Later Apostolic Teaching

Many Protestant theologians have been schooled in the theory of "progressive revelation." But we will see that this theory is nothing less than a complete perversion of the truth. It conveys the idea that the ancient prophets were simply Hebrew philosophers trying to devise their own concept of a divine being. Then along comes Jesus, a Jewish carpenter—heavily influenced by the religion and morals of His time—living and teaching under the Old Covenant. Jesus' original Apostles, according to this theory, were, likewise, unsophisticated, backward and didn't really "understand."

Then comes the Apostle Paul—the "liberator," as the theory goes—and things begin to get better. For Paul is said to be willing to "break out" of the Jewish mold and introduce modern Christianity—Gentile Christianity—which would be more acceptable to the world at large.

The trouble with the above theory is that it is GROSSLY INACCURATE! For it attempts to completely negate Jesus' own command, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD of God" (Luke 4:4). And we must remember that aside from the life and teaching of Jesus Himself, the only Word of God available to humanity when He made this pronouncement was the Old Testament. This fact poses a major problem for these progressive theologians. For both the Old Testament prophets and Jesus Christ very clearly taught OBEDIENCE to the Ten Commandments—including seventh-day Sabbath observance. Even many Protestant theologians acknowledge that Jesus taught and kept the Sabbath day.

And what the "progressive revelation" teachers also cannot explain is that the original apostolic writings very directly and very powerfully uphold the concept of obeying the Ten Commandments as the Christian way of life—once again, including keeping God's Sabbath.

James, the brother of Jesus Christ, who became the presiding Apostle at Jerusalem, wrote, "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, 'Do not commit adultery,' also said, 'Do not murder.' Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty" (James 2:10-12). So true Christians are to keep the "whole law." It is a law with "points"—including the commands against murder and adultery. Clearly, this law is the Ten Commandments. And James said that if we "stumble" in failing to keep even one point of this law—obviously including the Sabbath—we are "guilty of ALL"!

John, the Apostle "Jesus loved," also wrote about God's law— near the END of the apostolic age. If anyone were to give us a new "progressive" teaching, it would be him. So what "progressive revelation," then, did John give us? He was inspired by God to write, "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:3-4).

A person may know about God by coming to understand only part of the Truth. But to genuinely and personally "know" Him, John says that we must experience God's way of life by KEEPING His commandments! For God's kind of love—His very nature and character—is revealed in the Ten Commandments. Again, as John wrote, God's very LOVE is expressed in the Ten Commandments: "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (5:3). And anyone who fails to literally keep the Ten Commandments—not perfectly, of course, but as a way of life—is DISOBEYING his Creator and in fact does not really "know" God!

What about Paul? Did he dismiss God's law? By no means! In Romans 2:13, he wrote, "For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the DOERS of the law will be justified." And in 1 Corinthians 7:19, he stated, "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters." Again, this certainly includes the fourth commandment concerning the Sabbath!

Furthermore, the Apostle Paul is traditionally understood to have written the book of Hebrews—and there is strong evidence to support that tradition. Because of his rabbinic training in the technical intricacies of the Mosaic law, he was undoubtedly the most qualified of all the Apostles to thoroughly explain the New Covenant that God is making with all humanity—the very theme of Hebrews. After this book describes how God spoke of the "seventh day" as the day of rest (4:4), it goes on to state, "There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God" (v. 9, NASB).

This is a very interesting passage. Chapters 3 and 4 of Hebrews talk about God's people entering into "rest." The Israelites in the wilderness wanted to enter God's "rest"—meaning to finally cease from wandering and settle in the Promised Land. And that did happen in the days of Moses' successor, Joshua. Yet also mentioned here is the fact that the Eternal God later inspired King David to write of entering God's rest as something still future. Hebrews states, "For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day" (4:8). This is obviously speaking of the coming Millennium, or 1,000-year period, of Christ's rule on earth—since the future Kingdom of God is the "Promised Land" for true Christians.

It is in this context that Hebrews talks about a Sabbath rest remaining for God's people. In almost every case in chapters 3 and 4, the Greek word for physical rest—katapausin—is used for God's rest. But in verse 9, God inspired a different word to be used—sab-batismos. Many translations render it simply as "rest," just like they do katapausin. But that is confusing, since it is, in fact, a different word. The New American Standard Bible, quoted above, uses "Sabbath rest." But does this mean literal, weekly Sabbath-keeping? The Anchor Bible Dictionary says yes, assuring us that sab-batismos refers to "seventh day Sabbath celebration." Thus, the

New Testament states very clearly that seventh-day Sabbath-keeping is to continue for true Christians.

However, some argue that this means we should just rest from our sinful works in our new life in Jesus. But notice what is added in the next verse: "For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His." Did God "rest" from His work of SIN? Of course not. He rested from CREAT-ING—His occupational work as the Creator. And on what day did God "rest"—setting us the example? "God rested on the seventh day from all His works" (v. 4). And so must we.

However, the context of these verses does show that the Sabbath is more than just a memorial of creation. It is indeed a physical TYPE of something else—and we should observe it as such. But that something is NOT primarily the Christian life in this age. It is, rather, our life in the future millennial rest of TOMORROW'S WORLD—when Jesus Christ sets up the Kingdom of God over the entire earth.

Notice what the Commentary on the Whole Bible by Jamieson, Fausset & Brown has to say about Hebrews 4:9: "This verse indirectly establishes the obligation of the Sabbath still; for the type continues until the antitype supersedes it." As the coming millennial Sabbath "will not be till Christ... comes..., the typical earthly Sabbath must continue till then." Yet, as we will later see, even in Tomorrow's World human beings will continue to keep God's weekly Sabbath holy.

How clear! Here in the book of Hebrews we find a direct New Testament command for Christians to "rest" on the seventh-day Sabbath! It was probably given, interestingly enough, through the Apostle to the Gentiles—the very Apostle whom so many Protestant theologians insist "did away" with God's law!

This section in Hebrews 4 concludes thus: "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience" of those in ancient Israel (v. 11). The phrase, "the same example of disobedience," should resonate deeply with students of the Bible. For, just as Sabbath-breaking and idolatry factored heavily in the Israelites' national captivity and slavery, these two sins were also major reasons that most of their forefa-

Text from Faith of Our Fathers by James Cardinal Gibbons, first published in 1876. This well-known American Catholic leader stated quite clearly that there is no Scriptural authority for changing the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday.


Third—A rule of faith, or a competent guide to heaven, must be able to instruct in all the truths necessary for salvation. Now the Scriptures alone do not contain all the truths which a Christian is bound to believe, nor do they explicitly enjoin all the duties which he is obliged to practice. Not to mention other examples, is not every Christian obliged to sanctify Sunday and to abstain on that day from unnecessary servile work? Is not the observance of this law among the most prominent of our sacred duties? BBut 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 never sanctify.

The Catholic Church correctly teaches that our Lord and His Apostles inculcated certain important duties of religion which are not recorded by the inspired writers.1 For instance, most Christians pray to the Holy Ghost, a practice which is nowhere found in the Bible.

We must, therefore, conclude that the Scriptures alone cannot be a sufficient guide and rule of faith because they cannot, at any time, be within the reach of every inquirer; because they are not of themselves clear and intelligible even in matters of the highest importance, and because they do not contain all the truths necessary for salvation.

thers died during the 40 years of wandering before inheriting the Promised Land.

You should read God's indictment of ancient Israel in Ezekiel 20:10-24. Notice here verses 12-13: "Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them. Yet the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness; they did not walk in My statutes; they despised My judgments, which, if a man does, he shall live by them; and they greatly defiled My Sabbaths. Then I said I would pour out My fury on them in the wilderness, to consume them."

Therefore, repeating the inspired instruction from the book of Hebrews, let ALL true Christians be careful to NOT follow that "same example of disobedience" by failing to keep holy the only day of the week God made holy—the seventh-day Sabbath!

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