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Br. Samuel Babu, Believers Brethren Assembly, (BBA), Majlis - Bahrain For the last few days, we have been relentlessly praying for Br. Samuel Babu, who suffered Cardiac Problems and was admitted in Salmaniya Medical Complex, Bahrain. It was well pleasing for our Lord to call HIS child to the Eternal Home, where there is no pain, no sorrow, no tears, no sickness and no death. He went to be with the LORD around 10:30 PM Bahrain Time today (Friday 23rd 2015). Let us uphold the grieving family members to the Throne of Grace. May the Lord bestow upon them heavenly Grace, Peace and strength and console them with the word of God.
 
 
 
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

WHAT IS THE TEACHING OF THE SEVENTH DAY ADVENTISTS ON SABBATH?

Evg. Jacob Thomas, Pathanamthitta.

  

We need to give much care in studying this topic because this is a topic by which the Seventh-day Adventist accuses the Christians of breaking the commandment of the Lord.

 

The first question we may ask:  Is the Seventh-day Adventist right in insisting that the Seventh day of the week is the only right Lord's Day for us to observe, in obedience to the Fourth commandment?

 

Here we need to recall how this doctrine originated among the Adventists. A retired captain (Joseph Bates) came to this conviction through reading an article in a periodical that the seventh day is the proper day to observe. At the same period of time, Adventists of New Hampshire were influenced by a lay woman (Mrs. Rachel Oakes) to keep the Seventh day as the day of worship. Bates contacted the Adventists at New Hampshire and wrote a tract about the Sabbath. All the Adventist groups accepted this view. This was followed by the vision of the prophetess, Ellen G. White, who supported the observance of Sabbath. In the vision she said that she saw the Ten Commandments with a halo of glory around the Sabbath Commandment.

 

So it is very clear that this Sabbath teaching originated among the Adventist not with any thorough Bible study, nor through any well trained Biblical Scholars. It is clear that this teaching commenced with untrained lay people and later confirmed with the vision from another lady.

 

Then we ask the question: On the basis of this misapprehension of the Seventh Day Adventists, can they overthrow the first-day Sunday, which has been observed by all the churches of Christendom since the beginning of the Christian era?

 

Now let us look in to some of the arguments which the Adventists use to advance their position.

 

1. They maintain that the Sabbath is a memorial of Creation, that had no ceremonial significance by foreshadowing something yet to come, but it had only commemorative significance, pointing back to the creation of the world. Since God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day, the seventh-day-ness of the Sabbath was not a temporary feature of the day which was later to be changed, but always remained part of the Sabbath Commandment.

 

We may answer to this argument as follows. The Bible indicates itself that the Sabbath points forward as well as backward. In the fourth chapter of Hebrews a comparison is made between the rest on the Sabbath Day and the rest in heavenly glory. The inspired author is referring to the future heavenly blessedness when he says, in verse 9, "There remaineth therefore a sabbath rest (sabbatismos) for the people of God." Obviously, therefore, the Sabbath is a type of heavenly rest, and does not have merely commemorative significance.

 

The position of the historic Christian Church on this matter is well set forth in the Westminister Confession of faith: “As it is of the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in his Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him (Ex. 20:8,10,11; Isa. 56:2,4,6,7): which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week (Gen.2:2,3; ICor.16:1, 2; Acts 20:7), which in Scripture is called the Lord's day (Rev.1:10), and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath (Ex.20:8, 10, with Mt.5:17,18)”.

 

2. Seventh-day Adventists cite Revelation 14 to buttress their position on the Sabbath: "We believe that the restoration of the Sabbath is indicated in the Bible prophecy of Revelation 14:9-12." It is very important for everyone to find out what the text of Revelation 14:9-12 speaks on Sabbath observance. Read Revelation 14: 9-12, you cannot find any reference to Sabbath in this passage. One can perhaps excuse a retired sea captain for imagining that he could see a denunciation of the first-day Sabbath in this passage, but for an entire denomination to adopt this interpretation is far more serious matter. By this type of irresponsible exegesis anyone can prove anything from the Bible, as is done by many cults.

 

3. Seventh-day Adventists assert that the New Testament emphasizes the observance of the seventh day as the Sabbath. For the proof they point to the fact that both Jesus and Paul observed the seventh day rather than the first. This argument, however, is not difficult to meet. Our Lord observed the seventh day before His resurrection because He was at that time bound to the Old Testament regulation. But it is significant to note, however, that after His resurrection He appeared to the apostles on two successive first days of the week. As far as the Apostle Paul is concerned, he went to Jewish synagogues on the seventh day Sabbath because he wished to witness to Jews, whom he could find there on that day. If the Christians attend the seventh day in order to witness to the Adventists, that attendance will not make them Seventh-day Adventists. Nevertheless Paul addressed a gathering of Christians at Troas on the first day of the week.

 

What proof is there now from the New Testament itself that the observance of the Sabbath was changed from the seventh to the first day of the week? Let us note the following Biblical facts.

 

1.      Jesus arose from the dead on the first day of the week (John 20:1), thus designating the first day as the one now to be observed.

2.      Jesus appeared to ten of His disciples on the evening of that first day of the week (John 20:19ff).

3.      On the following first day of the week, Jesus appeared to the eleven disciples (John 20:26ff.).

4.      The promised coming of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled on the first day of the week (Acts 2:1ff.). Since this is an event of as great importance as the incarnation of Christ, it is highly significant that the Holy Spirit came on the Sunday.

5.      On the same Sunday only Peter preached the Gospel message for the first time (Acts 2:14ff.), and 3000 people were converted to Christ (Acts 2:41).

6.      At Troas the Christians of that city assembled for the worship on the first day of the week and Paul preached to them (Acts 20:6-7). But with respect to this passage a leading Seventh-day Adventist writer says, “The first day of the week (Bible time) begins Saturday night at sundown and ends Sunday night at sundown. Inasmuch as this meeting was held on the first day of the week and at night, it must therefore have been on what we call Saturday night, the first day having begun at sundown.”

 

Lickey's reasoning assumes that Luke was following the Jewish system of reckoning, which began a day at sundown. F. F. Bruce contends that Luke was not using the Jewish mode of reckoning, but the Roman, that is from midnight to midnight. That means the meeting was not held in Saturday evening but the Sunday evening. Another matter raised by the Adventist on this portion is that it was not a regular service but simply a farewell meeting, so it does not have much bearing on the meeting of Christian worship. To this it may be replied that Luke's statement, "We being gathered together to break bread" strongly suggests (though it does not finally prove) the thought that this was a regular meeting at which they ate together and celebrated the Lord's Supper. If there was no special significance in the day on which the Christians met, why should Luke take the trouble to say, as he does, "on the first day of the week"? This item of information could well have been omitted if it conveyed a fact of no importance. That Luke mentions it shows that already at this time Christians were gathering for worship on the first day of the week.

 

7.      Paul instructed the Christians at Corinth to make contribution for the poor in Jerusalem on the first day of the week: "Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come"(I Cor. 16:2). Adventists reject this passage as the proof for the observance of the first day as of worship. M. L. Andreasen argues that this passage does not deal with the collection taken in the church, but that it instructs the Corinthian Christians to lay aside money at home, as they had been prospered; this would involve some bookkeeping, which would be inappropriate on the Sabbath; hence Paul instructs them to do this on Sunday. Lickey also put forth a similar interpretation: A church member runs a small shop all the week, let us say. Friday afternoon he closes early enough to prepare for the Sabbath. There is no time to figure accounts. But when the Sabbath is past, and the first day of the week comes, he is to check his net earning and lay aside a proper sum, not at church, but at home.

 

We shall have to agree that Paul is here probably not speaking of an offering which is to be taken at a church service. The expression par’ heautoo tithetoo is in all likelihood to be understood as meaning: let him lay aside by himself, that is, at home. Again, however, it is important to note that the first day of the week is specifically designated for this laying aside. Why should Paul say this if the Corinthians regularly met for worship on Saturday? Christian giving is the part of our worship; it is to be expected that we engage in this form of worship on the day on which we gather for public prayers. Surely not every member of the Corinthian church was a shopkeeper who needed to do some figuring before he could determine how much he should give; surely, also, even the shopkeepers could do their figuring on the evening before the day of worship as well as on the day after. The only plausible reason for mentioning the first day in this passage is that this was the customary day on which Christians were meeting for worship.

 

8.      The Apostle John wrote, in Revelation 1:10, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day (en tee kuriakee heemera). The Greek word kuriakee is an adjective meaning “belonging to the Lord”; literally, therefore, the expression means: on the day belonging to the Lord. Seventh-day Adventists contend that the expression the ‘Lord’s day’, as here used refers to Saturday. However there is no truth in it, because, universally this day is understood to be referring to Sunday, the first day of the week. This stand is well supported by standard commentators and the standard lexicons. Much more than this, early Christian writings, like Didachee and Ignatius’s Letter to the Magnesians also reveal that the Lord’s Day means Sunday. Now it very much clear that the Adventists are completely wrong in their stand, trying to prove the Lord’s day as Saturday, they lack proper literal and grammatical interpretation. The statement of John the Apostle is the best evidence that the day Sunday had already became the day of worship among the churches then, because he is the youngest of the Apostles who lived for a long time.

 

4. Seventh-day Adventists contend that “the earliest authentic instance, in early church writings, of the first day of the week being called ‘Lord’s Day’ was by Clement of Alexandria, near the close of the second Century”.

 

This statement is quite contrary to the fact, and will be made evident from the following quotations.

 

a. Revelation 1:10, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.”

b. From the Epistle of Ignatius To the Magnesians, Section 9: “If then those who had walked in ancient practices attained unto newness of hope, no longer observing sabbaths but fashoning their lives after the Lord’s day, on which our life also rose through him. . .”

c. From the Didachee, or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, Section 14: “And on the Lord’s day gather yourselves together and break bread and give thanks. . .”

d. From the Epistle of Barnabas, Section 15: Wherefore also we keep the eight day for rejoicing, in the which also Jesus rose from the dead, and having been manifested ascended in to the heavens.

e. From Justin Martyr’s First Apology, Chapter 67: “But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.”

 

The statement quoted above, and the new Testament evidence previously given, make it quite evident that the change from the seventh day to the first day was not brought about by “the Papacy” as the Seventh-day Adventism contends, but came about long before the Papacy arose as a strong ecclesiastical institution. We conclude that the Adventist position on the Sabbath is not only historically unwarranted, but is also without Scriptural support.

 

  

 
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