The Sabbath, Sunday, Every Day or No Day at All?
Mainstream Christianity has many reasons for not keeping the biblical Sabbath. But what does the Bible teach about the proper day of rest and worship?
Mainstream Christianity, particularly Catholics and Protestants, have a plethora of religious days that are considered special and sacred. The one day that is highly esteemed by almost every denomination of Christianity is Sunday. However, in recent years, other ideas have entered mainstream Christianity regarding this topic:
- Some believe every day is holy and is a Sabbath to God. According to this view, God no longer considers the seventh day special.
- Others say there is no such thing as holy time or a day set aside for rest or worship. Christians are only required to “rest in Christ.”
There is even a trend for larger churches to offer more variety of worship times—to make it more convenient for people’s busy schedules. So, in some groups, people can go to church on Sunday, Wednesday evening, Friday evening, Saturday or any other time worship services are made available.
But is this confusing variety of ideas God’s will? Does the Bible have anything to say about when and how we are to worship God and rest from our labors?
How does Sunday observance—or observance every day or no day—stand up under the revealing light of Scripture?Mass confusion
How does Sunday observance—or observance every day or no day—stand up under the revealing light of Scripture? The answers to these questions are found in a few simple, biblically grounded points:
- The Creator rested on the seventh day. Genesis 2:2-3 reveals: “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done. … Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” God set the Sabbath apart as holy at the very beginning.
- God commanded Sabbath observance in the 10 Commandments. The Fourth Commandment clearly identifies the seventh-day Sabbath as a law of God. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God” (Exodus 20:8-10).
Since the 10 Commandments are reinforced in multiple places throughout the New Testament, the logical conclusion is that the fourth of those commandments is still binding (Matthew 5:19; 1 Corinthians 7:19).
- Jesus rested and taught on the Sabbath. Luke 4:16 states, “And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance defines the Greek word for custom as “prescribed by habit or law.” Jesus’ way of living was to worship God on the Sabbath.
A study of His life and ministry reveals that the Pharisees constantly accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath. But they never accused Him of trying to abolish it! That was never the issue! The main point that Jesus made was that He was and is “Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28). He had the right to decide how it was to be observed. The issue was never whether or not it was important or binding!
Consider 1 John 2:6: “He who says he abides in Him [Christ] ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” If we find that Jesus had a different standard and practice of worship than we do, wouldn’t it be wise to reconsider our practices?
- Paul and the early New Testament Church observed the Sabbath. In Acts 13:14-16 we read about Paul and his associates keeping the Sabbath in the synagogue. A key to notice in this section is that Paul preached to both Jews and gentiles!
The majority of Protestant churches teach that the New Testament Church met on Sunday—instead of the seventh-day Sabbath. But notice the scripture! After the Jews left the synagogue, the gentiles pleaded with Paul to preach to them the next Sabbath (verse 42). Verse 44 then records, “On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God.”
Why didn’t Paul separate the gentiles from the Jews by telling them that He would continue his preaching on the very next day—the first day of the week? Why didn’t he inform them that they were no longer obligated to worship on the obsolete seventh-day Sabbath? Paul said to imitate him as he imitated Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). Since it was Jesus’ practice to keep the seventh-day Sabbath, therefore it was Paul’s! Should it not be yours?
To learn more about Paul and the Sabbath, read “Did Paul Change the Sabbath Command?”
- The Sabbath will be observed in the Millennium. Isaiah 66:23 declares, “‘And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me,’ says the LORD.”
This future era will commence at the return of Jesus Christ to earth (verse 15). Isaiah 66 pictures a future era of Jesus Christ’s reign on earth, often called the Millennium, and it includes Sabbath observance. If it will be kept then, why not now?
Search the Scriptures daily
You don’t have to be confused about the proper day of rest and worship. There’s a great example in the Bible about how to prove what is right. Later in the apostle Paul’s ministry, after he preached to the Jews and the Greeks in the synagogue in Berea, the Bereans searched the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was correct (Acts 17:11).
Why not follow the example of the Bereans? Search the Scriptures to see if the seventh-day Sabbath should be observed today.
Then act on what you learn.
We publish many resources about the biblical Sabbath day, including a new booklet, The Sabbath: A Neglected Gift of God. Download your free copy today.