The Lord’s Day
By Elder Lawrence Nelson
In this message we are going to discuss a day in which we can worship our God and have full assurance that we are keeping His day holy by obeying God’s holy law as found in the Ten Commandments. Every true Christian believes in the Ten Commandments, and we read in the Bible if we commit sin we break God’s law, for the Bible states in 1 John 3:4, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” And we read in scripture in Ezekiel 18:20, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” On the other hand the Bible tells us who are permitted entrance into heaven, for it declares, “They are those who keep the commandments of God.” Revelation 22:14 says, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” I believe everyone who hears this tape wants to go to heaven. Every Christian believes that Jesus is now in heaven and is soon coming back to this earth to take those who obey Him to Paradise.
Let us pause here, as is our custom, to seek for divine aid in our search for the Lord’s Day. Our heavenly Father, in the name of our dear Jesus we ask that Thy Holy Spirit guide us as we search for the Lord’s Day. We thank Thee for this divine guidance, Amen.
We have discovered in these sermons that we can never rely on tradition for guidance for this is what Satan uses to teach his false doctrines. Only the Word of God, as found in the Bible, can be trusted. For a starting place let us agree on one point which no Protestant or Catholic will object. From creation to the time of Christ’s crucifixion every saint of God observed the seventh-day Sabbath. Amen? Now we are ready for a question: How come most churches of our day keep Sunday, the first day of the week? If God expects us to keep Sunday as His holy day after the cross we should be able to find such a change in the New Testament, right?
Did it ever occur to you that the pagans, from the beginning of time, up to the cross always kept Sunday in honor of their sun god? As a matter of fact they still do. Even in the Muslim world, which keeps Friday as a holy day, you will find they also keep Sunday. I know, for I have traveled in their lands and you just try to buy something on Sunday – everything is closed. Could it be that all major religions of the world are wrong in their day of worship?
Let us explore the New Testament to see if we can discover Sunday sacredness. Some will be surprised to find that the word “Sunday” does not appear in scripture. But we find the New Testament tells us that we should follow the example of Jesus as found in 1 Peter 2:21, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” As we examine which day Jesus worshiped we discover that He attended church on the seventh day according to the commandment, for the Bible states in Luke 4:16, “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.”
I remember taking our little daughter for a walk by a waterfall. The path became very slippery and I was afraid she might fall so I asked her to come and take my hand. I shall never forget her answer, “Daddy, I’m alright. I’m stepping just where you step. I won’t slip and fall.” I looked over my shoulder and sure enough she was stretching her little legs the utmost trying to step in every spot I was stepping in as her father. There is no question, the New Testament counsels us to follow in the steps of our Savior.
Since we have found that Sunday is not found in the scriptures. We noted that the Bible writers always called the day of the week by a number such as “the first day,” “the second day,” “the third day” and so on, but “the seventh day” is called the Sabbath in the New Testament. This brings us to another Bible fact; the first day of the week always comes after the seventh-day Sabbath.
As we continue our search for the Lord’s Day we are amazed to find that the first day is mentioned only eight times in the New Testament. This should not be too difficult to find proof for Sunday sacredness. We will carefully examine each. Let us begin with the text found in Mark 16:9, “Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.” We have found that Christ rose on the first day and appeared to Mary Magdalene, but there is not one word about Sunday sacredness or that the first day is to be kept in place of the seventh-day Sabbath.
Next turn to our number two text found in Mark 16:1, 2 which reads, “And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had brought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.” Now these verses tell us that Sabbath is past and the first day follows. We are discovering that the weekly cycle back then is exactly the same as it is in our day. We are told that the ladies came to anoint the Lord’s body at the rising of the sun, but not one word about a change to God’s commandment to keep holy Sunday.
This brings us to our third text found in Luke 23:54-56 and continuing to Luke 24:1. “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.” Now this is interesting. All the world knows that Christ was crucified and died on Friday which is called the preparation day. The Sabbath followed. But before sundown on Friday the body of Christ was placed in the sepulchre. The disciples then rested on the Sabbath day according to the fourth commandment. On Sunday morning they brought spices to anoint Christ’s body. So far we are finding nothing about the Lord’s Day being changed to Sunday.
Now let us examine verse number four found in Matthew 28:1, “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.” Now this verse tells of the disciples coming to the tomb on the first day of the week; the Sabbath is past. There is nothing about the first-day worship or a command to keep Sunday holy.
Text number five is John 20:1, “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.” Now we must admit that this scripture reveals the same information of the four previous texts. If there had been a change in the day of worship the Bible would have made this very clear for the book of Matthew was written thirty-two years after the resurrection. The book of Mark was written thirty-six years after the resurrection. The book of Luke was written thirty-five years after the resurrection and the book of John was written sixty-six years after the resurrection.
Now consider John 20:19 – text number six. “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” Here we find a text in which the disciples were gathered together Sunday evening. But why? To keep Sunday holy? To worship the risen Christ? Absolutely not! They are gathered together because they are afraid. They had a right to be afraid for they had been charged with breaking the Roman seal and stealing the body of Christ. They had not gathered to honor the risen Christ.
In fact the Bible tells us that on Sunday evening of the resurrection the disciples did not believe that Jesus was alive. Let me read this from scripture in Mark 16:11-14 in which Mary Magdalene saw Christ after the resurrection and told the disciples. “And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them. Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.”
There are only two more texts in which the first day is mentioned. Let us look at text number seven, 1 Corinthians 16:2. “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” Here we find Paul writing to the brethren in which he tells them he is on his way to Jerusalem and will stop by to gather an offering for those who have been persecuted. Notice the words “lay by him in store” “upon the first day of the week.” This is no church meeting. He is asking that they go over their books at home to see what offering they might be able to give. The Greek word for “store” is spelled “hezuto” meaning “by himself; in his home.” There is nothing about worship.
Now we come to the last text. Here we find Sunday worship on the first day, or do we? Let us read Acts 20:7-13, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. When he therefore was come up again and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted. And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot.”
What day is he talking about? Those of you who know your Bible will remember that the day in scripture begins at sunset. Let us review such texts. Leviticus 23:32, “It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.” Then in Genesis 1:5 we read, “And God called the light Day, and darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” This is exactly how God determines the day in the New Testament. I’m reading in Mark 1:32, “And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils.” So according to the Bible this meeting was held on what we now call Saturday night, that was actually Sunday, the first day since the day begins at sundown.
But I hear some say that their preacher declares that it was holy time because they were participating in the holy communion by breaking bread. But as we search the scriptures we discern the Christians who believed that Christ arose from the dead were so happy that Jesus was alive that they participated in the communion service every day. Listen as I’m reading from Acts 2:46, “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.” Beloved, there is nothing in these eight texts that can be construed to indicate that the first day was now a holy day. On the contrary, this last text reveals that this meeting was held on Saturday night and on Sunday morning Paul traveled twenty miles across the island to meet the boat. Paul was never a Sunday keeper. At the close of his life he testified according to Acts 28:17, “Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.” The truth is that Paul always kept the seventh-day Sabbath as was the custom of the Jews. Time after time you find him keeping the Sabbath. You will never find one place in the New Testaments that Paul kept holy the first day, Sunday, as a holy day.
My friend, it is not safe to follow traditions upon which Sunday sacredness is commanded. Listen to the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 15:3, 9, 13, “He answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? … But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. … Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” Let’s face the truth. Obedience to God’s commandments is absolutely essential to being saved. Paul sums up this belief in Hebrews 5:9, “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” When you hear today a Protestant clergy state that we honor Christ by worshiping on Sunday you are listening to a lie.
However, the word of God does preach that Christ does authorize a memorial of His death and resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 11:26 we read, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” And Colossians 2:12 tells that baptism is to commemorate His burial and resurrection. I read, “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”
So we have discovered that there is not one text that could possibly be construed to teach Sunday keeping in the Bible. In a book by the name of Pope, King Again on p. 119 we will find listed sixteen texts which you cannot find in your Bible. Listen as I read: “The Catholic Church is absolutely right in declaring that Sunday observance is extra-Biblical. You may read your Bible through from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 but you will not find one text that says the Sabbath was ever changed from the seventh day to the first, or one text where the first day of the week is ever called a holy day, or one text where we are told to keep the first day of the week, or one text that says that Jesus ever kept the first day as a Sabbath, or one text where the first day of the week is ever given a sacred title, or one text that affirms that any of the apostles ever kept the first day as a Sabbath, or one text from any of their writings that authorizes its observance, or one text that gives any instruction as to how the first day of the week should be observed as a day of rest, or one text where it says that it was the established custom of the early Christian church to meet on that day, or one text where we are told not to work on the first day of the week, or one text where the apostles taught their converts to keep Sunday instead of Sabbath, or one text teaching that the first day was ever appointed as the Lord’s Day, or one text that say that the seventh day is not now God’s holy rest day, or one text that says that the seventh-day Sabbath has been abolished, or one text that releases us from observing the seventh-day Sabbath as a memorial of creation.”
Beloved, there is but one choice for the Christian – obey God and keep holy the Lord’s Day which the Bible teaches is the seventh-day Sabbath. Protestant ministers who profess to teach only the Bible could tell you the truth, but scripture reveals that in the very end of time this will never happen. I am reading Revelation 13:15 – 17 that tells us what we may expect. “And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads. And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”
This brings up the question, What is an image to the beast? We have found in these studies that the beast of Revelation 13 is the Roman Catholic Church. Who is the image of the papacy? Perhaps this will help – those who were acquainted with my father have often stated that I am the image of my father. I, of course, am not my father, but I look like him, talk like him and act like him. An image of the beast of Rome would have to be a religious power here in America that would enforce the mark of the beast, which we have established is Sunday worship. America has long been known as the world center of Protestantism. But a change is fast developing called the Ecumenical movement in which Protestants are becoming like Catholicism; in other words, making an image to the beast. These two religious powers are working together with one goal – that Protestants and Catholics will become united in doctrine. This is why Protestant churches no longer “protest” against the papacy but openly declare the pope to be the greatest spiritual force in our world today. Few, if any, have any idea of how closely these two religious bodies are working together.
Take the example of Billy Graham. He is recognized as Protestantism’s greatest evangelist. I will let the following quote reveal how the Catholics and Protestants are working together. This is taken from a new book entitled Billy Graham and His Friends p. 36, 37. “Graham was in a meeting in San Antonio, Texas. He said that the Roman Church has giving tremendous cooperation in areas where he had held crusades. He added, ‘A great portion of our support today is from the Catholics. We never hold a crusade without priests and nuns being much in evidence in the audience.’ By September 1992 the Catholic diocese of Portland, Oregon had set a goal to supply 6,000 of the 10,000 councilors needed for the Graham crusade. All Catholics who responded to the altar call were channeled to Catholic churches. Billy Graham said that he had a Roman Catholic bishop stand beside him and bless the converts as they came forward in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In 1979 almost 3500 decision cards were turned over to the Catholic Church.”
I’m sure that this is an eye-opener to the majority of Protestants. With this in mind consider how Catholicism has always claimed the power of the state to achieve its goals. Now we discover Protestantism is also determined to do the same by securing the power of the state to achieve its goals. You have often heard of the Protestant organization called The Religious Right, but did you know that they have openly declared to change America by the power of our government? Their recent book Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right by Sarah Diamond p. 135 are these startling words, “The concept that Christians are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions has become the central unifying ideology for the Christian right.” Jerry Falwell has publicly endorsed Dominion Press Books.
And listen to this found in their book called Manifesto: A coalition on the Bible , Appendix A, page 7, “We affirm that the great commission is a mandate of the Lord to make … Bible-obeying disciples of all nations. It is therefore to the great benefit of all mankind, Christian and non-Christians alike, to make every society’s judicial and legal system into a close approximation to the laws and commandments of the Bible as its citizens will allow.” Believe it or not, this Protestant movements teaches that when all else fails to achieve what they are striving for that the death penalty (notice that) will make it possible to clean up America. In their paper called Church and State , p. 10 of January 1991 are these unbelievable words, “The death penalty is advocated for homosexuals, astrologers, witches, teachers of false doctrine and incorrigible children.” This is exactly what Revelation 13:15 – 17 declares will take place in America.
Don’t think this plan is held by a few Protestant leaders. In a book The Answer to the Biblical Law p. 279 by John Rushdoony, published by the Presbyterian Reformed Publishing House, I find this statement, “Warfare is not child’s play. It is a grim and ugly matter. The Canaanites were under judicial death sentence by God. They were spiritually and morally degenerate. These laws assert a still valid general principle. If warfare is to destroy evil that an evil order be overthrown and in some cases some or many people be executed.” Keep in mind that the leaders of this Protestant organization endorses these words; leaders such as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robinson and a host of others. With such a movement these religious right people aim to reeducate the Protestant churches. If they succeed, this will become the blueprint for the image of the beast here in America to force the mark of the beast.
When one considers how the morals have fallen in America it is little wonder that many Protestant church leaders believe the death penalty is the answer. God has said things will get worse and worse for Inspiration declares we shall experience a time of trouble such as never was. We have not been told exactly how this will happen, but one thing is for sure, God declares the image of the beast in America will cause all to worship the mark of the beast. Let me read it again, “He had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” Revelation 13:15.
A well-known spiritual writer has written in a book called The Great Controversy on p. 445, “The image to the beast represents that form of apostate Protestantism which will be developed when the Protestant church’s shall seek the aid of the civil power for the enforcement of their dogmas.” The same author wrote in The Signs of the Times p. 3 in 1910, “When the Protestant churches shall unite with the secular power to sustain a false religion then will Protestant America have formed an image to the papacy.”
If you have any doubt that I may have overemphasized the intent of this great Protestant movement to join the papacy in forcing a national Sunday law in America, let me read from the Institutes of Biblical Law p. 833 by the Presbyterians. “Sabbath violations were capital crimes. Capital crimes were major ones. If the Hebrew Sabbath is binding today its implications and applications are equally binding. If the standard of the Hebrew Sabbath are binding then entering a place of business on the Sabbath is morally a capital crime and an abomination in the sight of God.”
I used to preach about the image and the beast by faith, but not any more. Anyone watching the Protestant movement in America today can see an image to the beast developing right before our eyes. I appeal to you to join with me and become a part of God’s last-day remnant who keep the commandments of God, including the fourth, promising by His grace to keep holy the Lord’s Day, the seventh-day Sabbath, and be ready to meet Jesus who soon will appear in the sky to take you home with Him.
Let us pray. Dear Father, help us to show our allegiance to Thy creative power by keeping holy the Lord’s Day, the seventh day. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.