Over the past few months, I have questioned Paul’s authority. To me, it seemed as though he contradicted Jesus’ teachings. Jesus clearly followed the Torah. Modern day Christians would have us believe that we don’t have to follow the Torah. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve have had a question about something Jesus said and been told, “Well Paul said….”
For instance, Jesus says in Matthew 5:19, “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
But Paul said in Colossians 2: 13-14, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”
I could never make sense of Jesus coming to earth, showing us how to live, dying and raising from the dead, then sending someone else to tell us something different. Could it be that we have misinterpreted what Paul wrote? Pastor Jim Staley thinks so.
Staley interprets those verses in Colossians to mean that Jesus canceled the debt. He didn’t cancel the law itself. This only makes sense because if Jesus canceled the law, why are we still found guilty of breaking it? We are still guilty, but we are not condemned. Jesus took care of our debt. The ISV Version of the Bible reads it this way “ …having erased the charges that were brought against us with their decrees that were hostile to us. He took those charges away when he nailed them to the cross.”
If the law had been cancelled, then why would Paul say in Romans 3:31, “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” Right there, Paul says that we do not overthrow the law.” Also, James writes, “For if anyone shall keep the whole law, yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” If the law was done away with, what is James writing about?
So if we are to keep the law, what does that look like? I guess we should start with the Ten Commandments.
You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself, a carved image.
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.
Honor your father and your mother.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s property.
Now, I will just assume that most of us don’t have a problem with keeping most of the commandments. However, there is one that in our churches today, we are taught that it is not necessary to keep. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Where in the Bible does God tell us we don’t have to honor the Sabbath?
Paul says, (here we go again), in Galatians chapter 4, “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years! “
But guess what. Paul was not rebuking the Galatians for going back to the Hebrew law He was rebuking them for going back to their pagan rituals. The Galatians were Gentiles.. They previously did not know God. It was impossible for them to go back to the law of God. They didn’t know the law of God.
Ephesians 2:12 says “…remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
Staley says this verse shows that Gentiles can become a part of Israel because of Jesus. The covenant was given to all Israel forever.
Colossians 2:16 says, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.
Here, Paul was not telling them they didn’t need to keep the Sabbath. He was telling the Colossians not to let people judge them on HOW they kept the Sabbath. If you go back to verse 8, Paul says, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” Then in verse 20 he writes, “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations (referring to things that all perish as they are used) – according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”
It is obvious here, that Paul is not referring to the law of God. He is referring to the traditions and doctrines of men, which Jesus preaches against in Matthew 15: 8-9 “These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
Could it be that Sunday rest is a tradition and doctrine of men? I think so. Why do we take our Sabbath on Sunday?
You may answer, “The Christian Sabbath is on Sunday because Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday morning.”
Some say Jesus rose on Saturday night. But that’s not the point here. Even if Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday morning, that doesn’t mean that we are to abandon the Sabbath.
“Didn’t the first century church gather on Sunday?”
Luke 23:55 says, “The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”
We see in Acts 20:17 that it appears the early church is meeting on the first day of the week. “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.
In the King James Version, the word “day” is italicized. That is because it was not found in the original manuscripts. The original manuscript actually said, “On the first of the Sabbaton (weeks), meaning that it was the beginning of the weeks counting from First Fruits up to Pentecost. It did not mean it was the first OF the week.
In I Corinthians 16:2 “Upon the first day of the week let everyone of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him that there be no gatherings when I come…” Again, in the King James Version, day is italicized because it is not in the original texts. Again, the word “week” here is “Sabbaton” which is the Greek word for Shabbot or Sabbath. The LITV reads this way, “On one of the Sabbaths, let each of you put by himself, storing up whatever he is prospered, that there not be collections then when I come.”
We now have the question, “Who decided that Sunday would be the Christian Sabbath?”
The Roman Emperor Constantine.
He changed it in 321 A.D. to go along with the Pagan Sun worship which was on Sunday.
In Deuteronomy 12:29-31, God warns us not to worship Him the way the nations worship their gods. “When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?’ – that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.”
I know what you are saying, “God doesn’t hate for us to worship him on Sunday.”
And you are right. God wants our worship every day. But I still believe He is not happy with us changing our day of rest so that it coincides with what once was a Pagan day of worship. It’s simple, God said to rest on the Sabbath. Who are we to talk back to God?
Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
If you want to learn even more about this, watch Jim Staley’s lesson called “And He Rested: Should Christians Keep the Sabbath?”
Please know that I am not saying we are saved by works. I am simply pointing out that we are not following God, but are following the traditions and doctrines of men.
First John 5:3 tells us, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”