a very interesting warning to all of us, to which bible teachers should take special note.   He said 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. I am not sure exactly what “least in the kingdom” means…but the point should be clear.  Telling people that all of God’s law was “done away with” or “nailed to the cross” is not wise according to Scripture.   

Central teaching of the New Testament”…Chuck says that the “central teaching” of the “New” testament is that God’s Commandments are no longer valid.  Is it any wonder that within some congregations today we have arguments over whether homosexuality is sin?    

There are no grounds for imposing the Sabbath on the Christian, who is free from the burden of the law’s demands.    The Spirit of Christ enables him to fulfill God’s will apart from the external observances of the law.

free from the burden of the law’s demands”… Actually, Scripture teaches that we have been set free from sin (Romans 6:18,22)…not free to sin by breaking God’s law. God’s will is for us to obey Him out of a heart of love.  And to say that because I now have the Spirit of God in me…I am somehow “enabled” to obey God while not obeying Him is quite frankly nonsense.

Burden of the laws demands”…The law is not a burden according to Scripture.  David delighted in God’s Torah. I would encourage all to read Psalm 119 and then consider 1John 5:2 which says “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.  And His commandments are not burdensome.”

The Spirit of Christ”…Here is what the Scripture says about “walking in the Spirit…”  “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  (WHY??? Listen closely to Paul’s answer…) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God nor indeed can be.  So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:5-8) Friends, Paul makes it clear that to live according to the Spirit is to subject oneself to God’s law.  Thus we can be assured if we are being “enabled” to disobey any of God’s Commandments…it is not by the Spirit of God. 

The Sabbath is mentioned along with the festivals and new moons, all of which are declared to be “only a shadow of what is to come.”41   To “observe days, and months, and seasons, and years” is deemed to be slaves to “the weak and beggarly elemental spirits.”42   The ritual observance of days is a characteristic of “the man who is weak in faith.”43

Interestingly enough, Peter warned us about men who would not understand the words of Paul and told us to be on guard lest we be led away in serious error.  Concerning Paul and his writings Peter says that there are in them “some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.  You therefore, beloved since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; (2 Peter 3:16-17)

weak and beggarly elements”…If you really believe Paul would refer to God’s Appointed Times….His Sabbath’s as “weak and beggarly” then by all means have nothing to do with any of them. If however you struggle with that notion…take heart.  In Galatians 4 Paul is talking to former pagans (Gal 4:8) and shows great concern that they are returning to some of their former practices. (Gal 4:9) In verse 10 Paul says “You observe days and months and seasons and years.  I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.” Nowhere does Paul refer to the Sabbath in this letter. And after all, how could former pagans “turn again” to keeping the Sabbath, something which they had never done before.

“The ritual observance of days is a characteristic of the man who is weak in faith”   *****(Interestingly Chuck himself has already pointed out that it was the custom of Jesus to observe the Sabbath…)***** We in fact know from Scripture that Jesus kept all of God’s Appointed Times.  The Gospel of Luke tells us very plainly that it was a “characteristic” of Jesus to observe the Sabbath. (Luke 4:16)  Let’s read it just for fun…”And as His custom was He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read.” As a matter of fact, Scripture makes it clear that He kept all of God’s Appointed Times as outlined in Leviticus chapter 23.  What about Paul?  Was he “weak in faith”? Acts 17:2 says “Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures”.  What about Isaiah? What about Daniel? Being labeled as weak in faith from a “religious leader” really does not surprise me in these last days.  Revelation speaks about the persecution of those who “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17) Interestingly, it was always the “religious leaders” who were persecuting Jesus and his followers.

The writer of Hebrews emphasizes that the Sabbath is also a type of “God’s rest” which is an inheritance of all the people of God.44     We are urged, in a larger sense, to “strive to enter that rest.”

I agree 100%.  Notice here…Chuck makes the point that Sabbath is for “all the people of God” and that we should “strive to enter that rest”.  Curiously…Chuck just got thru saying that those who observe such things are “slaves to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits” and “weak in faith”.  Am I missing something?

The Sunday “Sabbath”

The first day of the week is now widely observed as the Sabbath.  But where has God expressly authorized this change?

  Not to be found.

 After His resurrection, which took place on the first day of the week, Jesus appeared to His disciples on four occasions which were on a Sunday.45     This becomes a major part of the basis of the veneration of Sunday as the “Lord’s Day,” ostensibly replacing the traditional Sabbath.

There you have it.  Chuck has correctly given you the Scriptural justification that Christianity uses to nullify one of God’s Ten Commandments.  Talk about flawed hermeneutics.   Notice that Chuck admits that “This becomes a major part of the basis of the veneration of Sunday as the “Lord’s Day,” ostensibly replacing the traditional Sabbath.” Are you willing to go along with changing one of God’s Commands based upon this line of reasoning? Jesus never said or did anything to suggest any change of the 4th Commandment. 

  Pentecost, the birth of the church, was also, by definition, on a Sunday.46  They did meet on a Sunday night,47  but that would actually be Monday in Jewish reckoning. 

No comment…

 While these are suggestive, they are far from a conclusive teaching.48    (The oft-quoted 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2  is also unclear: “…that there be no gatherings when I come.”?) 

They are not even suggestive.  In the wildest stretch of the imagination they never suggest altering or abolishing the 4th Commandment. 

 The Hebrew Sabbath, has, of course, continued to be observed by non-Christian Jews to the present time.  During the first century some Jewish Christians also continued the practice of observing the seventh day of the week, as well as the assembly for worship on the first day of the week, but their influence on Christianity, discernible for several centuries, dwindled rapidly.  It has been suggested that with the rise of anti-Semitism in the early centuries, Sunday worship was a convenient means of excluding the Jewish believers.

 Chuck hits on something very important here…anti-Semitism in the Roman church.  It has much to do with this issue…

Caveats About the “Early Church”

The writings of a number of the early church fathers in the 2nd and 3rd centuries support the tradition of Sunday worship.  However, the views of the early church after the book of Acts is, in some views, an unreliable basis to establish doctrine.

Count me in the ranks of those “some” who Chuck mentions. To establish any doctrine that contradicts the foundation of Scripture is wrong.  Paul says that all Scripture is useful for “doctrine”. Early teachings of the catholic church are not.

When Jesus sent His Seven Letters to Seven Churches (Revelation Chapters 2 and 3), each was surprised by their report card.  Those that thought they were doing well weren’t.  Those that thought they were not doing well, were.  Even by the late 90s the church was already substantially deviant from the Lord’s desires.

Now…add another 2000 years… 

Also, eschatological errors (i.e., Amillennialism, et al.) were rampant, as well as errors due to the Gnostic influences, etc.  Furthermore, the rising anti-Semitism in the early church, along with the allegorical hermeneutics promoted by Origen and later by Augustine, makes their views regarding the Sabbath rather suspect. 

 Some good points…

These anti-Semitical tendencies subsequently rose to include the emergence of “blood libel” and other abuses that were reflected in the Crusades and other medieval horrors.  Most of us as Gentiles have little appreciation for the abuses suffered by the Jews-under the banner of “Christ”-unless we have undertaken a careful study of the bloody history of the church.49

 I would suggest reading “The Popes Against the Jews” written by David I. Kertzer.  It can be purchased online from Amazon or such.  It is very well written and documented. 

The “Christian Sabbath” Views

 There are, of course, many diverse views regarding Sunday as the “Christian” Sabbath, and there are those who strongly adhere to the traditional Saturday as the Sabbath.  Many of us may have encountered the legalistic zeal of the Seventh-Day Adventists over this “Seventh Day” issue; however, it is not the Seventh Day which emerges as the critical theological issue – it is the role of the law, and our liberty in Christ, that is really the fundamental issue.

Having failed to show from Scripture where the Sabbath was changed or done away with…Chuck will now make another attempt at doing away with all of God’s law in direct contradiction to the words of Jesus in Matthew 5.  I am not a Seventh Day Adventist by the way…

The Epistles to the Galatians, Colossians, and Romans far overshadow any particular cultural customs and ritual observances, and clearly emphasize our freedom from all external rules as the key to the entire New Testament Gospel.  That, indeed, is the “Good News.”

For the sake of truth please consider…the 4th Commandment is not a cultural custom or ritual observance.  It is a instruction from the King of the Universe.  And again…we have never been given permission or “freedom” to decide what is right and what is wrong.  Chuck’s assertion that the “Good News” is freedom from “all external rules” and “key to entire New Testament Gospel” is quite troubling. The Gospel message that Jesus brought is clear from the beginning of Matthew and continues thru the book of Revelation…   From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  (Matthew 4:17)   Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14)   My salvation rests 100% on what Jesus did for me on the cross…but that does not give me permission to break God’s Commandments.  

Concerning the Epistles to the Galatians, Colossians, and Romans…the following is taken from my “Seven Filters” teaching concerning the proper context of Paul’s writings…    

We know that Paul loved the Lord, and we know that Paul devoted his life to serving his Master. He was a bondservant of  Messiah. We also know, and this is the important part…that Paul would never teach people to disobey the God of Israel, buthe did come against anyone who tried to add to what Jesus had done on the cross. This is what we see happening in the book of Galatians for example.  In Galatians 5:4 Paul says “You have become estranged from Messiah, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace”.  Remember, Paul was not against the law. His own words bear witness to this. So, what was he against?  He was against those who would teach the law as a means for salvation.  Do you see the difference? Most Bible teachers have missed the context of Paul’s writings, substituting obedience for justification.  Paul was not teaching us to ignore God’s commandments when he said “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondagePaul was warning us not to listen to those who would seek to put conditions on God’s unconditional love.  Rest assured that Paul does not teach us to ignore the instructions of the Living God. In fact, if he did, then he was a false prophet as according to Deuteronomy 13 and deserving of death by stoning.  Speaking of stoning, do you know why Stephen was stoned to death?  If you remember he too was falsely accused of something.  You can find the answer in Acts 6:11-14.  Hold on to your hat and check it out!! And remember, this is after Jesus went to the cross!!

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days :  –  Colossians 2:16

 I do not mean to be offensive, but please consider.  If Chuck Missler is using this verse in proper context then I would assume it would be perfectly acceptable for me to get drunk every day…feast on bloody batwings and of course ignore one of the Ten commandments… namely the 4th.  Of course…we know this is not what Paul was advocating.   Approaching Colossians 2 with proper hermeneutics will yield the student a much clearer view of Paul’s point.  I will let you do the homework this time.  Search Colossians chapter two for context…  Hint…keep your ears open for words and phrases such as “deception”…“persuasive words”…“philosophy”… “empty deceit”…“traditions of men” along with “basic principles of the world” and ask yourself whether Paul’s concern is with those who are wanting to obey God’s Commandments.

 It is interesting that Paul emphasizes that it is the “weaker” ones in faith that burden themselves with such things (Cf. Romans 14:1-6).

Because Chuck brings this up for the second time…I will speak very direct. It bothers me to hear someone in a position of leadership or authority attempt to intimidate others into quiet subjection to their point of view by denigration or “labeling.”  It especially troubles me when it is done by taking Scripture out of context.  Let us remember that Paul considered the Berean’s to be of a more “noble character” because they would not just take him at his word, but would “search the Scriptures” to see if what he said was true.  (Acts 17:11) Paul did not consider them “weak in the faith” for being burdened with a heart for truth.  Paul himself tells us to “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thess 5:21) 

Prophetic Implications

 From the standpoint of Bible prophecy, however, there are some provocative enigmas which also emerge from the Seventh Day issue.  The Sabbath is an intrinsic part of the creation, specifically for man.50     It isn’t intrinsically limited to the Mosaic Covenant.  Sabbaths will continue as a basis for worship in the Millennium: For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.  And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.  Isaiah 66:22, 23

A very good point…one that conflicts of course with Chuck’s earlier assertion that the Sabbath instructions were only for a certain “dispensation”.

The Sabbath will also be honored in Ezekiel’s Temple: the gate to inner court will be closed six days and only opened on the Sabbath and on the day of the new moon.51

Very true…

Since the Sabbath apparently survives the church period,52 this seems to cloud the view that Sunday replaced the Sabbath. 

Conclusions

The veneration of the first day as a memorial of the Resurrection is certainly appropriate, although its historical role as a replacement day of worship is arguable.  Its formal institution appears to have been an expedient exploited by Emperor Constantine and following.53 The Sabbath is intended as a time of devotion, not a subjection to burdensome rules.  It is for the benefit of man, to be taken advantage of.  As a demonstration of God’s love, and a partaking of His blessing, the seventh day apparently has not been permanently set aside. 

Our God is Jewish.  “Salvation is of the Jews.”54   All of our benefits are derivative from the Abrahamic covenant.  We are grafted in the true olive tree, from the root of Abrahamic covenant (Romans 11).  We should not forget that we serve the King of the Jews.  We are members of a church founded by Jewish leaders; our highest authority is a Jewish Bible. 

While we have been freed from the law, we still can  enjoy the benefits of Creation.In our culture, we enjoy two free days each week, in any case.  The first-day worship is thus available to us as an opportunity.  The seventh-day Sabbath is also still available to us as an opportunity,  yet not under the law:One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.   –  Romans 14:5

While we may not know the exact issue Paul addresses in Romans 14:5…we can be sure it is not the issue of whether or not to honor the 7th day Sabbath Command.  Paul begins Romans 14 by saying not to dispute “doubtful things”.   Did Paul have any doubts about whether or not to obey the 4th Commandment?  Does Chuck really think Paul taught everyone to just “follow the dictates of their hearts”?

 So the question is, Can we enjoy the benefits of the Sabbath without “coming under the law?” [We adopt other Jewish practices to our benefit without incurring the burdens of the law: circumcision (for hygienic reasons), some of the dietary practices, etc.]It is clear to me that Adam, Cain, Enoch, Noah, et al., all had instruction on the seventh day of rest.  It was the pattern in Exodus 16 before the manna was given and was memorialized in the Decalogue.  In addition, it was observed by Christ ceremonially.The error we can easily fall into, however, is legalism and its deprivations of the fundamental blessings of our redemption.  (Study Paul’s definitive teaching in Romans.)

Romans 3:20 “therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight…

Romans 3:31Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not!  On the contrary, we establish the law. 

 Romans 6:1 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!  How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”

Romans 6:15  What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!  Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

Scriptural definition of sin…”Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” 1John 3:4

Our Personal Resolution

Nan and I, personally, have resolved-in the absence of travel or other logistic or scheduling constraints-to “remember the Sabbath Day” by adopting the following procedure:1. From Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, we “set aside” the time for study, meditation, and as a departure from our normal routines.2. We have resolved to do whatever we do deliberately and together.3. There are no other “rules.”We don’t make it a “burden”: we simply attempt to avail ourselves of His intended blessing.  We attempt – in an informal but deliberate way – to study and reflect on His Word and find ways to praise Him.(Our schedule usually has us traveling or speaking on weekends.  If we were ever to organize our own local fellowship, we would prefer to meet Friday evenings, and leave the weekend free for family time.)

I am encouraged that the Misslers seek to honor the Sabbath day, even if it’s only when convenient.  I have tried to clearly address the issues in his teaching that I believe to be contrary to the whole of Scripture.  Chuck’s assertion that obedience to God’s Commandments is somehow optional with no real consequences for disobedience is wrong. Teaching that the Spirit of God somehow enables one to obey God without actually obeying His Commandments is nonsense in my view. Teaching that Messiah came and did away with His own Torah is most definitely wrong according to Messiah Himself.  And his teaching that those concerned with obeying one of God’s Commandments somehow demonstrates a “weakness in faith” is most certainly wrong.  I am hoping that Chuck will now “play the Berean” and correct or clarify these points and others in his teaching as needed.            

*  *  *This article was excerpted from our Briefing Package, The Seventh Day .  A subsequent article will review some of the historical events surrounding the institution of Sunday as the traditional day of worship.This article was originally published in the
May 2000 Personal Update NewsJournal.
This article was excerpted from our Briefing Package, The Seventh Day .  A subsequent article will review some of the historical events surrounding the institution of Sunday as the traditional day of worship.
This article was originally published in the
May 2000 Personal Update NewsJournal.

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**NOTES**


1.      Genesis 7:2. 2.      The plan of redemption was being taught in Genesis  3:21: not by their own efforts, but by the shedding of innocent blood they would be covered. 3.      Ezekiel 44:23, 24. 4.      It is significant that there are no “evenings” and “mornings” connected to the seventh  day.  The Hebrew terms erev and boker, connoting “evening” and “morning,” may have had deeper implications in the staging of entropy reductions; see Stretching the Heavens . 5.      Exodus 16:22-28. 6.      Exodus 20:8-11. 7.      The six “days” of creation are clarified in Exodus 20:11.  Any problem with “24-hour days” isn’t in Genesis 1; it is here. 8.      Exodus 20:2; Deuternomy 4:13; 5:2-21. 9.      Who was his Creator?  John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16, 17. 10.  Exodus 35:2,3 Leviticus 23:3 26:34. 11.  Isaiah 56:2,4,6,7 58:13,14; Jeremiah 17:20-22. (Cf. Nehemiah 13:19.)  12.  Exodus 25:3. 13.  Exodus 31:14-17. 14.  Leviticus 24:8; Numbers 28:9, 10. 15.  1 Chronicles 9:32; 23:31; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 8:13; 23:4; 31:3. 16.  Leviticus 12:3; John 7:22. 17.  Isaiah 1:12, 13. 18.  Isaiah 58:13,14. 19.  Jeremiah 17:21, 22; Ezekiel 22:8; Amos 8:4. 20.  Jeremiah 17:27; Exodus 20:23, 24. 21.  2 Chronicles 36:20, 21. 22.  A. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Volume II, p.777. 23.  Luke 4:16; Mark 1:21; 3:1; Luke 13:10. 24.  Matthew 5:17-20; 15:1-6; 19:16-19; 22:35-40; Luke 16:17. 25.  Matt hew 5:21-48;19:3-9. 26.  Matthew 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5. 27.  Matthew 12:1-4; Mark 2:23-26; Luke 6:1-4. 28.  Matthew 12:5. 29.  Leviticus 12:3; John 7:22, 23. 30.  Mark 3:1-5; Matthew 12:8-14. 31.  Luke 13:10-17. 32.  Mark 1:21-27; Mark 1:29-31; John 5:1-9; Mark 3:1-6 (and  Matthew 12:8-14); Luke 13:10-17; Luke 14:1-6; John 9:1-14. 33.  Mark 1:32. 34.  Acts 2:46; 5:42. 35.  Acts 9:20; 13:14; 14:1; 17:1, 2, 10; 18:4. 36.  Acts 21:20. 37.  Acts 15. 38.  Galatians 3:2, 3; 5:1; et al. 39.  2 Corinthians 3:14. 40.  Colossians  2:14. 41.  Colossians 2:16, 17. 42.  Galatians 4:9, 10; Cf. Colossians 2:20. 43.  Romans 14:1-6. 44.  Hebrews 4:1-11. 45.  Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1. 46.  Acts 2:1. 47.  Acts 20:7. 48.  The assertion that “we never see Christ meeting with his disciples on any other day” appears to be contradicted by John 20:26, “… after eight days again…” 49.  See our briefing package, The Kingdom of Blood for a shocking survey and its prophetic implications. 50.  Genesis 2:2, 3. 51.  Ezekiel 46:1ff. 52.  Matthew 24:20; Isaiah 66:22, 23; Ezekiel 46:1ff. 53.  We will review this in a follow-up article in next month’s Personal UPDATE. 54.  John 4:22.