THE SPENCER JOURNAL - A Publication of the J. H. Spencer Historical Society

THE SPENCER JOURNAL - A Publication of the J. H. Spencer Historical Society

Why We Worship God On Sunday Instead of Saturday
By J.M. Hooker

      A certain Adventist preacher offered a thousand dollar reward for anyone who would present scriptural proof for worshipping on the first day of the week. After we gave him the proof he refused to keep his word.

      The Adventists would have us to believe that the word "Sabbath" means "Seventh," but all great Hebrew scholars argue that "Sabbath" means "rest," including Drs. John R. Sampey, Kyle M. Yates, and J. Leo Green of Louisville.

      We are more seriously concerned, however, because if we can show that the Adventists are wrong in this fundamental doctrine, we can show that they are wrong in teaching salvation by works, apostasy, and soul sleeping. So we here present definite scriptural proofs, any one of which would be sufficient to prove beyond all doubt that Sunday is the day on which God intended for Christians to worship.

      The Sabbath was never given to the Gentiles.
      No one was commanded to keep the Sabbath until 2,500 years after creation. The first mention of the word "Sabbath" is found in Exodus 16:23, "Tomorrow is the feast of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord." So from Adam to Moses the Sabbath was not observed by anyone.

      The fact that God sanctified the seventh day by resting in it as recorded in the second chapter of Genesis does not mean at all that he instituted the Sabbath for man at that time. It is not stated that God made such a thing known to Adam at all. The fact that God can sanctify without instituting is proved by the fact that Christ was sanctified from eternity, but was not sent into the world until the fullness of time, as we see in John 10:36.

      The sabbath was not given to Israel until after their deliverance from Egyptian bondage. The sabbath was to be a memorial of their redemption from slavery. This command in Exodus 16:23, which is during the time of their wilderness wandering, is the first command ever given to Israel to observe the sabbath. That the sabbath is new to them is seen in the fact that the rulers of the congregation go to Moses and ask him how to prepare for the Sabbath.

      The Sabbath could not have been given to any but a redeemed people. In Deuteronomy 5:15 we see again the Sabbath was commemorative of Israel's redemption from Egyptian bondage and not to commemorate creation. Therefore it would have been inappropriate for the Jews to have kept that day before their deliverance from Egypt as it would be for Gentiles to keep the day now.

      It is not even implied that God ever intended for the Gentiles to keep the Sabbath. It was solely Jewish. There is no record where God ever commanded a Gentile to observe the Sabbath. There is no record that any Gentile was ever charged with breaking the Sabbath, yet the Jews were repeatedly punished for breaking it. So if the Gentiles were not supposed to keep the Sabbath in Old Testament days they are certainly not supposed to keep it now.

      1. The Feast-days of Israel prophetically set forth the First Day of the week as a Holy Day of Worship.
      In the twenty-third chapter of Leviticus the Lord gave directions for the observance of seven feasts. Five of these were to begin on a certain day of the month and two were to begin on a certain day of the week. The only ones that could concern us in this question are the ones which began on a certain day of the week. And both of these began on the First Day of the week. These were the feast of first-fruits and the feast of waves loaves.

      The feast of first-fruits pointed forward to the resurrection of Christ. Christ arose on the first day of the week and 1 Cor. 15:23 tells us that Christ was the first-fruits of them that slept. In like manner in Lev. 23:15 we see that the feast of wave loaves seven weeks later pointed to Pentecost.

      2. The Resurrections and Pentecost set for the First Day of the Week as a Day of Worship.

      All of the gospel writers affirm that Christ arose on the first day of the week. This is one reason why we call it the Lord's Day and observe it as a day of worship.

      In Luke 24:49 Christ commanded the disciples to assemble in Jerusalem until He sent the Holy Spirit. He sent the Holy Spirit on Pentecost which was the first day of the week. In Acts 2:20, the Holy Spirit inspires Peter to interpret Joel as calling this day "the great and notable day of the Lord."

      3. God's Word Expressly States that Israel's Sabbath Has Ceased.
      In Hosea 2:11 God says, "I will cause her feast-days and sabbaths to cease." The Sabbaths ceased with the feast-days, jubilees, and all the other ceremonies.

      The seventh day was connected with an earthly rest, while the first day points to a heavenly rest. Hebrews 4:9, "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God." Since Christ came we are concerned with the rest which he gives from the bondage of sin.

      Since Christ was in the tomb on the Sabbath and arose on the first day, to worship on the Sabbath is to ignore the resurrection and worship a dead Christ.

      Christ abolished the ceremonial law at Calvary. Colossians 2:14 says he "blotted out the handwriting of ordinances, nailing them to his cross.

      In Galatians 4:9-10 Christians are warned against keeping sabbaths and special days.

      4. Christ Did Not Keep the Sabbath.
      It is stated in Jeremiah 17:21-22 that no man is to carry a burden on the sabbath day. In John 5:8-9 we see where Jesus heals a man and commands him to pick up his bed and carry it on the sabbath. Time and again Jesus broke the sabbath of the Pharisees.

      Now, if the Sabbath is part of the moral law, then Jesus is a sinner and not a Savior. But since Jesus is not a sinner but a Savior, we know that the sabbath is not a part of the moral law, but only a part of the ceremonial law. And Christ abolished the ceremonial law, but not the moral law. So Christ abolished the old Jewish Sabbath.

      5. The New Testament Christians Always Observed the First Day of the Week as a Day of Worship.
      After the resurrection there is no command in the New Testament to keep the Sabbath. The twentieth chapter of John shows two different meetings of the disciples on the first day of the week. In Acts 20:7 in the year 59 A.D. the church was still meeting on the first day of the week. The Scriptures say in 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2: "Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay be him in store as God hath prospered him." There is no record of any church meeting on the Sabbath. Sabbath breaking is nowhere condemned.

      We know that anyone who wants to know the truth can see in the light of this discussion that the first day of the week is the day for Christian worship.

      James McPherson Hooker (1872-1943) was a noted Baptist leader in the Graves County (KY) Baptist Association. He pastored 12 different churches in the county and served as moderator of the association for 4 years.

      Originally Published in the Western Recorder, August 21, 1941. Edited for length. Republished by the J.H. Spencer Historical Society.