In our final installment in the series on Good and Necessary Consequence arguments (see part 1, 2, 3, and 4), I will examine a question that is often asked of those who insist on Sunday being the Lord’s Day and the day in which corporate worship ought to occur:
How do we know that the Sabbath has been changed to Sunday? Scripture says the Sabbath is the 7th day, Saturday.
Without question, this is an important question and not to be brushed aside quickly. It is true that it was the practice of the Jews since the Exodus (and even today) to celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday. Therefore, the burden of proof is on the sabbatarian to demonstrate why this day has changed.
It is without question that the Sabbath’s institution was on the 7th day. Let us look at this day and think on why it was changed. Let us remember that our argument must be derived from a close reading of the text (even if not expressly stated, the meaning must not be remote nor contrary to the text) and the conclusion must follow necessarily from the premises. So let’s lay out the argument.
- God instituted one day in seven for rest at creation (Gen. 2:3).
- God institutes the seventh day for rest at creation (Gen. 2:3).
- F. Junius says that “the substance of this law is natural and to be observed of all men alike, namely, that every seventh day should be holy unto God.”
- God expressed this creation ordinance in law of Moses under the 4th commandment (Exod. 20:8-11).
- This was the continuing practice of the Jews even until the time of Jesus (this needs little proof; the Book of Acts demonstrates clearly that the Jews gathered on the seventh day for worship in the synagogue).
- The seventh day is sanctified (Gen.2:3)
- The early church gathered on the Lord’s Day, which receives its name from being the day on which Christ was resurrected (Mark 16:2; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev 1:10; Acts 20:7).
- On the Lord’s Day, the administration of Word and Sacrament occurred which are the essential elements of worship (Acts 20:7).
- In fact, we see Paul commanding the gathering of the saints for the purpose of relieving the poor on the first day suggesting further the gathering of the church on the Lord’s Day (1 Cor 16:2).
- Jesus calls himself “the Lord of the Sabbath” (Matt 12:8), placing his dominion and authority over the Sabbath, able to authorize and to direct it according to his wishes.
- We are told to practice as the apostles – who witnessed to Christ and led by the Spirit of Christ – practiced in Philippians 4:9.
- We see in the New Testament changes in the ministers of the gospel (Eph 4:11), and the ministry (no more animal sacrifices, we are living sacrifices; Romans 12:1), and the sacraments (from circumcision and passover to baptism and Lord’s Supper, 1 Cor 10:2-4).
- The old things have passed away and all things have become new in Christ ( 2 Corinthians 5:1
- Athanasius on this point: As long as the old world did last, so long continued the observation of the Sabbath; but when another generation did succeed, it was not needful that this new people should any longer keep the day of the former nation; but rather the beginning of the second creation and age; and when is that beginning, but at the time when our Lord did rise again?” – De Sabbatis et Circumcisione
CONCLUSIONS FROM THE ABOVE:
- The Sabbath continues as a perpetual command, given as natural law and written into the moral law of the ten commandments.
- The reference to the 7th day has changed under the gospel given a new administration in Christ, as the new creation is marked at the first day when Christ is resurrected.
- Since that time, the sabbath continues as every seventh day from Christ’s resurrection, which is the beginning of the new Creation. Thereby, the command of keeping the seventh day remains. Athanasius says this on this point:
The Sabbath was the end of the first creation; but the Lord’s Day is the beginning of the second creation in which Christ did renew and restore the old man. Therefore, as of the first people he would have the Sabbath day to be kept for the memory of the end of the first things; so we keep the Lord’s Day for the memory of the beginning of the second repairing of the same; for He did not make any new creature but did renew the old. – De Sabbatis et Circumcisione
- The apostles’ practice was to gather on the Lord’s Day as an example to the church to keep that day holy, as the Sabbath is holy.
Given all of the above, the Lord’s Day is the Christian Sabbath. Though the opinions of learned men are not equal with Scripture, one can find in the writings of Athanasius, Augustine, Peter Martyr, Zanchius, Musculus, Calvin, Beza, Junius, Perkins, and Aquinas confirmation of this point.
Moreover, the Westminster Confession of Faith teaches us thusly:
As it is 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 has particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: 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, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord’s Day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.