The Lord's Day
The First Day of the Week

.... "The Lord's Day or the First Day of the Week" is the theme that has been announced for discussion on this occasion. Since the Sabbath day has ceased by divine authority when the old covenant was taken out of the way, since a special day of worship under the law of Moses has ceased, and since we live under the new covenant, better established on better promises, the question arises: "Is there a special day of worship designated in the new covenant for Christian worship?" It is not the Christian Sabbath. There is no Scripture in the new covenant that teaches that the Sabbath day has been set apart as a special day of worship for Christians; neither is there any Scripture that teaches that the special day set apart for Christians to worship should be called the Christian Sabbath. The Lord's day, or the first day of the week, is never called by divine authority the Sabbath day or the Christian Sabbath. The special day set apart and known as the Lord's day is not a substitute for the Sabbath day under the law. The new covenant is not in the true sense a substitute for the old covenant; the old covenant served its purpose and Christ took it out of the way. He then gave a new covenant with new promises, new purposes, new requirements, and a new day for worship. It should be kept clear in mind that the Lord's day or the first day of the week does not take the place of anything or any day under the law of Moses.

The Lord's day, or the first day of the week, is not a day of rest. The Sabbath was a day of rest for the. Children of Israel, but the Lord's day is in no sense a day of rest as was the Jewish Sabbath. Under the old covenant the Sabbath day was designated as a day of rest for man and beast; it was a memorial day of the deliverance from Egyptian bondage and Egyptian taskmasters; it was a sign between Jehovah and the children of Israel that God through his goodness had delivered the children of Israel from the ceaseless toil to which they were subjected while in Egypt. They were to rest and tell their children that they had this rest day because of the goodness of God in delivering them from the bondage in Egypt. Under the new covenant the Lord's day has a higher and a holier purpose than that of merely giving physical rest to man and beast. We let this point rest at this time, as it will be brought up further on in this speech. All of the babbling and prattling that you hear about changing the Sabbath day to the first day of the week is out of place and serves only to confuse the minds of people and prejudice them against the truth.

NEW THINGS IN THE NEW COVENANT

The new covenant is true to its name; it is truly new in all of its parts. We have but to notice a few of the new things that are included in the new covenant. The teachings of Jesus while in the flesh was designated as "new teaching." (Mark 1: 27.) Christ did not reiterate any of the law of Moses to impose it upon people; throughout the Sermon on the Mount he brings into contrast his teachings with the traditions and interpretations of the rabbis; he fulfilled the law and then gave something new in its stead. "He taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes." (Matt. 7: 29.) There never had been such teachings as Jesus gave: there never has been any new teaching that is comparable to the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. He came to reveal the Father's will, the will of the Father as expressed in the new covenant. Again we have "a new commandment" (John 13: 34), which expresses a higher degree of love among the Lord's people than had ever been taught before. Christians are new creatures in Christ. (2 Cor. 5: 17.) Old things have passed away, and all things become new. The church is composed of converts from all nations; Jews and Gentiles were converted by the gospel and constituted into "one new man." (Eph. 2: 15.) Again we read of "a new and living way." (Heb. 10: 20.) Young Christians are called "new babes in Christ." (I Pet. 2: 2.) We have a "new Passover." (1 Cor. 5: 7.) We offer up "new sacrifices" (1 Pet. 2: 5) and give "new praise offerings" unto God (Heb. 13: 15). The prophet Isaiah said that God's people should be given "a new name." (Isa. 62: 2.) This prophecy was fulfilled when the disciples were called "Christians first at Antioch." (Acts 11: 26.) Moreover, in the new covenant we have a "new day of worship" (1 Cor. 16: 1, 2; Rev. 1: 10), which is the first day of the week or the Lord's day. It will be seen that everything in the new covenant is new.

THE LORD'S THINGS

In the new covenant there are so many things which are designated as belonging to the Lord --- "the Lord's things." A recitation of a few of these things will, help us to appreciate the "Lord's day." We have mentioned in the new Testament "the Lord's body" (1 Cor. 11: 27-29), "the Lord's death" (1 Cor. 11: 26), "the Lord's table" (1 Cor. 10: 21), "the Lord's Supper" (1 Cor. 11: 20), "the Lord's disciples'9 (Acts 9: 1), "the Lord's blood" (1 Cor. 11: 27), "the Lord's house" (1 Tim. 3: 15), and "the Lord's day." (Rev. 1: 10.) Other things could be mentioned as belonging to the Lord, but these are enough to show that when we speak of "the Lord's day" that we are putting it in the class of many, many other important things that belong to the Lord under the new covenant. In fact, the new covenant came through the Lord Jesus Christ; he is the mediator of a better covenant. Moses was the mediator of the old covenant, but Christ is the mediator of the new covenant. The old covenant was sealed and sanctified by the blood of animals, but the new covenant is sealed and sanctified by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the Lord's covenant, his last will and testament to man. It would be strange if a new day of worship was designated in the new covenant and it not be called "the Lord's day." We know that "day" is used in different senses in the Bible, but the first day of the week has been designated as the Lord's day and was recognized as the day of worship by the early Christians. In fact, since Pentecost the first day of the week has been used, the special day of worship under the new covenant.

THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK

"The first day of the week" has been called by the Holy Spirit "the Lord's day." "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day." (Rev. 1: 10.) Here we have John stating that he was "in the Spirit" on a special day, "the Lord's day." There are many reasons for designating this day as "the Lord's day." First, the Lord was raised from the dead on "the first day of the week." (Matt. 28: 1; Mark 16: 2; Luke 24: 1; John 20: 19.) Here all four of the writers of the gospel tell us that Jesus was raised from the dead on the first day of the week. This is one reason for designating the first day of the week as the Lord's day. After his resurrection, he remained on earth for about forty days. (Acts 1: 3.) During these forty days he made a number of appearances; we have a record of about thirteen appearances that Jesus made after his resurrection and before his ascension. Every appearance where the time is mentioned it was on the first day of the week. There are some appearances where the time, is not mentioned, but when the time is mentioned, it is designated as being on the first day of the week. He made his ascension to the Father and then sent the Holy Spirit, according to promise, to the apostles on Pentecost, which was the first day of the week. (Lev. 23: 11, 15-21.) The church was organized on Pentecost, and the first gospel sermon in its fullness was preached by Peter on this Pentecost. Hence, since Pentecost was the first day of the week, the first day of the week becomes the birth day of the church of the Lord. The early disciples met on the first day of the week to eat the Lord's Supper. "And upon the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul discoursed with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and prolonged his speech until midnight." (Acts 20: 7.) Moreover, the early disciples were commanded to make a special contribution on the first day of the week. "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I gave order to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye. Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come." (1 Cor. 16: 1, 2.) Here Paul gives instruction to the church at Corinth to do as he had commanded the churches in Galatia; they were to make this contribution on the first day of the week. This was to be done so that there would be no delay in collecting the contribution when Paul arrived. It shows that the early Christians were meeting on the first day of the week. "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh." (Heb. 10: 24, 25.) These are some of the reasons that may be assigned for calling the first day of the week the Lord's day.

In Psalm 2: 7 we have the following: "Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee." Note carefully "this day" as mentioned here. In Acts 13: 32, 33 we learn that this was fulfilled in the resurrection of Christ. "And we bring you good tidings of the promise made unto the fathers, that God hath fulfilled the same unto our children, in that he raised up Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." Hence, Jesus was acknowledged as the begotten Son of God by his resurrection from the dead on the first day of the week. The prophecy of Joel (2 28; Acts 2: 1-4, 16, 17) was fulfilled on Pentecost which is the first day of the week. Christ was crowned king on his throne on that day. (Zech. 6: 13; Acts 2: 29-36.) The new law went into effect as the word of the Lord went forth from Jerusalem on that day. (Isa. 2: 3; Luke 24: 47, 49; Acts 2.) All of these events show that God honored the first day of the week as the day for the accomplishment of so many great things. No one should be astonished that the first day of the week has been called "the Lord's day." Peter said that "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (1 Pet. 1: 3.) What does this mean? It simply means that by the resurrection of Jesus Christ that the apostles were begotten again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Christ; that is, his resurrection completed the act of their regeneration. They had gone back to their former calling after the crucifixion of Christ, but now they are revived in hope that their crucified Lord is now the risen Redeemer of man. It is interesting to note the important place that the resurrection has in the early preaching of the apostles; in fact, Peter never mentions the crucifixion of Jesus without mentioning his resurrection. Attention is called here to Psalm 118: 22-24. "The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner. This is Jehovah's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which Jehovah hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." What day? It is the resurrection day, the most important day in the plan of human redemption. There are those who celebrate his birthday without any divine authority. God has designated the first day of the week, the resurrection day of our Lord, as the special day of worship for his people under the new covenant. Hence, we have many reasons for calling the first day of the week the Lord's day.

WHAT ADVENTISTS TEACH

Adventists first met on the first day of the week. Joseph Bates visited some relatives who were members of the Seventh-Day Baptist Church. He learned some arguments from them for meeting on the Sabbath day; he brought these arguments back and introduced them to the Advent Church. Mrs. White contended against meeting on the Sabbath day until she was unable to answer the arguments which Joseph Bates produced. She then had a vision in which she saw that the Sabbath day was retained and was binding on Christians today. The Seventh-Day Advent Church was then founded in 1845. If keeping the first day of the week is a "mark of the beast," then the Advent Church had the mark of the beast; Mrs. Ellen G. White had the mark of the beast. We have a record in "Life Sketches of Ellen G. White" of the vision that Mrs. White had. "Elder Bates was resting upon Saturday, the seventh day of the week, and he urged it upon our attention as the true Sabbath. I did not feel its importance, and thought that he erred in dwelling upon the fourth commandment more than upon the other nine. But the Lord gave me a view of the heavenly sanctuary. The temple of God was opened in heaven, and I was shown the ark of God covered with the mercy seat. Two angels stood one at either end of the ark with their wings spread over the mercy seat, and their faces turned toward it. This, my accompanying angel informed me, represented all the heavenly host looking with reverential awe toward the law of God, which had been written by the finger of God. Jesus raised the cover of the ark, and 1 beheld the tables of stone on which the Ten Commandments were written. I was amazed as I saw the fourth commandment in the very center of the ten precepts with a soft halo of light encircling it. Said the angel, 'It is the only one of the ten which defines the living God who created the heavens and the earth and all things that are therein."' (Pages 95 and 96.) Now such foolishness as is revealed in the visions of Mrs. White become the authority for the Seventh-Day Adventists worshiping on the Sabbath Day. She saw the two tables of stone upon which was written the Ten Commandments, she claims, and then she saw a halo around the fourth commandment which contains the Sabbath day, which placed this commandment above all of the others. She puts the fourth commandment which was given to the Jewish people above the commandment that thou shalt have no other God before me. To the Seventh-Day Adventists the Sabbath day is the only thing that differentiates the Adventist from all other denominations. There are six kinds of Adventists, and the Seventh-Day Adventist, founded by Mrs. White, are lacking in a representative who has the courage to defend her as a prophet of God; they claim that she was inspired of God, and she claims that she was inspired of God, but their cause is crying for a defender and not a one of them is willing to come to her defense. Why? Because they cannot defend her.

DID POPE OF ROME CHANGE THE SABBATH?

This claim that the pope of Rome changed the Sabbath day to the first day of the week was first made by Mrs. Ellen G. White. Mrs. White says, "In the ark was the golden pot of manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of stone, which folded together like a book. Jesus opened them, and I saw the Ten Commandments written on them with the finger of God. On one table were four and on the other six. The four on the first table shone brighter than the other six. But the fourth, the Sabbath commandment, shone above them all; for the Sabbath was set apart to be kept in honor of God's holy name. The holy Sabbath looked glorious-a halo of glory was all around it. I saw that the Sabbath commandment was not nailed to the cross. If it was, the other nine commandments were; and we are at liberty to break them all as well as to break the fourth. I saw that God had not changed the Sabbath, for he never changes. But the pope had changed it from the seventh day to the first day of the week; for he was to change times and laws." ("Early Writings of Ellen G. White," page 33.) Again on page 65 of the same book Mrs. White says, "The pope has changed the day of rest from the seventh to the first day." In different visions Mrs. White claimed that the pope changed the Sabbath day to the first day of the week. Let us examine her charge and see how much truth there is in it. Remember that the Lord showed her in a vision that the pope had changed the Sabbath to the first day of the week. Why did the Lord have to reveal to Mrs. White in a vision that the pope changed the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first day of the week if they can prove it has been changed by the New Testament? Why do not Seventh-Day Adventists not attempt to prove by the New Testament that the Sabbath day has been changed to the first day of the week? Seventh-Day Adventists admit that the Catholic Church was not founded until the fourth century; they admit that the Catholic Church was not fully developed until about A.D. 304. Christians were meeting on the first day of the week for three centuries before even Adventists claim that the Sabbath was changed to the first day of the week. How can they give any reason for Christians meeting on the first day of the week so long? They even now claim that they can give some evidence that the Catholic pope did make the change. They cannot tell us which pope made the change; they know there is no sacred or profane history that records the fact that the pope made a change. Even if the Catholics should make such a claim, how could the claim be proved? There is no evidence that the pope made any such change, and when Seventh-Day Adventists make the charge they do so without any evidence. They can only point to Mrs. White's vision that the pope made the change. Constantine was emperor of Rome, but he was not a pope; he was emperor from A.D. 306-337. He had laws passed regulating conduct on the first day of the week, but there is no law or edict in Roman history where he changed the Sabbath day to the first day of the week. It is one thing to make laws regulating the conduct of citizens on the first day of the week, and another thing to appoint the first day of the week as a day of worship. Again, they claim that the Council of Laodicea, which met A.D. 363, confirmed the first day of the week as the Lord's day. It should be remembered that the first day of the week was already observed from the earliest days of the church of our Lord down to that time by all Christians.

The speaker knew that from this platform it had been preached that the pope of the Catholic Church changed the Sabbath day from the seventh to the first day of the week; hence, he called on the highest authority in the Catholic Church in Nashville, Tennessee, to give the teachings of the Catholic Church on this matter. He asked this question: "Do Catholics teach that the pope of Rome changed the seventh day Sabbath to the first day of the week?" The answer came with an emphatic "No"! "They do not make such a claim; they never have made such a claim." The priest was then asked: "Will you put that statement in writing?" He then wrote the following letter, dated December 14, -1944.

"Doctor H. Leo Boles

4100 Granny White Pike Nashville, Tennessee

Dear Sir:

"In answer to your query, Who changed the Sabbath to Sunday? I wish to say that, according to the best evidence, it was the apostles themselves in order to commemorate the resurrection of Christ. The practice of meeting together on, the first day of the week for the celebration of the Lord's Supper and the designation of that day as the Lord's day is indicated by St. Paul, Acts 20: 7 and 1 Cor. 16: 2, and by St. John, Rev. 1: 10.

"In the 'Didache or the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles,' dating from the year A.D. 100 (that's back there just a few, maybe a few, years after John died), the command is given: 'On the Lord's day come together and break bread and give thanks, after confessing your sins, that your sacrifice may be pure. (Chapter 14.)

"St. Ignatius, martyr (year 107), speaks of Christians as 'no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's day on which also Our Life rose again." (Ad Magnes IX.) In his Epistle to Barnabas, chapter XV, he says: "Wherefore also we keep the eighth day (i.e., the first of the week) with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead."

"St. Justin (year 165) is the first Christian writer to call the day Sunday in the celebrated passage in which he describes in detail the worship offered to God on that day by the early Christians-i.e., the offering up of the body and blood of Christ with the accompanying prayers, preaching, and reading of the Old and New Testaments. (Apol. 65.)

"Thus, it is clear from the most ancient and authentic testimonies we have that the practice of celebrating the Lord's Supper on Sunday originated with the apostles, and, therefore, it was in accordance with the will of Christ who gave them the power to make such accidental changes of time and manner of religious observance. They, of course, were not empowered to change the natural law obliging all men to devote a certain time exclusively to the worship of God which is the essential duty enjoined by the third commandment, but the time and details of its observance were subject to change. Certainly the practice would not have originated with the apostles and become universal throughout the Christian world if our Lord had not willed it. The fact that a small group of Christians (speaking of the Adventists), originating eighteen hundred years after the apostles, choose to worship on the seventh day is insignificant when compared to universal practice and ancient traditions in favor of Sunday.

"I hope this is a satisfactory answer to your question.

Very sincerely yours,

"RT. Rev. MSGR. A. A. SIFNER, V.G."

It is fair to the Catholics to say that they do not claim that the pope of Rome changed the Sabbath to the first day of the week. Any literature that anyone may have from the Seventh-Day Adventists making the charge that the pope changed the Sabbath is false; if any of you have such literature, you may write on it, "This is not true."

THE LORD'S SUPPER

Jesus commanded his disciples to eat the Lord's Supper. (Matt. 26: 26; Luke 22: 19; 1 Cor. 11: 24, 25.) The Lord commanded his people to assemble. "Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is." (Heb. 10: 25.) Never mind what the other part of this verse may mean, we do have the simple and clear teaching that Christians were not to forsake the assembling of themselves together. They are also commanded to eat the Lord's Supper; they must assemble in order to eat the supper together. They ate the supper when they assembled. (1 Cor. 11: 20-33.) Paul here says: "When therefore ye assemble yourselves together, it is not possible to eat the Lord's supper." Hence, then, they ate the supper when they assembled. Now they are commanded to eat it, and they are commanded to assemble; and we find that they ate the supper when they assembled. Why are they eating it? In commemoration of the Lord's death and suffering till he comes. Hence, then there is implied here his resurrection; he could not come again the second time if he were not alive, if he had not been raised from the dead. Hence, the Lord's Supper by its implication then is eaten on the first day of the week as a memorial institution of the Lord's death and second coming. This is clear enough. However, Christians came together for the purpose of eating the Lord's Supper. (I Cor. 11: 33.) But they came together to break bread or eat the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week. The resurrection of the Lord on the first day of the week, the descent of the Holy Spirit on the first day of the week, and the eating of the Lord's Supper on the first day-all emphasize that this is the Lord's day. We have learned that the Holy Spirit came on the first day of the week, that the church was organized or began its operation on the first day of the week, that Christians met to eat the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week, and that John was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, all of which teach us that the first day of the week is the Lord's day.

God's people today assemble to eat the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week. The Sabbath of the law was an entirely different day and was kept for an entirely different purpose. There is as much difference in the purpose of Christians meeting on the Lord's day and the Jews resting on the Sabbath day as there is between day and night, Christ and Satan. The Lord's day does not take the place of the Jewish Sabbath; the Sabbath was taken out of the way when the old covenant was fulfilled; a new day, the first day of the week, was given for Christians under the new covenant. The eating of the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week is the only thing that distinguishes the first day of the week from any other day. We may sing the praises of God on the first day of the week, but we may sing his praises any day and every day. We read the Bible on the first day of the week, but we may and should read the Bible every day. We pray on the first day of the week, but we may pray and should pray every day. We may give of our means on the first day of the week, but we may give as we have opportunity and as there is a need on any day. Hence, the eating of the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week is the only thing that differentiates this day from any other day. Upon this day and this day only may we eat the Lord's Supper.

There is just one thing further with respect to the first day of the week. God has arranged it so that his people can meet on the first day of the week. Man may change the calendar; he may construct a calendar with only six days to the week; Russia did this and lived for a quarter of a century on the six-day week schedule. Other nations have done the same. How would a Seventh-Day Adventist worship on the seventh day of the week when there are only six days in the week? God has fixed it so that man cannot construct a calendar of days in the week but that there will be "a first day of the week." Hence, he has fixed it so that his people-it matters not how many changes may take place-may meet on the first day of the week. If man should construct a schedule of only five days in the week, Christians would meet on the first day of the week for worship. Seventh-Day Adventists could not meet for worship, since the week does not have seven days. This shows the wisdom of God in the arrangement of the first day of the week, the Lord's day, as the special day for worship. (Speech Delivered by H. Leo Boles, December 21, 1944, in the War Memorial Building, Nashville, Tennessee)

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