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The Moment of Truth - Lesson 33

The Great Trickery

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Welcome to this lesson! Let’s pray together:

Our Father,

After learning about the seventh day, the day of rest which You have blessed and hallowed, we are truly amazed to note that most Christians are instead keeping the first day of the week, Sunday.

Where does this change come from? And more important, did You allow this change?

May Your Holy Book give us the answers to these questions, and may Your Holy Spirit guide us in our study.

In Jesus’ name we pray.


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John 16:12

I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.


Here again, to properly understand this lesson, you must first have studied the previous lesson entitled «A Day to Remember».

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Deuteronomy 4:2

You shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish ought from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.


Luke 16:17

[Jesus said,]

«It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one pronunciation mark of the law to fail.»


Our preceding lessons have shown us that the Ten Commandments, which are the expression of God’s will for us, will never be changed nor abolished.

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Among the Ten Commandments, we find this one: Exodus 20:8-11

«Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Six days shall you labor, and do all your work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.

In it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates.

For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day.

Why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.»

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Genesis 2:2,3

And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made.

And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made.


1 Chronicles 17:27

For You bless, O Lord, and it shall be blessed for ever.


God blessed the seventh day, and what He blesses is blessed forever.

Thus the fourth commandment, about the Sabbath, is as eternal as the other nine.

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Ecclesiastes 3:14

I know that, whatever God does, it shall be for ever.

Nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it.


So, where does the observance of the first day (Sunday) come from? Some people claim that the Word of God well and truly confirms this change of the day of rest. Is it true?

To get an answer to this question, let’s look at all the verses in the New Testament mentioning the first day of the week.

There are only eight of them, and we will study them one by one to see if they really teach a change in the day of rest.

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5 of the 8 verses simply report the women’s visit to Jesus’ tomb:

«In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.» (Matthew 28:1)

«And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came to the sepulcher at the rising of the sun.» (Mark 16:2)

«Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene.» (Mark 16:9)

«Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the sepulcher.» (Luke 24:1)

«The first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early, when it was yet dark, to the sepulcher.» (John 20:1)

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John 20:19

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the middle, and said to them,

«Peace be with you.»


Here again, there is no indication of a change of the day of rest.

Some people say that the disciples were assembled to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. However, we see that they were actually assembled «for fear of the Jews».

As for the resurrection of Jesus, they did not yet believe it at that time!

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Acts 20:7

On the first day of the week, the disciples came together to break bread.


Acts 2:46

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness.


The seventh of the eight verses mentioning the first day of the week reports a meeting in which the disciples broke bread.

For some people, breaking bread is an act certifying that Sunday was the new day of rest.

However, we see in the second verse that the disciples were gathering and breaking bread every day!

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1 Corinthians 16:2

On the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.


Finally, in this verse, some people see a collection of offerings during a meeting held on the first day of the week.

But Paul does not speak of a meeting. He actually advises the Christians in Corinth to store up offerings, each one at home, for a future collection.

So, none of the eight verses mentioning the first day of the week confirms the replacement of the Sabbath with Sunday as God’s day of rest.

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Revelation 1:10

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.


In addition to the eight verses mentioning the first day of the week, we find this one which contains the expression «the Lord’s day».

Some people claim that this expression refers to Sunday, the new day of rest for Christians.

However, let’s suppose for a moment that the expression «Lord’s day» refers to a specific day of the week: would it be Sunday?

Let’s look closely at the next verses.

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Exodus 20:10

The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.


Isaiah 58:13

If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day (...).


The Word of God is clear: the one and only «Lord’s day» is the seventh day, the Sabbath of the Lord.

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Matthew 24:20

Pray you that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day.


In our previous lesson, we saw that while He was on earth, Jesus never implied that the day of rest should be changed from Saturday to Sunday.

On the contrary, He gave instructions for the future, such as this one, showing that He expected His disciples to continue keeping the Sabbath.

So, how did this Sundaykeeping begin in the Christian Church?

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Romans 11:13

For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify my office.


As the apostolic Church was growing, more and more Gentiles joined it, bringing with them some pagan customs which slowly mixed with the Christian form of worship.

Among these customs was the observance of the day of the Sun, the first day of the week, Sunday.

Around the third century, Sunday gained ground on Saturday which was increasingly associated with the Jewish religion, and thus the Sabbath was gradually abandoned.

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Acts 20:29,30

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.


In our next lessons, we will see how the Word of God has foretold that men would change the day of rest, from Saturday to Sunday.

But for now, let’s carefully read the testimony of the Roman Catholic Church itself, which willingly and openly acknowledges that it bears sole responsibility for the change of the day of rest.

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The Catholic Church, not the Bible, teaches the observance of Sunday:

«We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.»
(Peter Geiermann, The Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, 1977, p.50.)

«It is worthwhile to remember that this observance of Sunday, in which after all the only Protestant worship consists, not only has no foundation in the Bible, but it is in flagrant contradiction with its letter, which commands rest on the Sabbath, which is Saturday. It was the Catholic Church which, by the authority of Jesus Christ, has transferred this rest to the Sunday.»
(Monsignor Louis Segur, Plain Talk About the Protestantism of Today, 1868 ed., p.213.)

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The Catholic Church recognizes that the Bible does not sanctify Sunday:

«You may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we [Roman Catholics] never sanctify.»
(Catholic Cardinal James Gibbons, The Faith of Our Fathers, 1917 ed., pp.72,73.)

«Sunday is a Catholic institution, and its claims to observance can be defended only on Catholic principles. (...) From the beginning to end of Scripture, there is not a single passage that warrants the transfer of weekly public worship from the last day of the week to the first.»
(Catholic Press, Sydney, Australia, August 25, 1900.)

«If Protestants would follow the Bible, they should worship God on the Sabbath Day. In keeping the Sunday, they are following a law of the Catholic Church.»
(Albert Smith, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, letter dated February 10, 1920.)

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The Catholic Church admits that Jesus and the apostles kept the Sabbath:

«The Sabbath, the most glorious day in the law, has been changed into the Lord’s day. (...) These and other similar matters have not ceased by virtue of Christ’s teaching (for He says He has come to fulfill the law, not to destroy it), but they have been changed by the authority of the church.»
(Archbishop Gaspare de Fosso, Sacrorum Conciliorum nova amplissima Collectio, 1902, vol.33, pp.529,530.)

«The apostles, in fact, continued to observe the Sabbath, that is to say Saturday, (...) from Friday, at sunset, to Saturday at the same hour.»
(Abbot Boulanger, Catholic Doctrine, p.62.)

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The Catholic Church willingly recognizes going against the Word of God:

«Nowhere in the Bible is it stated that worship should be changed from Saturday to Sunday. (...) Now the Church instituted, by God’s authority, Sunday as the day of worship.»
(Martin J. Scott, Things Catholics Are Asked About, 1927 ed., p.136.)

«The Catholic Church, (...) by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday.»
(Catholic Cardinal James Gibbons, The Catholic Mirror, September 23, 1893.)

«If we consulted the Bible only, we should still have to keep holy the Sabbath Day, that is, Saturday.»
(John Laux, A Course in Religion for Catholic High Schools and Academies, 1936 ed., vol.1, p.51.)

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Sundaykeeping is a recognition of the authority of the Catholic Church:

«Since Saturday, not Sunday, is specified in the Bible, isn’t it curious that non-Catholics who profess to take their religion directly from the Bible and not from the Church, observe Sunday instead of Saturday? Yes, of course, it is inconsistent. (...) The custom of Sunday observance rests upon the authority of the Catholic Church and not upon an explicit text in the Bible. That observance remains as a reminder of the Mother Church from which the non-Catholic sects broke away - like a boy running away from home but still carrying in his pocket a picture of his mother or a lock of her hair.»
(Roman Catholic scholar John A. O’Brien, The Faith of Millions, 1974, p.400,401.)

«Appealing to the fact that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday, contrary to the Ten Commandments. No case is appealed to and urged so consistently as the change of the Sabbath, for thereby they wish to maintain that the power of the Church is indeed great because the Church has dispensed from and altered part of the Ten Commandments.»
(Thomas Aquinas, Suma Theologica, II, q.122, a.4.)

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THE CHOICE: the Bible and Sabbath, or the Catholic Church and Sunday.

«Reason and sense demand the acceptance of one or the other of these alternatives: either Protestantism and the keeping holy of Saturday, or Catholicity and the keeping holy of Sunday. Compromise is impossible.»
(Catholic Cardinal James Gibbons, The Catholic Mirror, December 23, 1893.)

«The Church changed the observance of the Sabbath to Sunday by right of the divine, infallible authority given to her by her Founder, Jesus Christ. The Protestant, claiming the Bible to be the only guide of faith, has no warrant for observing Sunday. In this matter the Seventh-day Adventist is the only consistent Protestant.»
(The Catholic Universe Bulletin, August 14, 1942, p.4.)

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Acts 5:29

We ought to obey God rather than men.


After having read all these eloquent testimonies, what will we choose: the commandment of God, or the tradition of men?

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Matthew 15:3

[Jesus said,]

«Why do you also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?»


During His ministry here on earth, Jesus met people who would rather keep their tradition than observe the commandments of God.

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Mark 7:7-9

[Jesus said,]

«“In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men. (...)

Full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition.»


Now, choosing the tradition of men rather than the commandment of God was openly and straightforwardly reproved by Jesus.

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Ezekiel 22:26

Her priests have violated My law, and have profaned My holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they showed difference between the unclean and the clean.

And they have hid their eyes from My sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.


Matthew 15:14

Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind.


Throughout history, there have always been all kinds of religious leaders influencing people to disobey the commandments of God and to profane the Sabbath.

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Acts 17:10,11

And the brothers immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night to Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.


Fortunately, there have also always been people studying the Word of God to verify if the teachings of their spiritual leaders are well and truly in accordance with God’s will.

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Ezekiel 20:18-20

Walk you not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols.

I am the Lord your God; walk in My statutes, and keep My judgments, and do them.

And hallow My Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.


God calls us to reject the tradition of men which is honored all around us, in order to come back to His commandments, and to observe the day of rest which He designated from Creation: the seventh day, the Sabbath.

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Luke 11:23

[Jesus said,] «He that is not with Me is against Me.»


Joshua 24:15

And if it seem evil to you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.

But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.


Now, each one of us must take a stand:

- following God and keeping His Sabbath;

- profaning His Sabbath and thus being against Him.

The choice is ours, and we cannot sit on the fence.

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Deuteronomy 30:15,16

See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil; in that I command you this day to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply.

And the Lord your God shall bless you in the land where you go to possess it.


Our future lessons on Bible prophecy will show us that the struggle is going to be more and more fiery between the commandments of God and the tradition of men.

And our choice between the two will be crucial.

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Let’s close this lesson with a prayer:

Our Almighty Lord,

As the psalmist said, «Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.» (Psalm 119:105).

So many people are lost far away from You, not understanding Your will for them. But if they really wanted to turn to You, and open Your Word in a spirit of prayer, with the sincere desire to obey what You reveal to them, they would come out of darkness, forsake the tradition of men and keep Your holy Sabbath.

May we be Your instruments to bring them to Your Word, in Jesus Christ.


The test of Lesson 33 is waiting for you!

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