Modern Sabbath Issues

BIBLE INSTRUCTOR: Modern Sabbath Issues

One of the SDA fundamental beliefs- Sabbath

We are living in the time of the world's greatest apostasy. Babylon the great has many daughters. A confused world is being deceived by a revival of heathen philosophies, papal mysticisms, and the irresolute teachings of fallen Protestantism. Our message today must meet great systems of error. It must strike at the very heart of God's law as it challenges a generally blinded Christendom to return to God's original holy, seventh-day Sab bath. Tactfully, but nevertheless definitely, we must point out the great papal deception as being responsible for the transference of the sanctity of the seventh day, the sign of His sovereignty, to Sunday, the first day of the week.

The Bible teacher must observe how adroitly Rome is shifting her positions on the important Sunday issue. Catholics, with deceived Protestants, now loudly declare that the Sabbath be longed to the ceremonial law, and was therefore fulfilled at the cross. Protestantism is laying new stress on an observance of the "spirit" instead of the "letter" of God's law. A close student of prophecy must see how these two religious forces are blending their arguments in support of Sun day. Then there is Jewry to be heard from on the same question. Here we perceive a complete lack of vision, with absolutely no courage to return to Jehovah's neglected Sabbath. The fathers of this race once -boldly contended for strict Sabbath observance, but Jews today have become indifferent on the question. The result is often stark atheism on the part of many who were once orthodox.

It becomes more evident that a remnant will soon be standing alone in defense of God's true Sabbath. The Sabbath was instituted at creation, and today, when evolutionary teachings prevail, our worship of the Creator as called for in the first angel's message is not without significance. This is a vital point which the Bible teacher can afford to stress in the setting of the judgment-hour message.

Building Up to the Sabbath Truth

One would hardly begin a series of Bible readings by presenting the Sabbath truth. Unless this unpopular subject has first been given a build-up, few will be prepared to receive it. Bible instructors have therefore found it helpful to precede their Sabbath studies with the sanctuary topics. When the reader once grasps God's plan of atonement, and when he senses the importance of the law in connection with it, the Sabbath harmonizes with redemption and presents but little difficulty. It' is most helpful to teach the law and the gospel prior to introducing the Sabbath.

History so well supports our arguments on the true Sabbath that honest Christians will not fail to acknowledge the source of Sunday observance.' Neither is there much question on the Sabbath as a Christian institution after one has really studied into the practices of the early Christians. Another point of force is the presentation of the Sabbath in prophecy as well as history. As the periods of Sabbath neglect are now pointed out, and the reader observes what dire calamities resulted, these Sabbath prophecies speak with new significance for obedience to it. He begins to see that the Sabbath is in God's divine plan. It is the sign of His creative and re-creative power. The Sabbath was made for man, and therefore belongs to the Christian as well as to the Jewish church. It is not affected by "dispensations," races, or creeds.

Modern Law Interpretations

Because of strange interpretations of the prophecies of Isaiah and Micah as pertaining to the law, new zeal for the observance of God's law is now recognized among many Christians. Much is made of the text, "Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." Isa. 2:3. In this connection there is a revival of emphasis on the teachings of the return of the Jews to Jerusalem. Zionism fits into the political picture of our times, and dis- pensationalism engenders doctrinal stimulus by means of perverted prophecy. This emphasis for observing the Ten Commandments as shared by Christians and Jews alike hardly touches the principle of true law observance. But, nevertheless, this setting of an awareness for keeping God's law gives the Bible instructor a more ready approach on this important subject. One may point out to the reader that although the nations will fail in bringing about worldwide law observance, God has provided for a message of Sabbath reform which will produce a law- abiding remnant before Jesus' return.

Overtures of the Papacy

The Papacy's present overtures to her "straying children"—those still in Protestant churches —presents another point of interest with many readers. The Pope's long-coveted role as the world's peacemaker now brings him into great prominence. Even Protestants are being con fused on the authority of his leadership in the present crisis. Again, those issues that gave rise to the various branches of Protestantism at the time of the Reformation are now being seriously minimized by Protestants as well as Catholics. It is difficult to interest Protestants in doctrinal study. We should be challenging them to maintain Bible truth.

Lest our younger Bible instructors read into these suggestions and cautions a need for recast ing their entire array of topics and textual argumentation, let it be stressed again that it is their methods of approach that should become more dynamic, with an up-to-the-minute appeal. To do this, the Bible teacher need not enter into fields of speculation on prophecies still in fulfillment. This hour demands an acquaintance with those great issues that are affecting the very principles of God's government. We must recognize on Rome's part a scheme of Satan to set up a rival government, noting the modern developments that reveal the subtle tactics of truth's great adversary.

This method of teaching requires more than our usual argumentation based on an array of proof texts pertain ing to the Sabbath. There are significant issues at stake, and when presented by the teacher in an intelligent way, people who think for themselves will in turn become leaders for these same principles.

For further study of the problem we recommend the following reading: Evangelism, pp. 225-237; The Great Controversy, pp. 563-652.



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November 1951

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