Answers to "Ask Mike"
41a. Since we have no authority from the Bible, why should we observe the Sabbath on Sunday, even we have the evidence changing the Sabbath in 321 AD?
Let me answer the second part of the question first. The statement is often made that the emperor Constantine changed the Sabbath to Sunday in AD 321. That is not an accurate statement.
Constantine became the sole Roman emperor after defeating his opponent at the Milvian Bridge outside Rome. Before that battle Constantine saw a vision of a "Chi Rho," two Greek letters which made a cross when put together. In addition, those letters were the first two letters in the Greek christus.
Accompanying the sign, Constantine saw Latin words, which said: "In this sign conquer." Constantine immediately ordered the Chi Rho symbol painted on his soldier's shields and ordered the regimental banner, the laborium, to display the symbol as well. Constantine professed a conversion to Christ and went into battle.
After Constantine became the sole emperor, he provided many benefits to Christians they had not previously enjoyed. Since the first century, Christianity had been designated a religio illicita (illegal religion) which meant they were legally forbidden to meet. Among the benefits bestowed on the Christians was the removal of the stigma of an illegal religion. He did not make Christianity the empire's state religion. He also made it possible for Christians to do many other things they had not been permitted prior to his accession. One of those things was public worship. Constantine recognized that Christians were already meeting on the first day of the week, so he designated that as a day of worship.
Sufficient information from Scripture, the early church fathers, and other sources all recognize it was the Christians' custom to meet together on the first day of the week. Constantine did not change the Sabbath. The Sabbath is still Saturday. It commemorates the day God rested after his labors.
It commemorates Creation. Christians worshiped on the first day of the week because Jesus rose from the grave on the first day of the week. It therefore commemorates a "new creation" brought into being by the resurrection of Christ.
Now let me address the first question. There is no specific biblical authority given regarding the day of worship because the New Testament specifies no particular day of worship. The Christian worships God every day in the holy temple, which is the habitation of the Holy Spirit. That's exactly why Paul wrote, "Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath DayŚ" (Colossians 2:16 NAS). It is expedient to set aside a day to gather for worship, but the early church often gathered daily. Jesus reminded his hearers that God did not make man for the Sabbath but made the Sabbath for man. By such a statement, he reminded the legalists of his day that a legalistic observance of the Sabbath was not the issue. God made the Sabbath because man needs one day of seven for rest. This may simply be understood as a change of activity from earning our daily bread to something else. After all, God does not cease his activity on the seventh day. He still maintains and sustains the universe.
The day of worship may well depend on a number of things. We have a number of young adults for whom Tuesday evening is a convenient time for worship.
Others gather on Saturday night to worship. Most of the people associated with our congregation still come on Sunday morning for we believe in doing things as did the early church and references in Acts 20:7 and Revelation give us reason for doing so. When we gather together, we observe the Lord's Supper just as early Christian congregations did. We are taught from Scripture the apostle's doctrine just as they were in first century Jerusalem (Acts 2:42), and we share of our substance. We also pray and sing together. Having said that, none of this is done legalistically as a requirement for recognition as a child of God. We do it because we choose to do it. We do it because we receive encouragement (Hebrews 10:25) for doing so, not because it is a legalistic requirement God demands. My Bible says that I am justified by faith apart from any legal code, including the 10 Commandments (Romans 3:21).
Having written this, I have said all I will on this subject. Those who claim that Constantine changed the Sabbath are simply ignorant of the historical truth. Those who would bind on anyone the Old Testament law are, at the worst, Judaizers and at the very best a cult. My Seventh Day Adventist and Seventh Day Baptist friends may worship on Saturday if they choose. I will defend their right to do so, but I will not brook any argument from them that this is one of God's requirements for being considered a faithful Christian. To continue this discussion further would be pursuing senseless controversy and I, for one, will not be part of it.
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