5 thoughts on “Sermon: Acts 20”

  1. This is a bit late, but I finally listened to this sermon. There was much good, but I have to disagree with your statement that the early church regularly met on Sunday. If you do a word search on “sabbath” in the book of Acts you will find many references like this:

    Acts 13:42 And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.

    Similar verses about the first day are lacking.

    Also consider the verse you quote from, (Acts 20:7) – “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.”

    Since they reckoned days from the evening (after sunset), and not by midnight as we do, the “first day of the week” would start on Saturday night, by our reckoning. This would make sense with Paul’s late-night speech. So, “upon the first day of the week” or Saturday night after sunset, they “came together to break bread” and “Paul preached…until midnight”.

    He was “ready to depart on the morrow” which would be our daytime Sunday. He devoted that day to travelling, so there was nothing particularly sacred about it.

    The usual two verses used to prove Sunday observance are the resurrection (first day) and the day of Pentecost (first day). But these were simply anti-typical fulfilments of two Old Testament types: the firstfruit offering and feast of weeks. God gave the spiritual reality that the symbol was pointing to. That those two celebrations happened to be on the first day of the week that year, but this did not thereby sanctify it as a holy day thereafter. Likewise, Christ’s death on Friday (a fulfillment of the Passover feast) did not thereby sanctify Friday as a holy day.

    Also, if you would look at some early church documents (from the dreaded “church fathers”!) you will not see a clear move to replace Sabbath with Sunday until around the third century. The idea that Sunday was instantly the new day for Christians to replace the Sabbath, is just a tradition…but traditions are not easily dispensed with.

  2. in all honesty, I don’t think the day of the week matters as we now worship in spirit and in truth and we are the temple. Colossians 2:16,17 are my proof text!

  3. The law of God was never a shadow or a “carnal” commandment. You are confusing it with the ceremonial laws of the Old Covenant (see Heb. 8:5). There were ceremonial sabbaths associated with the sanctuary service.

    But the Sabbath of the Ten Commandment law was instituted before sin ever entered, and will be kept in the perfect world that Christ re-creates (Is. 66:23). There’s nothing “ceremonial” or “non-spiritual” about meeting with God and hearing His voice speak life…and if He appoints the day, then it does very much matter. The day itself is just a vessel, but God chooses His vessels, and if we discard the vessel, we also discard the treasure.

    (Now it is possible to have the right vessel, but put some other treasure into it that is not from God or His gospel, but this is not my intent.)

    If the Law has been changed, then the definition of sin has changed, for “sin is the transgression of the Law”. And then the gospel would also have changed. But Revelation 14 points to an “everlasting gospel” therefore built on an everlasting law. The Law is the definition of God’s righteousness (as applied to man), and God does not change.

    Ps. 119:142 Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.

    But if we “offend in one point” of the Law, we are “guilty of all” (James 2:10). If one commandment can be set aside, then they all can be. This is the danger of picking and choosing with respect to the Law. God sets it forth (this “whittling away at the law” and setting it at naught) as the reason for the bad condition of our world:

    Isaiah 24:5 – The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.

    We don’t need to repeat the mistakes of the past. But whenever the builders reject a “stone” of truth, it eventually becomes the “chief cornerstone”.
    Ps. 118
    22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
    23 This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.
    24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

    Ps. 119:96 – I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad.
    Ps. 19:7 – The law of the Lord [all of it, not just 9 commandments out of 10!] is perfect, converting the soul.

  4. Exodus 31:13; Ezekiel 20–the sabbath was a sign of the covenant between God and Israel. I’m not Israel.

  5. These texts are easily explained. The nation of Israel was introduced to God’s law. They made a covenant to keep it in Horeb, which they broke shortly after. Then God offered them another covenant, outlined in Deut 29-30:

    Deut 29
    1 These are the words of the covenant, which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb.
    12 That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the Lord thy God, and into his oath, which the Lord thy God maketh with thee this day:
    13 That he may establish thee to day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
    14 Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath;
    15 But with him that standeth here with us this day before the Lord our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day:
    Deut 30
    6 And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
    11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
    12 It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
    13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
    14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
    15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;

    Compare this with various verses in Romans and you will see that the this covenant as nothing less than the gospel. First, the circumcision of the heart is mentioned:

    Romans 2:29 – But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

    And here, the very words from these chapters of Deuteronomy are taken to apply to the gospel:

    Romans 10
    6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
    7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
    8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
    9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

    Now this other covenant was available to Israel in the Old Testament, and some certainly entered into it; those are the ones mentioned in Hebrews 11 as “faithful”, for the “just shall live by faith”. Now notice how this “new” covenant is described, with words taken from Jer. 31:33:

    Heb. 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

    This covenant was to be made with “the house of Israel.” Are you of that house? You have said “no.” But this is the covenant that brings salvation, of which Christ is the priest, and by which we are sanctified:

    Heb 8
    1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;
    2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.
    6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
    7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
    8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

    Notice again, this “new” covenant would be made only with “the house of Israel and the house of Judah”. I ask again, “do you belong to that house?” You have said, “no.” But more! This new covenant provides “eternal redemption”:

    Heb 8
    11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
    12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

    Are you sure this only applies to the literal “house of Israel” from the physical lineage of Abraham? Because I’m sure you are going to claim this covenant as yours, but it is repeated twice now that it is for the “house of Israel.”

    Notice also that this new covenant brings sanctification:

    Heb. 10:29 -…the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified…

    Now we have only to look at those verses you mentioned and ask, which covenant is the Sabbath a sign of, Old or New? It’s not hard to determine, because God specifically says in both cases that they are to keep the Sabbath so that they may know that “I am the Lord who sanctifies you.”

    The Old Covenant only purifies the flesh, by washing of water, and so forth (Heb. 9:13), but the New Covenant purges the conscience from dead works. Notice again Heb. 10:29, “the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified…” Only one covenant truly sanctifies, and that is the New.

    The Sabbath is all about resting from our own works, and listening to the voice of God speak life to His children. Only those whose consciences have been purged from sin can truly keep the Sabbath, for God has given them rest from sin. Therefore there “remains therefore a rest [margin: a sabbath] to the people of God.”

    Is there an “old covenant” way to keep the Sabbath? Certainly…it is done by outwardly ceasing from labor and meeting with others in worship. Sunday may be kept in exactly the same way.

    And is there a “new covenant” way to keep the Sabbath? Of course, for it was established in Eden before sin ever arose. It was also the way Christ kept the Sabbath, for “he did no sin”, so certainly His way of keeping the Sabbath was entirely “new covenant”.

    The gospel (or new covenant) does not change the law. But it changes the hearts of people so that the living Law flows out of them naturally. You understand this, and even preach it, in all other 9 commandments!

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