I grew up in a family where my mother took us all to church on Sunday, and my father went to the office for a few hours.  It seemed odd even then that he needed to or wanted to work on Sunday.  It might surprise some of you to know the most commonly asked question in my mailbag.  It’s about the Sabbath.  People want to know why we set aside Sunday as the Sabbath day instead of the seventh day of the week which is Saturday.  Of course this is an easy one for me, and in my smart alec way, I tell them we have a Saturday night service as well as Sunday so we have all the bases covered.  (It’s 7:00pm and is identical to Sunday morning if anyone is interested.)  That usually doesn’t win me any arguments but at least I get to have some fun with it.  Then I tell them, “look,  it really makes no difference to me since I always work on the Sabbath”.  But then I only have to work an hour a week, right?

It’s actually a very good question, what in heaven’s name are we doing having church on SUNDAY?  The historical explanation is simple.  The disciples began meeting on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7) as it was the day of Christ’s resurrection.  It also became known as the Lord’s Day (Rev 1:10).  But that doesn’t explain what happen to the seventh day, which God in His Ten Commandments declared as holy.  That’s easy some will say, Christ abolished the Law (Eph 2:15). 

So if the Law is ‘history’, so to speak, then we no longer need to worry about honoring our parents, stealing, murdering or adultery either.  Party on dude!  Not so fast, Jesus gave us the new commandment to love your neighbour which essentially covers the not killing them thing, and stealing from them, or lying to them etc.  The Sabbath is a stickier issue, and what we really need to do is remember what the purpose for it was in the first place.   When it comes to the Sabbath, Jesus was a trouble maker!  He repeatedly healed the sick on the Sabbath.  The Pharisees where so offended by it that they missed entirely the fact that Jesus was literally transforming the quality of life of some really sick people. 

For me the key to the whole thing is found in Mark 2.  Jesus disciples, also trouble makers, were picking grain to eat in the fields on… you guessed it; on Saturday.  Jesus responded to His critics by saying, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath Mark 2:27 

Most tall buildings in Jerusalem today have Sabbath elevators.  They stop at every floor going up and down because an Orthodox Jew will not even push an elevator button on the Sabbath.  I always wonder how we justify the poor slob that has to work on the Sabbath to keep to hydro running so that I can have an effort free ride up to my penthouse.  Glaring hypocrisy is not hard to find in Israel, or in the church today.  This kind of legalistic adherence to the Sabbath day has been going on since before Jesus day (Although I am pretty sure they had no elevators). 

The main purpose of the Sabbath was to give man a break from his labours.  A time to recharge his spirit and to worship God.  The essence of that has never changed.  The New  Testament puts it this way.  One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.  He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it.  Rom 14:5&6  

The way I read it, the actual day doesn’t matter so much as the spirit of the Sabbath which is to cease from ‘business as usual’ and focus on our Creator.  In our culture, the days of the week are increasingly all starting to look the same.  The malls are open, people are at work, kids’ sports are in full swing and many churches are sadly empty.   We may have successfully extricated ourselves from the letter of the Law, but I fear we have forgotten the spirit of it as well. 

So the question is, will we see you in church on Sunday…or Saturday?

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  1. Karen says:

    I love this one!Just this past saturday as we told my mother in law(who is an old time mennonite,legalistic..etc sorta women)that we were going to the saturday night church service she just could NOT understand how we could do that.NOT go on sunday morning?How aweful!!!!Going sat. just doesnt count to God(in her books)I just have to laugh.
    Keep this great posts coming Pastor Mark,I enjoy all you have to say!

  2. Sandi says:

    Great message…the Jewish Sabbath elevator is priceless…I’m imagining all of the type “A” people having to be patient enough to wait as it opens up on every single floor. Amazing.

  3. Kathleen says:

    Great stuph here, Mark *as usual :`)*

    Wonderin’ if there will be rss for these blog posts and all content on the church website?


  4. Kathleen says:

    ps: off topic: will Wally Wildman’s recent message be made available in video/broadcast? I was unable to attend when they were in town. :“(

  5. Mark Hughes says:

    Pastor Wally’s message is available from our media centre in CD only. Wally has a great face for radio LOL. Everybody really enjoyed his message.

  6. You can get to the RSS feed of the blog here: (maybe I should make a button for that link on the front page, right now you can only get to it from within a post.

    I’ll have to do some research about getting church website content since it’s done in flash, but it may be possible.

    Thanks for the idea,
    Tim (IT guy)

  7. Karen says:

    Our girls asked the question when they were much younger; “Are we bad Christians if we shop on Sunday?” Their perspective was that because we are shopping, that means someone else can’t go to church and hear the Word of God. I thought that was very insightful for children aged 5 and 6! After that thought provoking revelation from them, we have tried very hard not to do any business on Sunday. We aren’t perfect all the time.
    Their question also reminded me that people are watching what Christians do and say, and what am I saying if I don’t keep the Sabbath holy? I need to set a good example for my children, and the most important example is teaching them about honoring God everyday…including Sundays.

  8. Colleen says:

    Well written! Thanks. .. . I’ve always wondered about that.

  9. Gord says:

    Well no, you won’t see me in church on Sunday. Only reason is I live in Vancouver. I will be eagerly watching though, it’ll be nice to see a fresher sermon. I’m blessed with a poor memory though, I don’t usually remember the sermon until about half way through it. Either way, always enjoyable and thought provoking. You’re all doing a wonderful job at Church of the Rock. Maybe I’ll retire and move to Winnipeg, a move that most would think is counter intuitive. But at least I could get to church on Sundays.

  10. Ian says:

    One thing I would like to know more about is where Jesus talked about pulling a donkey out of the well on a Saboth.

    I’m not a farmer but I have often said that if I was I would combine on a Sunday if the weather was nice. God has given us the nice weather and the nice crop and to let it get covered by snow would be very wasteful. That is not to say that I would work summer fallow on a Sunday.

    Pastor Mark could you please comment on my comment so I can see you take on this.

  11. Mark Hughes says:

    I was a farmer and I did combine on Sunday if the weather was good. I had a Mennonite neighbour who always said to me, “Mark, what you gain on Sunday you will lose on Monday”. I appreciated his faithful adherence to a day of rest but I liked to rest when it was raining. Sometimes it was a whole week of rest!

  12. Sophie G says:

    Hi Mark,

    Great sermons as usual…keep them coming.
    I just have to bring up something you said in the first paragraph….

    “what in heaven’s name are we doing having church on SUNDAY? The historical explanation is simple. The disciples began meeting on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7)…”

    While you did quote scripture here (and in the following paragraphs) to explain the history of, and to justify Sunday Sabbath keeping, you left out one main historical reason. It is my understanding that Constantine had something to do with it by making Sunday the official day of rest.

    It is doubtful that the Sabbath law and the ten commandments have been done away with. In regards to end times, Revelations speaks of those who “keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus”. The number 7 is also very significant throughout. Another end time verse :Matt 24:20- Pray that your flight may not be in winter, nor on the Sabbath.

    • Jim says:

      Paul said “do we make void the law so grace abounds? God forbid we establish the law” Romans 3….the ten Commandments are cast in stone there Mark so no matter how much you try to weasel out of them, they will always be there…good luck at salvation!

      • Jeff says:

        Jim…one last time for you…salvation does not come from works of the flesh or adherance to the law. Salvation ONLY comes from accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord & Savior.

  13. Mark Hughes says:

    Constantine did not change the Sabbath day. Sunday was already the established day of worship. He merely decreed it as a closure day.
    “On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed.” (Constantine, March 7, 321. Codex Justinianus lib. 3, tit. 12, 3; trans. in Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 3, p. 380, note 1)
    I am surprised at how many Christians do not understand that we are no longer under the Law, which includes the 10 commandments. We live by grace not by law. This is not to say that the 10 commandments are not the standard of righteousness, because they are. But we live under a higher law, the law of grace. It is spelled out in the great commandment, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. Matt 22: 37-40
    Those are the only two commandments we need to keep because within them you will honor the SPIRIT of the 10 commandments. You won’t kill your neighbour if you love him as yourself. You won’t lie to him if you love him as yourself… You get the idea.
    Whenever the Christian church has fallen back into keeping the 10 commandments the Old Testament way, legalism and bondage creeps right back in.
    “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” Gal 3:1-3

  14. Evelyn Bennett says:

    Since I have deepened my relationship with God I have tried so hard to try and keep one day for the Sabbath. Be it Saturday or Sunday, no pun intended Pastor Mark. Because of this busy chaotic world we live in it is quite difficult just to focus on God for just one day.

    How do we separate our busy schedules from meditating and celebrating God and all He has done for us?

    It all depends on you and me and how much we are willing to sacrifice.
    It may not have to be as big as Jesus dying on the cross for our sins.

    It is worth giving it a try just for the Lord’s sake. Don’t you think?


  15. Tamara says:

    I often wonder what exactly God intended when He said, Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. I`d never thought about it before, but it does seem like the only one of the commandments that we now generally feel to be dispensible. It`s got to be about more than going to church and not mowing the lawn. God stopped creating after the sixth day, but He did not then simply decide to go off and have a seventh day slumber… kick back, veg out and do nothing for the next 24 hours. He was still living and active. For me, taking a day of rest, (and who are we kidding… with 3 kids, there`s no day off), is not about not doing work, but it is rather a very real, deliberate setting aside of a day… a tithe of my time… as a reminder to myself that I am NOT the one holding everything together. If God can stop, then I can for sure stop. It is an acknowledgment in myself that God is God, and that my little world will be just FINE if I DON`T do whatever that thing is that I feel I need to be doing, and I just stop thinking about my own very real obligations, responsibilities, functions… and instead focus on taking Life in… counting my multitude blessings, stopping to smell the roses, embracing freedom, really noticing God and the things He`s doing in my life and all around me… every brush and tree afire with God (or something like that), His absolute brilliance and His new every morning mercies. Take a step back from the canvas and just take a good long look, and try to regain God`s perspective on things. I really think it`s supposed to be a day of freedom, meant to draw us into deeper relationship with God, not a day of bondage. I really can`t imagine that the great God of the universe cares whether or not I do the dishes on Sunday! (Of course, I`m very open to hearing that He does… I`d happily submit to that).

  16. Mulinde says:

    I grew up in a family were half my relatives went to church on Saturday and the others went to church on Sunday and the issue of which day is the right or correct day for worship has always been a highly-debated topic in my family.
    One of the main arguments for Saturday (sabbath) worship was that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. In Genesis 2:2-3, God ended His work and rested on the Seventh day. Not because He was tired (Isaiah 40:28), but to set this special day apart for man. Verse 3 says He blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it. To “sanctify” something means to set it apart for a holy use. So, by going to church or worshiping on Sunday, is man doing away with or changing something God has made holy?

  17. Sophie G says:

    Hi Mark,

    Thank you for your thorough response. I grew up in the WorldWide Church of God which at the time promoted Saturday Sabbath keeping. It is a very confusing issue for me as you can imagine.

  18. Isaac says:

    I’ve been making a point of taking Sunday as a Sabbath day, and I always benefit from it. I only picked Sunday because it works conveniently. I usually try to have my meals made ahead of time, but can’t always manage that. I always feel more productive in the other six days when I do have a restful day especially focussed on the Lord.

    God bless ya’ll.

  19. Isaac says:

    Oh yeah, and one thing that I find very interesting, in the passion week Christ took a day off. He couldn’t take Saturday off cuz He was gonna be dead, so I think He took Wednesday (correct me if I’m wrong). So if Christ can take a day off in the most important week of mankind, I think I can take a day off in my week!

  20. David John says:

    The way I see it is that the Father was just saying to us that we should at least give him one day out of our busy week.The Father understands the various farming or any other work related events that we have to juggle,his point is that we keep a special day in our hearts for him. All the Glory be unto him everyday of our week. As Pastor has stated if we comply to the first two commandments we cover all of them.

  21. Rob says:

    I thought that keeping the Sabbath holy had to do with what Jesus was doing. Helping those who were in need the most. In other words, not business as usual but God’s work.

  22. Jake says:

    If I am not mistaken, when Jesus stated the 10 commandments in the New Testament he did not recite that one. I appreciate your response.

  23. sara obas says:

    I’m a seventh day adventist and i always watch church of the rock and i always agree with you pastor mark but not on this one by choosing to go to church on saturday instead of sunday our church has decided to fervently obey, respect and honour God’s commandements. Yes Jesus performed a lot of miracles on the sabbath but his point was to show us that we should do good everyday not that he doesn’t care about the sabbath! Yes you could say that God won’t really mind if you keep your sunday for Him instead of saturday but He wants us to worship Him in spirit and in TRUTH. The truth is sabbath is saturday and we should always follow God’s commandement not the traditions of men. And a study proved that you’ll live longer if you take a weekly vacation of all our worries and problems just to be happy and carefree

    • Elena says:

      Romans 14:5-6 reminds us not to pass judgment to others as we are all sinners. Ephesians 2:15 (Aramaic English Translation) says: “And in his flesh the enmity and regulations of commands contained in his commandments are abolished”. This grammatical structure that it is referring to customs and traditions of the pharisees mot Torah itself. Jesus abolishes the enmity (hatred and animosity) that has been brought against YHWH by religious traditions and false interpretations of Torah, which is a heavy burden that people could not bear. This verse has been twisted to make it appear that it was YHWH Torah that brought the hatred and that Jesus did away with Torah, which is a very reckless thoelogy. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to write YHWH’s Torah to the hearts of his people, not abolish it. Jesus fulfilled the law, and fulfill does not mean abolish. Exodus 20: 8:11 God was so specific on the remembrance of the Sabbath day which is the seventh day of the week. Paul met with Christians on the first day of the week, so? does it imply that the sabbath is already done away with? No. Early apostles of Jesus, including Paul, observed the Sabbath by going to synagogues and preaching. It was Constantine who changed the day and not Jesus or any of the Apostles. His statement “On the venerable day of the Sun…??” Is this for “SUN GOD” worship then? Should we follow the commands of men and forsake God’s commands? Please read also: Mark 7:8. John 5:19-20. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. I can’t remember anymore where I read this in the Bible but it says: Jesus replied” If you love me, follow my commandments, follow the words of the One who sent me” At the time of Jesus, they don’t have the same Bible as we have now, but they have the Torah..which means that every time Jesus and the Apostle’s mention the commandments and the scriptures, they all refer to the Torah and the prophets.

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