On Sunday morning, July 5, the Associated Press reported that Pope John Paul II sternly reminded Catholics to obey the Third Commandment and go to church on the Lord's day. "In obedience to the Third Commandment, Sunday must be sanctified, above all by participation in holy Mass."
This "stern reminder" falls on deaf ears as many Catholics and Protestants have found themselves wondering by what authority does a religious ruler speak in regards to what the lay members of a congregation ought or ought not do. Both Catholics and Protestants have urged through the years that their congregations attend Mass or church on Sunday. They have quoted the Fourth Commandment (except the Pope who quotes the Third), to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Strangely, it does not seem to register with some that the Sabbath of the Scriptures has never been Sunday. Neither is there any command to keep that day and neither is it the Lord's day as is so often promoted from Roman and American pulpits.
These days there is so much confusion it behooves us to sit back and take a reality check. When a man approaches us and says black is white and another says black is yellow, does it not seem reasonable to decide for ourselves what color black is?
The Pope tells us that Sunday should be made holy since it is the Third Commandment. Let's look and see what the Bible says about the Commandments. I have a Catholic Bible before me here on my desk and I will quote from that. One can find the Ten Commandments in Exodus, Chapter 20. Commandment One says, "You shall have no other gods before me." Commandment Two says, "You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth." I can see now how the Pope thought it was best to leave this one out. Commandment Three says, "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain." Commandment Four says, "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; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates."
Let's see now. The Scriptures say that the Fourth Commandment commands one to keep the seventh day holy. It is not the Third Commandment unless you leave out the commandment that says don't make any images of anything and put them in your churches. If we want to keep all the commandments listed, the Sabbath commandment is the fourth if one can count that high. Now, if one can count to seven, one can find out which day that is. Let's see now. I will open up my calendar to July and start counting the days. Sunday is the first day of the week. Monday is the second day, Tuesday is the third day, Wednesday is the fourth day, Thursday is the fifth day, Friday is the sixth day, and Saturday is the seventh day. One need not even know how to count to eight to get that right. The Jews have been able to count to seven for hundreds of years, but most professed Christians have had trouble counting. They are still learning to count.
Sunday church attendance has slipped for many years and for good reason. In the early ages the Christians kept the Sabbath of the Bible in obedience to the commandments of God. As pagan influences came in, the Sabbath was gradually replaced and Sunday became more prominent; Sunday being the "venerable day of the Sun." Professed Christians over the generations didn't give this much thought and it became generally accepted that Sunday was the Sabbath. During the time of the Reformation when the Bible was being printed and more people were reading it, various Protestant groups began to teach that Sabbath was Saturday and not Sunday. This was common with some Waldensian Christians and some Anna Baptists. As time progressed, Seventh-day Baptists and, later, Seventh-day Adventists, along with some others, began to make stronger arguments for the seventh-day Sabbath. Herbert W. Armstrong's World Wide Church of God agitated widely this fact in his Plain Truth magazine.
Within all of this agitation the mainline Protestant ministers responded to this obvious Sabbath fact with the statement that the Commandments were done away. They would tell their congregations, "the law is done away with." If they didn't buy that story, they would give them the nonsense that the calendar was changed. In that way, they wouldn't have to go to all the work of changing days (revealing how wrong they had been) since people in modern times were beginning to learn to count and read. As the people began to take all this in and believe that the Commandments were "done away with", then why would one need to go to church on Sunday? Not only was Sunday not the Sabbath, but, according to their preachers, the Sabbath was done away. Considering this, on what authority does a Pope or minister have to tell them they should now go to church on any day? Other than Scripture there is no authority for a minister to say anything unless he thinks he's God or some equivalent .
Today, most churches have given up on commandments since they believe they can't be kept anyway and for other obvious inconsistencies in their convoluted reasoning. They are trying other things to get people to church like having a high time and getting a band in there to get folks excited and active. People can't be encouraged to get to church for the reason of obedience anymore since obedience to God's commandments is out, but parties are in. If people get to sing and dance, having a generally good time, who needs obedience and who cares what day it is? A good party is a good party.
Others try to get their folks out to church based on the notion that they are the true church in reality and all the others aren't. Lots of folks do that. There are many true churches out there that can't agree on much. The Catholics believe their church is the true one because they say they go back to the apostles. Seventh-day Adventists believe they are the true movement of God, since they can count to seven and get to church on the right day as well as having a prophet a hundred years ago or so. Mormons had a prophet and he had a number of wives like King David, so that makes them qualify as the true church. Jehovah's Witnesses get around to the neighborhood every Tuesday and they knock on doors. Certainly, being Jehovah's Witness makes them the true church on that name alone. Churches of Christ think they are the true church. They have a long list of interpretations of Scripture to support their contention. They don't seem to think it matters that one obeys God, since they think the Sabbath is done away also. Of course, one must obey the things they decide one must obey. I once attended a Baptist church whose members reminded me they went back to John the Baptist so that made them the really true church. The true church doctrine works for awhile until people learn to count and read. The Bible teaches that the true church constitutes those who obey God, following Him wherever He goes, doing whatever He says and having His Spirit. Some of the churches believe the Spirit of God has to do with making noises no one can understand. They cannot fathom it has something to do with seeing with God's eyes and understanding with His understanding.
I believe everyone should have the religion he wants. People should have freedom to worship as they like. That is good and that is God-given, but none should tell me I ought to do something or keep something holy unless God says I ought to. If men say God has something for me to do, I will know if that is true or not, since God will tell me so. Does not one suppose our God is big enough for that? Some would have us believe we need to be forced to do this or that. Government and religion have been doing that for millennia. It seems their god is not big enough to take care of himself (or herself) so he/she needs poor wretched humans to help him/her. I think it's obvious what happens when poor wretched humans put their hand to it. They say God didn't say what He said, or do what He did. God told us all along that this would happen. He said,
"And he shall ...think to change times and laws....Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!...Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things...and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them." Dan. 7:25, Isa 5:20, Eze 22:26.
Well, the Pope wants everyone to go to church on Sunday anyway. I guess for some people it doesn't have to make sense or be scriptural. Some folks think that just because they say black is white that makes it so. God has something to say about that.
And so it is written: "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name; I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them...by sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed. (Jeremiah 14:14-15, RSV).
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