The True “Merit” of Sunday-keeping
Mr. Gamble plainly confesses in print that “Christ and the Jews were agreed as to the day of the week of the Sabbath;” and that “Christ kept the Jewish Sabbath, and all his followers did the same, until his resurrection.”
Very good. And the word of God says that the Sabbath which his followers kept the very day before his resurrection was “the Sabbath day according to the commandment.” Luke 23:55, 56.
And Jesus, the last night before his death, said to his disciples, “I have kept my Father’s commandments.” John 15:10.
It is therefore perfectly certain by the word of God that the Sabbath which Christ and his followers kept until his resurrection, was the Sabbath day according to the commandment of God as to the Sabbath.
This keeping of the commandment of God, this keeping of the Sabbath according to that commandment, by Jesus, was Christ’s obedience in man’s behalf, by which obedience alone can any man ever find righteousness in Sabbath-keeping.
No man can ever be counted righteous in anything, by his own obedience. Righteousness comes to men in everything only by the obedience of Jesus Christ. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of ONE shall many be made righteous.” Rom. 5:18. And that One Jesus Christ alone.
Now, as it is only the obedience of Christ that can ever make anybody righteous in anything, it is certain that it is only the obedience of Christ that can ever make anybody righteous in Sabbath-keeping. And as all Christ’s obedience in Sabbath-keeping was in the keeping of the seventh-day,—the Sabbath according to the commandment,—it follows, in the very certainty of the word of God, that the only Sabbath-keeping in which the obedience of Christ can ever make a man righteous is in the keeping of the Sabbath on the seventh day, the Sabbath day according to the commandment.
Even though it were true that Mr. Gamble’s “great discovery” of an annually shifting Sabbath through all the days of the week was the true Sabbath; and even though it were true, as he claims, that it was such a sabbath that Christ kept, then that, being the obedience of Christ in Sabbath-keeping, would be the only Sabbath-keeping in which Christ’s obedience could ever make any man righteous.
So, even though his claim of an annually shifting sabbath through all the days of the week were the truth, even that would exclude all hope of any obedience but self-obedience, all hope of any righteousness but self-righteousness, in the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week—or whatever he may claim as to the day now to be observed. For Christ never observed, in his life as a man in man’s behalf, the kind of sabbath that Mr. Gamble has discovered. Mr. Gamble himself says that he never did. He says:—
Christ kept the Jewish sabbath, and all his followers did the same, until his resurrection; and since the resurrection they have kept the Christian, or creation, sabbath.
Christ stopped the constant change of the day. The sabbath day had changed once a year for over fifteen hundred years, and Christ made the sabbath a fixed day,—Sunday,—instead of certain fixed dates.
But as this was not till after his resurrection, Christ never kept this day at all in his life as a man in man’s behalf. And as in his life of obedience in man’s behalf, there was never any obedience of his in keeping this Sunday sabbath, so there is no obedience of Christ to make any man righteous in the keeping of the Sunday sabbath.
In Christ’s life of obedience as a man in man’s behalf, it was impossible that there could be any keeping of the Sunday sabbath; for there was no commandment for it. Where there is no commandment, there can be no obedience. It is admitted by all, Mr. Gamble with the rest, that during his whole life as a man on the earth in man’s behalf, he observed, not the Sunday sabbath, but the other. And that other was “the Sabbath day according to the commandment.”
This being certainly so by the word of God, it is also certainly so that the only obedience of Christ that was ever rendered in sabbath-keeping was in the keeping of the seventh day.
This being certainly so, and it being also certainly so that in all his life on earth as a man in man’s behalf, he never did keep the Sunday sabbath, it is just as certainly so that there is no obedience of Christ to make any soul righteous in the keeping of the Sunday sabbath.
And there being no obedience of Christ to make any soul righteous in the keeping of the Sunday sabbath, the only obedience that there can possibly be to make any man righteous in the keeping of the Sunday sabbath is his own obedience. But all of any man’s own obedience is self-obedience, and is sin. All the righteousness that any man can have by his own obedience is self-righteousness; and all self-righteousness is sin. Thus the keeping of the Sunday sabbath is sin, and only sin. It is all of self, and none of Christ. It is all of self-obedience, and none of Christ’s obedience. It is all of self-righteousness, and none of the righteousness of Christ. It is all of works, and none of faith.
Again: in all Christ’s life on earth as a man in man’s behalf there is no word of God for the observance of the Sunday sabbath; and there is no word of God for it yet.
Now the word of God is the only means of faith. Rom. 10:17. Where there is no word of God there can not be any faith. There being no word of God for keeping the Sunday sabbath, and Christ having never kept it in his life for man, it is impossible that the keeping of it can be of faith. but “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Rom. 14:23. Therefore it is as plain as A B C, and by the word of God too, that the keeping of the Sunday sabbath is sin.
Not so with the keeping of the seventh-day Sabbath, the Sabbath of the Lord. There is abundance of the word of God for that; and there is for it the obedience of the whole life of Jesus Christ on earth as a man in man’s behalf. There is for it the perfect commandment of God, and the perfect obedience of the Lord Jesus to that perfect commandment. Therefore the observance of the Seventh-day Sabbath, the Sabbath of the Lord, is altogether of faith. And the righteousness of it is altogether the righteousness of God: “even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ,” by whose obedience and faith alone can any soul ever be made righteous.
And thus “here are they which keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”
— A.T. Jones, Review and Herald, February 14, 1899
Related: Lessons on Faith