Archive for May 11, 2010

Israel’s Holy Days and the Dispensation of Grace

May 11, 2010

The religious observance of days is a test of one’s understanding of the entire teaching of “the revelation of the mystery” (Romans 16:25) committed to Paul. During “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2; Colossians 1:25), the law, as a rule of conduct, is not once applied to the believer. We find the Sabbath mentioned nine times in the book of Acts – a transitional book – in reference to the Twelve Apostles in Israel’s Kingdom Church, and without mention of the “revelation of the mystery” which was given to Paul. During this unique period Paul himself took advantage of the Sabbath to share the gospel (I Corinthians 9:20); but when you get to the writings of Paul, which constitute the body of truth for this age (Romans 2:16), there are only two references to the observance of days. Read these passages carefully:

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ (Colossians 2:16-17).

… How turn you again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days, and months, and times, and years (Galatians 4:9-10).

In these two passages we learn that all Israel’s holy days were simply a “shadow of things to come,” and that Paul even refers to them as “weak and beggarly elements.”

Sunday Worship

Among the most destructive errors of our day are those that are a result of mixing law and grace. A fine example of such wresting of the Scriptures of which we are to beware (II Peter 3:16-17) is the so-called “Christian Sabbath.”

In this error it is taught that the Old Testament observance of the “seventh-day Sabbath” has somehow been transferred to a “first-day Sabbath.” This is taught and practiced in many denominations with different degrees of “bondage” attached (Galatians 4:9-10). Although this teaching was much more bold in past generations, its effects are still firmly established in present day Christendom. Yet the fact established by the Paul’s letters is that believers in this age have no divinely decreed days of observance – None.

No day is holy in itself – all days are alike. A day or anything else is holy only by divine decree. No such decree appears anywhere in those epistles written by Paul. The Body of Christ has no “signs” or “covenants” and no observance of days. Paul actually feared those who observed days.

You observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain (Galatians 4:10-11).

Even though Paul encouraged the reception of those members of Christ’s Body who observed days, he said that they observed them as a result of being “weak in the faith,” and that they were not to be received “to doubtful disputations.”

Him who is weak in the faith receive, but not to doubtful disputations (Romans 14:1).

The Lord’s Day

There is also the teaching that Sunday is “the Lord’s Day.” This is clearly the religious “traditions of men” (Mark 7:13; Colossians 2:8). There is absolutely no such teaching found anywhere in the Bible! The Lord’s Day (or “Day of the Lord”) is actually a prophetic day starting at the end of this age. For further study on the Day of the Lord see Revelation 1:10; Isaiah 2:12; 13:6-18; 34:8; Jeremiah 46:10; Amos 5:18-20; Joel 2; Zechariah 14; Malachi 4:5-6; I Thessalonians 5:2; II Peter 3:10.

The “first-day” of the week is by no means a day to be observed and is not subject to any special rule. This topic is essential in understanding God’s new order for today (i.e., “the dispensation of the grace of God”). We enjoy every day as unto the Lord.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 1989, 2010

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