Question: Someone asked, "Is it God’s commandment that we observe Sunday?" I cannot answer from the Bible. Please instruct me. (Yang, Anhwei)
Answer: Indeed, you cannot use the Bible to answer him. I am afraid that no honest Bible expositor can answer him either! I cannot find any commandment in the Bible that says we should "observe" Sunday! Please do not misunderstand by thinking that we should observe Saturday; there is no such thing either. I have not found any passage in the Bible that says that Christians should observe Saturday! What does this mean? The Sabbath day (that is, Saturday) belongs to the law. But we, the Gentiles, are not under the law. (1) Before we believed in the Lord, we were "Gentiles, who have no law" (Rom. 2:14). (2) After we believed in the Lord, the apostle said that "you are not under the law" (6:14). However, "whatever things the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law" (3:19). If those brothers who insist that we observe the Sabbath cannot prove to us that the Sabbath is not of the law, they cannot ask us to keep it. The more they say that the Sabbath is important for the reason that it is a crucial commandment of the law, the more it means that we should not keep it! But there are those who commit the same mistake as the zealous Sabbath-keepers; they are the Sunday-observers (actually the Lord’s Day-observers). (1) They think that because the apostles met on this day, we should therefore "observe" this day. But, why did the apostles only gather on this day, whereas these ones would change it to mean they have to observe this day? (2) They think that after the Lord Jesus died, under the New Testament, the Sabbath is changed from Saturday to Sunday. But where does the Bible say this? (3) They think that the Lord’s Day is the "Christian Sabbath." In many denominations the Ten Commandments are still held high, and the members are exhorted to keep the Sabbath faithfully. However, the Sabbath is clearly the seventh day, which is today’s Saturday. How can they swap things around and make the first day of the week (that is, our Sunday) the Sabbath day? It is no wonder that when we make the truth clear to those who are zealous for Saturday, their denominations lose many members. We do not have to go into detail on this. All the arguments by these denominations of making Sunday the Sabbath Day have been totally refuted by the Seventh Day Adventists already. According to our study of the Bible, the Sabbath-keepers are wrong, and the Sunday-observers are also wrong. Both are wrong. The Sabbath-keepers lead Christians to a position that is fully under the law, while the Sunday-observers are leading Christians to a position that is a mixture of law and grace. Of the two, the latter is more dangerous. It is very clear to everyone that the Bible has not commanded the New Testament believers to keep the Sabbath. But where in the Bible are Christians asked to keep the Lord’s Day? We have to say that there is not one verse in the Bible which says this. Before going on, let me first explain the meaning of the expression "observing Sunday." To observe Sunday is to stop working or doing any business on Sunday. On this day the shopkeepers should close their shops to observe the day. But may I ask those in the denominations, "Why do you observe Sunday this way? Why should believers not buy and sell on Sunday, and why should they not do what they do on the other weekdays?" These ones would unanimously answer, "Does not the fourth commandment tell us that we should rest on this day?" Brothers, consider what a confusion this is! If you ask these ones further which day does the fourth commandment refer to, they have to say that it refers to the Sabbath day. But which day is the Sabbath day? It is Saturday. Which day are they observing? They are observing Sunday. Please note that the regulation of the fourth commandment is with regard to Saturday. But what people are observing today is Sunday. What is the reason for basing one’s observance of Sunday on a regulation that governs Saturday? Why change from Saturday to Sunday, while keeping the regulations governing Saturday? The Sunday observers cannot answer these questions. They realize that in the age of grace there is no more need to keep the Sabbath. But while they observe the Lord’s Day, they are still being bound by the Sabbath regulations. What advantage is there to change the seventh day to the first day? This kind of behavior is mindless, meaningless, illogical, contrary to grace, contrary to the law, and unscriptural. What is the scriptural teaching concerning the keeping of days? The Bible has not commanded Christians to "observe" any day. No, absolutely none. According to the example and teaching of the Bible, on the Lord’s Day (i.e., Sunday), Christians should (1) rejoice and be glad (Psa. 118:24), (2) meet and break bread (Acts 20:7), and (3) make offerings (1 Cor. 16:2). These are the things that Christians should do. This day is the "Lord’s Day" (Rev. 1:10). Hence, we should act according to the Lord’s will. As to what should not be done, the Bible does not have a single word concerning it. Many of the present day regulations are human traditions. If one should not buy and sell on the Lord’s Day, he should not do the same on all the other days as well. It is because men do not understand that the gospel teaches men to do everything in their daily lives for God that there are such errors. The conclusion is that Christians should not observe the Sabbath, and they should not observe Sunday. However, on the Lord’s Day (i.e., Sunday), they should rejoice and be glad, meet and break bread, and make offerings. This question has bewildered many and has caused loss to the poor believers who would otherwise work on the Lord’s Day, but who refrain from working under the fear that they would offend the Lord. For this reason, I have said a little more on the subject. The consciences of many people are made weak through human traditions.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 07: The Christian (5), Chapter 19, by Watchman Nee)