God’s Word vs Man’s Word with Respect to the Sabbath

According to the Bible there are many kinds of religions in the world. One is the kind that Jesus had. Many, in Christian countries of the world, desire to have Jesus’ kind of religion. However, many do not really know what kind of religion He had. They believe that if you simply profess to be a Christian that you are practicing the kind of religion that Jesus had. Is that true? How do we know what Jesus’ religion was like? Jesus Himself told us in Matthew 4:4: ” ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” ’ ” Therefore, the religion that Jesus had was based on the Word of God.

Jesus lived among the Jews, the chosen people of God. They professed to be the people of God and to have the oracles of God. They boasted, “We have the Word of God.” And they did, but they were not living by every word in His Book. They were too busy studying the traditions and counsels of the wise men of the land, which had been added to God’s Word. They actually paid more attention to these additions than to the Word of God. They did not have the religion of Jesus.

This caused a controversy. The religious leaders were constantly harassing Jesus because He did not keep all of their traditions. Matthew 15 tells of one such instance: “Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, ‘Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.’ [This was a mandatory ritual washing.] But He answered and said to them, ‘Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, “Honor your father and your mother;” and, “He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.” ‘But you say, “Whoever says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever profit you might have received from me has been dedicated to the temple’ is released from honoring his father or mother.” Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: “This people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” ’ ” Matthew 15:1–9.

This is something to think about! Remember, these were not the heathen, idol worshipers of the world, these were people that were religious and worshiped God. But Jesus said their religion was worthless. It was worthless because they honored God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him. They said, “We believe the Word of God.” But they did not practice it because they had added to it the commandments of men, which were contrary to the Word of God.

The apostles had the same problem with setting up a man-made religion in the place of God’s religion. Paul had to deal with it over and over again. Notice what he says in Colossians: “Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—‘Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,’ which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” Colossians 2:20–23.

When you look at the many different religions of the world, there are really only two kinds. One religion is based on the Word of God and the other rests on the word of men. And it doesn’t matter who the men are. They may be the most intelligent and brilliant of all men, yet they are mere men. All the heathen religions of the world are based on the words of their founders or religious leaders. And regretfully, the great majority of Christians today have for their ultimate authority the words of religious leaders and not the Word of God. How did Jesus describe that type of religion? He said it was absolutely worthless!


How Are We to Worship?


If we want to have God’s true type of religion, we must ask, how are we to worship God. The Bible tells us exactly. The Psalmist wrote: “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, And the great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.” Psalm 95:1–7.

Notice, that the reason the Bible says we are to worship the God of heaven is because He is the Creator. He is the one who made the sea and the dry land, and we are the people of His pasture. Because He is our Creator, we owe Him our worship. This subject is so important that it is imbedded in the heart of God’s law. The very first commandment tells us how we are to relate to God because He is our Creator. It says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:3. God tells us that we should have no other gods before Him, because only He can claim us as His creation.

The second commandment is more explicit about this problem of worshipping other gods. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—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; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, of those who love Me and keep My commandments.” Exodus 20:4–6. We are not to worship any man, saint, martyr, or angel of heaven. (For Bible examples see Acts 10, Revelation 22:8, 9.)

But the commandment that is the most explicit about who we are to worship and why we are to worship Him is the fourth commandment. It says: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8–11.


Is There a New Covenant Sabbath?


I have often heard people say, after reading the fourth commandment: “Yes, I believe in the Sabbath commandment in the time of the Old Covenant, but now we are living in the time of the New Covenant and I believe that the Sabbath commandment has been changed from Saturday to Sunday.”

Is there any record in the Word of God that a change of this type has occurred? We read the following concerning the new covenant in the Word of God. “Where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force (confirmed) after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.” Hebrews 9:16, 17. Paul tells us here that the new covenant was confirmed by the death of Christ. Once Christ died, the covenant could not be changed. (The Ten Commandments are called God’s covenant in Deuteronomy 4:13.) Any change that was to occur in God’s law or His covenant had to be made prior to the death of Christ. Paul wrote in another place, “Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it.” Galatians 3:15.

There is no evidence that a change occurred before the death of Christ. In fact, the Bible says that Jesus, “as His custom was . . . went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day.” Luke 4:16. Jesus Himself said, “I have kept My Father’s commandments.” John 15:10.

A careful study shows that there is no record of a change of the Sabbath anywhere in the New Testament. Instead, there is a direct command, to keep the Sabbath, written many years after the death of Christ. This command is found in Hebrews 4. In this passage, Paul is writing about Israel, which received the judgments of God because she was breaking God’s Sabbath. (See Jeremiah 17, Ezekiel 20.) Paul says, “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He said: ‘So I swore in my wrath, “they [the children of Israel] shall not enter My rest,”’ although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works’; and again in this place: ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, ‘Today,’ after such a long time, as it has been said: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.’ For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day.” Hebrews 4:2–8.

Paul is talking here about how the Israelites did not keep the Sabbath, and refused to enter into God’s rest. But he says that a rest remains for us. Notice that this is not a new rest that was just established at the cross of Christ. This was the rest that had existed since the foundation of the world—the seventh day Sabbath rest. Paul says, “There remains therefore a rest [in Greek the word is “sabbatismos” or the keeping of a Sabbath] to the people of God.” Hebrews 4:9.

Then he says in verse 10: “For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. [God ceased from His work of creation on the seventh day.] Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.” This is a direct command! We are to be diligent to enter that rest, the seventh day Sabbath rest that he is talking about. If we do not, we will fall after the same example of disobedience.

There are only two kinds of religion in the world. There is a religion that is based on the Word of God and a religion that is based on the traditions of men. Which one will you follow? If you follow the Word of God, then you must keep the seventh day Sabbath. If you follow the word of men, then you can keep Friday, or Sunday, or whatever day men choose for you to keep. The choice is yours.