Church of God, New World Ministries

The Truth About Sunday Observance

Here are the amazing facts about how the world’s churches attempt to justify “Sunday observance” – how they have forsaken God’s Sabbath!

One of the most difficult things for one to do is to admit it when shown to be in error! The most difficult thing for one to do is to change when proven wrong!

God has made the 4th commandment a test command. Obedience to it is the one great distinguishing sign separating true Christians from heretics.

In this article you will read candid admission of Protestant and Catholic clergymen. These confessions bring to light the doubts and frank admissions of the clergy regarding their utter lack of Bible authority for the observance of Sunday.

Most Christians profess that one must obey God. But they do not agree as to just what constitutes obedience to God. Yet Jesus explained exactly what obedience means. Christ specifically said that He didn’t come to abolish or destroy the law or the prophets. He came to fulfill, that is, to do to the fullest, to “fill full.” He told the rich young ruler: “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matt. 19:16-19). The verses following that statement show that He referred to the Ten Commandments.

The New Testament plainly shows that we are still to keep the Ten Commandments. Where, then, do men get the authority to change the 4th commandment by substituting Sunday in the place of the original Sabbath which Jesus and the Apostles kept? The answer to this question will astound you!

Here are the theologians’ confessions. You will be amazed! What was the first law made to enforce Sunday?

Chamber’s Encyclopedia, 1182 ed., vol. VIII, p. 401, art. “Sabbath,” declares: “By none of the fathers before the 4th century is it (the first day) identified with the Sabbath; nor is the duty of observing it grounded by them either on the 4th commandment or on the precept or example of Christ or His apostles. Unquestionably the first law, either ecclesiastical or civil, by which the Sabbatical observance of the day (Sunday) is known to have been ordained, is the edict of Constantine, 321 A.D., of which the following is a translation: “Let all judges, inhabitants of the cities, and artificers, rest on the venerable day of the sun. But in the country, husbandmen may freely and lawfully apply to the business of agriculture; since it often happens that the sowing of corn and the planting of vines cannot be so advantageously performed on any other day.”

Notice what the world-famous Britannica admits: “The earliest recognition of the observance of Sunday as a legal duty,” admits the Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., Vol. 26. P. 95, art. Sunday, “is a constitution of Constantine in 321 A.D., enacting that all courts of justice, inhabitants of towns and workshops were to be at rest on Sunday (venerabili die solis), with an exception in favor of those engaged in agricultural labour.” This is the first law made to enforce Sunday!

Here is what the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. IV, pp. 2259-60, art. “Sunday” says: “Sunday” (dies solis, of the Roman calendar, ‘day of the sun, ‘because dedicated to the sun), the first day of the week, was adopted by the early Christians as a day of worship. It was called the ‘Lord’s Day.’ No regulations for its observance are laid down in the New Testament, nor indeed, is its observance even enjoined. In the second century its observance was universal. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) was not a continuation of the Jewish (or God’s) Sabbath, which was also at first observed, but a substitute for it.”

So it was not until the second century after Jesus Christ that Sunday observance became general, and it was not until 321 A.D. that it was enforced by State decree!

Most Catholic and Protestants would like to assume that the Sabbath law was changed either by command or by example in the New Testament. But this is not true! You will not find one single verse authorizing such a change from Saturday to Sunday.

If, then, the New Testament Scriptures do not explicitly abolish or change the 4th commandment (as given in Ex. 20: 8-11), then just when and where did the Christian-professing world begin to observe Sunday? When was Sunday substituted for the Sabbath of Almighty God? Who changed (or at least, claimed to change) the 4th commandment? Who thought to change the Sabbath from Saturday (the 7th day) to Sunday (the first day)?

The answer is clear to those who aren’t afraid of the truth. History, as we have seen, reveals that it was Emperor Constantine the Great, who made the first law which actually began to force the world to keep Sunday, and to break the Sabbath of God. And remember, Constantine was an unbaptized pagan sun worshiper until the time of his death. On his death-bed he supposedly “embraced the Catholic faith,” and received the pagan rite of “pouring” often (but erroneously) called “baptism”!

But how did Christian-professing churches of this world come to adopt Sunday as their Sabbath instead of the Sabbath of God? Here’s how!

Satan, the Devil, the Great Deceiver, has deceived the whole world (Rev. 12:9). This was quite easy for him to do for, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jer. 178:9). The Devil, then, had played upon the deceptive heart-strings of human nature in order to trick mankind into accepting a counterfeit day in the place of the Holy Sabbath of God.

Here, then, is how the Christian-professing churches of this world came to observe Sunday. Admittedly, the Catholic Church existed before the Protestant churches. And it was the Catholic Church which bowed to Constantine’s dictum to observe Sunday in the place of the Sabbath, and she later bequeathed this day to her protesting daughters. Just read the following compelling testimonies to this historically proven fact!

First, let us go to the Catholic Church to see what she has to say on this subject: In the August 26, 1960, issue of the Catholic Press, of Sydney, Australia, we read: “Sunday is a Catholic institution, and its claim to observance can be defended only on Catholic principles. From beginning to end of the Bible there is not a single passage that warrants the transfer of weekly public worship from the last day (Saturday) of the week to the first” (Sunday).

Here is an interesting comment from Cardinal Gibbon’s book Faith of Our Fathers, 110th ed., p. 89: “You may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify.”

On September 23, 1893, Cardinal Gibbons also made this statement in the Catholic Mirror: “The Catholic Church for over one thousand years before the existence of a Protestant, by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday. The Christian Sabbath (Sunday) is, therefore, to this day, the acknowledged offspring of the Catholic Church as the spouse of the Holy Ghost, without a word of remonstrance from the Protestant world.”

On page 15 vol. IV of Clifton Tracts (a Catholic work) we read: “We Catholics, then have precisely the same authority for keeping Sunday holy, instead of Saturday, as we have for every other article of our creed; namely, the authority of the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth; whereas, you who are protestants have really no authority for it whatever; for there is no authority for it in the Bible, and you will not allow that there can be authority for it anywhere else. Both you and we do, in fact, follow tradition in this matter; but we follow it, believing it to be part of God’s Word, and the church to be its divinely appointed guardian and interpreter; you (Protestants) follow it, denouncing it (tradition) all the time as a fallible and treacherous guide, which often makes the commandment of God of none effect.”

T. Enright, a Catholic Priest, while president of Redemptorist Fathers’ College made the following statement in1983 in a lecture delivered at Des Moines, Iowa: “There is but one church on the face of the earth which has the power, or claims power, to make laws binding on the conscience, binding before God, binding under pain of hell fire. For instance, the institution of Sunday. What right has any other church to keep this day? You (Protestants) answer by virtue of the third (according to old editions of the Douay Bible) commandment, which says, ‘Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day!’ But Sunday is not the Sabbath. Any school boy knows that Sunday is the first day of the week. It was the Catholic Church that changed the day of rest from Saturday, the 7th day, to Sunday, the first day of the week.” Which church does the whole civilized world obey today?

The Bible says: ‘Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day, ‘but the Catholic Church says, ‘no, keep the first day of the week,’ and the entire world bows down in reverent obedience to the mandates of the Catholic Church.”

And now I quote from the Catholic “Doctrinal Catechism,” pp. 101, 174, 352-355: “Question have you any other way of proving that the church has power to institute festivals of precept? Answer Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her, she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday the seventh day of the week, for the observance of Saturday the 7th day, a change for which there is no scriptural authority. Question When Protestants do profane work upon Saturday, or the seventh day of the week, do they follow the Scripture as the only rule of their faith? Do they find this permission laid down in the Sacred Volume? Answer - on the contrary, they have only the authority of tradition for this practice. In profaning Saturday, they violate one of God’s commandments, which He has never clearly abrogated, ‘Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day.’”

Walter Drum, S. J., of Woodstock College, Maryland, challenges (on pp. 230-232 of The Ecclesiastical Review Feb., 1914 vol. 50, No. 2): “The observance of Sunday thus comes to be an ecclesiastical law entirely distinct from the divine law of the Sabbath observance. The prescriptions of Gen. 2:2-3 in regard to the Sabbath have nothing whatever to do with the law of the church about Sunday, the Lord’s Day. Catholics should observe the law of the church, not the Old Testament observances of the Sabbath, nor the dictates of Protestants or the Jews, but by the prescription of the church itself.” The Author of the Sunday law is the only one who has a right to interpret the law; and that authority is the Catholic Church.” And on page 236 he states, “They (the Protestants) deem it their duty to keep the Sunday holy. Why? Because the Catholic Church tells them to do so. They have no other reason.”

Read one more statement from the Catholics before turning to Protestant sources. I now quote from pages 3-4 of The Library of Christian Doctrine, by Burns and Oates of London, art. ‘Why Don’t You Keep the Sabbath Day?’: “You (Protestants) will tell me that Saturday was the Jewish Sabbath, but that the Christian Sabbath has been changed to Sunday. Changed! But by whom? Who has the authority to change an express commandment of Almighty God? When God has spoken and said, ‘Thou shalt keep holy the seventh day,’ who shall dare to say, ‘Nay, thou mayest work and do all manner of worldly business on the seventh day; but thou shalt keep holy the first day in its stead?’ This is a most important question, which I know not how you can answer. You are a Protestant, and you profess to go by the Bible and the Bible only; and yet in so important a matter as the observance of one day in seven as a holy day, you go against the plain letter of the Bible, and put another day in the place of that day which the Bible has commanded. The command to keep holy the seventh day is one of the Ten Commandments; you believe that the other nine are still binding: who gave you authority to tamper with the fourth? If you are consistent with your own principles, if you really follow the Bible and the Bible only, you ought to be able to produce some portion of the New Testament in which this fourth commandment is expressly altered.”

The above testimony amply shows how the Catholics feel on this subject of who changed the Sabbath. They believe that the Catholic Church has power to make laws and to change the Word of God. But the Protestants are supposed to believe in no authority but the Bible.

Now let us see what the Protestants have to say, or admit, on this important subject. “Some Baptists are fond of demanding a ‘Thus saith the Lord ‘for everything and profess to accept nothing for which explicit authority cannot be produced from the word of God. Probably not a reader (meaning Baptist) of this paragraph would be willing to follow this principle to its legitimate conclusion. It would involve the immediate return to Sabbath worship, the abolition of Sunday schools.” Quoted from the Baptist ‘Examiner,’ January 4, 1894.

The following confession, by Dr. Edward T. Hiscox, author of “The Baptist Manual,” was made before a New York Ministers’ Conference, Nov. 13th 1893. “To me it seems unaccountable that Jesus, during three years intercourse with His disciples, often conversing with them upon the Sabbath, question, discussing it in its various aspects, freeing it from its false glosses, never alluded to any transference of the day; also, that during forty days of His resurrection life, no such thing was intimated. Of course, I quite well know that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history as a religious day, as we learn from the Christian fathers and other sources. But what a pity that it (Sunday) comes branded with the mark of paganism and Christened with the name of the sun god, when adopted and sanctioned by the Papal apostasy, and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestantism!”

In this same article, read before this Baptist Conference, he went on to say: “Earnestly desiring information on this subject, which I have studied for many years, I ask, where can the record of such a transaction (from 7th day to the first day) be found? Not in the New Testament, absolutely not. There is no scriptural evidence of the change of the Sabbath institution from the 7th to the first day of the week.” What an admission!

Now, a quotation from the Lutheran Church. “The observance of the Lord’s day (meaning Sunday) is founded not on any command of God, but on the authority of the church,” states the “Augsburg Confession,” part 2, chapter 1, sec. 10. Also we discover the following statement in Article 28 of the “Augsburg Confession”: “They (Catholics) allege the Sabbath changed to the Decalogue, as it appears; neither is there any example more boasted of than the changing of the Sabbath day. Great, say they, is the power and the authority of the (Catholic) church since it dispensed with one of the Ten Commandments.”

There are many more confessions which could be added to this list, both Catholic and Protestant. But the above list will suffice to prove that Sunday observance was not instituted in the New Testament, but was instituted by Constantine the Great in 321 A.D., and enforced by the Catholic Church (at the Council of Laodicea, about 364 A.D.) and the Catholic Church bequeathed this pagan first day of the week, wrapped up in a Sunday wrapper, to the Protestant churches, her daughters.

Sometimes an atheist or agnostic dares to put in plain words the real reason why he cannot accept the teachings of the churches. Did you know why Ingersoll was an agnostic? Here is one reason found in his book, “Some Mistakes of Moses,” 1892, New York p. 106. He says: “Since the establishment of the Christian religion, the day (Sabbath) has been changed and Christians do not regard the day as holy upon which ‘God actually rested, and which He sanctified. The Christian Sabbath, or the Lord’s Day was legally established by the murderer Constantine, because upon that day Christ was supposed to have risen from the dead! It is easy to see where Christians got the right to disregard the direct command of God, to labour on the day He sanctifies, and keep as sacred, a day upon which He commanded men to labour. The Sabbath of God is Saturday, and if any day is to be kept holy, that is the one, and not the Sunday of the Christians.”

Do you now see why there are so many infidels? The veritable Babylon of hundreds of competitive religious bodies and conflicting teachings, has led many into rank atheism. If people would only accept and obey the plain teachings of the Bible, including Sabbath keeping, infidelity would vanish from the earth! How grateful are we for the knowledge of this truth?

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