Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sunday vs. Saturday

Here's the thing. . . I'm OK with a Seventh Day Adventist, who chooses to worship the Lord on Saturday . . . but I'm not sure if they're ok with me, who chooses to worship on Sunday.

What am I talking about? A week ago Sunday, we explored the theme of rest in the Scripture, beginning with the God Who Rests in Genesis 2:1-3. In the message, I tried to explain why most Christians today worship on Sunday, instead of the traditional Sabbath Saturday, and what we do now with the 4th Commandment.

Since the message, I've had some good dialogue with some former SDA folks and have been hearing about some engaging discussions in Growth Groups.

So why am I OK with an Seventh Day Adventist who chooses to worship on Sunday? Because I think the Bible instructs me to be . . .

Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day — things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God. If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” --Colossians 2:16-21

One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. --Romans 14:5-10

Why, when Paul has every chance to reinforce strict Sabbath keeping, does he do the opposite and encourage freedom and grace in Christ in these matters?

Despite the arguments of Seventh Day Adventists, in the book of Acts already and clearly by the end of the first century, Christian worship and rest had shifted to Sunday. This was not a 3rd or 4th C. Papal invention.

The 4th command seems to be a unique mixture of ceremonial/civil/moral law. . . unlike the other nine. . . . the civil/ceremonial shell is removed in the coming of Christ. . . . but the principle of rest . . . the kernel of that 4th command . . . still stands.

Christ fulfills all 3 aspects of the law. . . . civil and ceremonial are lifted, moral still stands as a guide for the believer. Therefore, I've still got 10 commandments, not 9. The 4th should be taken seriously, but with freedom and grace, not legalstically. The principle of rest stands, but the practice of rest is transformed with the coming of Jesus, our real rest.

So I can embrace a Seventh Day Adventist, as a brother in Christ who chooses to worship on Saturday and is fully convinced in his own mind.

But the question remains: Would a Seventh Day Adventist be OK with my worshiping on Sunday, instead of Saturday. Could he embrace me as a fellow believer? If not, why not?

(If you missed it, listen here for 10 benefits of developing a consistent practice of rest near the end of the message.)


BeckyandTroy said...

Perhaps very liberal SDAs would accept you as a fellow believer (but I wouldn't go as far as to say "embrace"). I'm actually surprised that the SDA church across the street allows their building to be used by "Sunday-worshippers". There is actually a LOT more that defines the SDA Church than simply the day of worship (dietary restrictions, Ellen G White as their modern prophet, doctrines such as the Great Controversy, etc). Becky and I have some friends that have left the SDA church and have since started a ministry to Adventists. I really recommend reading their testimony if you want to get a taste of what Adventism was for them (and many others) and what it was like for them to discover the freedom in Christ. There is nothing like hearing it first hand.


Tim said...

Thanks, Troy. Kind of takes us back to our Galatians series and the core of the Gospel. . . forgiveness of sin and right relationship with God by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

I really am not that familiar with SDA doctrine . . .

Lee said...

From my experience living in Loma Linda (A sort of SDA “Mecca”) I can reiterate that a LIBERAL SDA would seem to embrace you as a fellow believer. A CONSERVATIVE SDA would not. Ultimately, both would view you as utterly lost. The reason being, that there is so much more to the SDA doctrine regarding the Sabbath than what the outside observer would presume. For the SDA, it’s much more than just a day or the thinking that they are keeping the 10 commandments. They believe that the choice to worship on Saturday vs. Sunday is a choice between following God or following the lies of Satan. Thankfully because the SDA does not believe in a literal hell but rather ultimate annihilation, they believe that those of us who choose to fellowship on Sunday will be cast away from God’s presence and will cease to exist. So… I would say that an SDA would not “Embrace you as a fellow believer.” At least not as long as you keep going to church on Sunday.

Lee Maas

Tim said...

So some question for you, Troy and Lee, since you are more familiar with SDA doctrine . . .

Do you think that SDA churches preach the Gospel?

Based on your own experience, would you consider the majority of SDA folks believers?

What do SDA folks do with the Romans 14 and Colossians 2 passages?

Anonymous said...

Hi--I'm Colleen; Troy linked me to this blog. (Hi, Troy and Lee--great to see you...[personal aside—Lee was our older son's roommate!])

My husband and I are the former Adventists to whom Troy refers. Both Troy and Lee are totally correct in their assessments above. The only thing I'd add to Troy's remarks about the SDA church being used by Presbyterians is that Adventists often rent their buildings to "Sunday keepers" because the resulting rent payments are so good for their church budgets!

RE: Romans 14 and Colossians 2:16-17: Adventists commonly explain those texts away by saying they refer to "ceremonial Sabbaths" such as Passover, Pentecost, etc. Even those who are linguistically astute enough to realize Paul is referring to the weekly Sabbath try to explain that Paul was not referring to actually observing "Sabbath" but was referring to added rules and rituals for those days.

The argument is incredibly flimsy, but when a doctrine is based on unbiblical source materials (Ellen White's clear teaching that Sabbath-keeping on the 7th day is the seal of God and the mark by which true believers will be identified at the end of time), it's hard to adequately support it with any Scripture!

Just to demonstrate the typical SDA argument, I'll quote the two verses below from the SDA The Clear Word, a "paraphrase" of the Bible which includes SDA doctrine woven into the verses of the Bible.

Colossians 2:16, The Clear Word: "Don't let anyone control your life by giving you a set of ceremonial rules about what to eat, what to drink and which monthly festivals or special sabbaths to keep."

Romans 14:5, The Clear Word: "The same thing applies to religious festivals. One person thinks he has to keep every Jewish festival, while another thinks those days are no different from other days. About nonessentials like these, everyone needs to make up his own mind."

You can read more about The Clear Word,which is published in different "versions" including a version for children and an "Easy English Version", in the latest issue of Proclamation! magazine here: http://www.lifeassuranceministries.org/proclamation/2009/1/index.html


Anonymous said...

Hi LEE ~ I, too studied at Loma Linda University (LLU), a Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) school. I did research on the SDA church before attending. Experts used to categorize the SDA church as a cult, more recently they call SDA CHRISTian.

LLU is considered “liberal” amongst the SDA I met. And yet the library on campus was closed every Sabbath. We learned to check out books prior to sundown Fridays. The huge medical center was meatless. Their cafeteria was yummy! I never missed eating meat there! I had classmates who kept Sabbath (no study for 24 hours even during grad school). Some told me about conservative SDA who did not wear jewelry or make up. However, some traditional CHRISTian churches in the 1800s also taught such things. To respect the conservatives, I was a minimalist with these things.

I lived with a "Conservative" SDA family. The elderly couple I lived with were wonderful and I do trust they're believers whom I will see in heaven. They accepted me, too. And they prayed I would keep the Sabbath. I thought I was prepared to live with the SDA, but not so. Not only did this conservative family observe Sabbath, but they asked me to not use their washing machine on Sabbath (that was a surprise; my research did not even prepare me to expect that).

I chose to honor them by not cooking meat at home. To me it was no big deal, the lady of the house daily cooked the greatest meals for me ~ of course, all meatless. She is superb at cooking and nutrition. And they graciously allowed me to put my "left-over" restaurant meat in their refrigerator. We often had wonderful spiritual conversations. They seemed to love JESUS, too.

My regular attendance was in a traditional Sunday CHRISTian church. Additionally, I worshipped on some Saturdays with SDA, with charismatic SDA, had conversations with lapsed SDA and also met at length with some Ex-SDA folks. One of whom is in Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). I learned the only one of the 10 Commandments NOT repeated in the New Testament is the 4th (on Sabbath). One Sunday a SDA professor preached on “Salt & Light” and his sermon was consistent with the Gospel! He blessed me and I still remember it 7 years later!

SDA try to honor GOD by observing Sabbath (focusing on spiritual things for one day in 7). That part of it is good; we all need to “fix our eyes on JESUS, the Author and finisher of our faith.” If others hoped to earn salvation via this path, it is tragic. Again, it is trusting in CHRIST alone which produces salvation.

Some SDA trust in legalism (defined as depending on something other than belief in the sufficiency of the blood of JESUS alone for salvation). Legalism cannot replace nor add to the finished work of JESUS on the cross! Like the thief on the cross, some of my theology is not perfect. Ditto for my SDA friends. It's trusting in CHRIST which makes the difference between eternal Life and death. I trust in HIM alone for salvation.

I appreciate the principle of setting regular time to focus on JESUS. This is a principle I first learned from a Navigator! Also getting extra sleep the night before we worship is good. I am grateful to GOD for what I learned from SDA friends. And I do trust my “Grace” conversations with SDA were profitable. The Grace of JESUS is amazing! For a deeper understanding of Grace, I recommend reading “What's So Amazing About Grace?” by Philip Yancey. Amy-Lynne <'{{{><

Anonymous said...

Adventists use Christian vocabulary, but they have different understandings of many of the words. Unless you actually study the Bible with them, it is hard to figure out where they differ.

In fact, Adventists still claim as their Fundamental Belief #18 that Ellen White is a "continuing and authoritative source of truth". While more liberal Adventists will downplay her role, still they hold her as a significant prophetic voice in the founding of the church.

The idea of a day of worship is wonderful. Adventists, however, despite how they talk about it with an "outsider" (which you are to them if you are not an SDA), deeply believe that they would lose their salvation if they gave up the seventh day. It is not merely a preference; it is THE sign that they "love Jesus". In their hearts they believe that to worship on a different day would be to deny God. (Interestingly, when an Adventist leaves Adventism to go into a Christian church, Adventists worry about the defector's salvation—and their consistent question to them is, "What are you doing about the SABBATH?" We are never asked, "What are you doing about Jesus?")

Amy-Lynne, I understand your experience and the warmth and love you felt during your time at LLU. The unspoken text behind the Adventists' interactions with you is an attempt to convert you—even as they genuinely liked you.

I know, from over 40 years as a loyal Adventist who has spent the last 27 years in the Loma Linda area, converting non-SDAs is always an underlying goal in Adventists' interactions with Christians.

You are right, however, about the amazement of Grace. THAT is the consistent discovery of every person I deal with who discovers the gospel and leaves Adventism!


Lee said...

Regarding the comment about the Sabbath not being repeated in the New Testament, I would have to disagree. Thankfully we are now under a new covenant. A covenant with God, through the work of Jesus Christ. As such, the law to which we are now bound is written on our hearts through the work of the Holy Spirit. The Sabbath was always about rest. For those of us under the covenant of grace, that rest is now found in the person of Jesus Christ. He demonstrated this new covenant through the life that He lived. His focus was always to set aside time to commune with His Father and to lay His life before God in prayer. All of these are examples of the new Sabbath we are to live through Christ. In fact, everything I see in the life of Christ shows me that he attempts to downplay the emphasis on “One day.” Of course, as Colleen stated, the concern with the SDA’s focus on the Sabbath comes when it becomes a point of salvation.

Anonymous said...

Lee, that's a great explanation of the new covenant reality of Sabbath as fulfilled in Jesus and gifted to us when we are in Christ.

I love how you said, "The Sabbath was always about rest. For those of us under the covenant of grace, that rest is now found in the person of Jesus Christ."


victoryjw said...

I agree the Sabbath was and is about resting in Christ. Any rest that the patriarchs would have found was it not in Christ? Did the Lord not say through Jeremiah that He would write His commands on our hearts? That has not changed.
But oh how has prevailing thought changed regarding the formation of mankind. The scientific world is celebrating the 150th anniversery relating to Mr. Charles Darwin. Must I say more?
The Sabbath was made for us. It does not save us. A blessing that God has set aside with a special promise. He hallowed it. It is a safeguard against the madness of our busy lives and the lie that we have evolved for millions of years. It is a perpetual reminder of where we came from and where we are going.
"Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is Liberty." Do many Adventists have a misunderstanding of the Gospel? I would say yes. But that does not invalidate the command to Remember.
I am reminded of a friend who had enough of the legalism he had experienced as a young man while growing up. In his late twenties the Lord guided him to a Sunday church where he was refreshed. Eventually he was convicted by the Lord that he could stay there and share with them about obedience or he could go back to the Adventists and share with them about love and grace. He said he would much rather share about love and grace and went back to the Adventist church.
The bottom line is we are to study for ourselves. Allow His Spirit to lead us and God will finish the good work he has started. Salvation does not belong to any church but is freely given to those who seek Him and respond to His call.

Anonymous said...

I attended Loma Linda University for 2 years. I have never been an Adventist. As non-Adventists we were required to take "Introduction to SDA beliefs. I agree with Colleen. Their believes are centered around the doctrine of Ellen G. White. This is contrary to Biblical teaching! Therefore I am compelled to question their salvation.

Denene Klosterman

Anonymous said...

Adventism is a false gospel, teaches an incomplete atonement, has Arian roots, and a modern (19th century) prophetess who is a "continuing and authoritative source of truth".

Just FYI, if you want a bit more information from someone who's not a "former", here's a link to a talk given on February 13, 2009, at Trinity E.V. Free Church in Redlands, CA. Paul Carden, the speaker, is the executive director of the Centers for Apologetics Research. Carden used to work with the late, famed Walter Martin and co-hosted the radio "Bible Answer Man" with Martin for six years.

Carden has continued the apologetics work he began with Martin, but he founded his own ministry and has CFAR offices in at least six countries.

Here's a link to the video of the talk: http://www.formeradventist.com/weekends/faf2009video1.html