My thanks to Allan Peterson for his kind remarks about my letter to the editor entitled, 'The anvil remains.'
While I found his letter very interesting in some regards, and even agree with him on some important things, such as the lasting vitality and truth of the Holy Bible, I decidedly disagree with his conclusions, for they lead him into a fundamental error that was rejected not only by Christ and the Apostles, but by all Bible-believing Christian churches down to our day.
His chief error lies in his commitment to wrong principles of biblical interpretation that lead him to misunderstand and misapply the scriptures. The array of Bible passages marshaled by him is impressive, but in every case he misapplies them because the foundation upon which he interprets them is in itself unsound and unscriptural. He fails to follow the Bible itself in its clear demand to make proper distinctions among its parts (2 Tim. 2:15-16), and so his conclusion, that Christians who do not observe the seventh-day sabbath "will not be saved," is patently false (non-biblical).
One crucial error made by my critic is that he confuses law and gospel. He would bind the conscience of the Christian saved by grace to the demands of the Mosaic Law (read all of Galatians). The law tells me what I am to do and not to do in order to be saved; the gospel tells me what God has done in providing a righteous resolution of the law's demand for complete satisfaction. Jesus Christ, our sinless substitute under the law fulfilled the law perfectly for us. Salvation comes not by observing the terms of the Mosaic Law, but by grace through faith in Christ Jesus.
My critic's confusion of law and gospel leads him to confuse Israel and the Church. He is operating with the unspoken assumption that "the Church is Israel now," a prevalent heresy known as "Replacement Theology." Adherents of this unbiblical teaching claim all of God's blessings on Abraham and the Jewish people, and leave for them only the curses. The Bible makes a proper distinction between Israel and the Church, and shows us how God deals with each.
The writer's confusion of Israel and the Church leads him to confuse the Jewish Sabbath with the Christian Lord's Day. These two days have nothing whatsoever in common. In fact, they belong to two separate dispensations of God's prophetic word.
The Christian Church, which began on Pentecost, never observed a "Christian Sabbath." While many believe that the Jewish Sabbath will be reinstituted during the great tribulation following the rapture of the church, and will be perfected after the seven-year tribulation during the millennial reign of Christ from the throne of David in Jerusalem, it is only the Sunday "Lord's Day" that God has appointed for the present dispensation (age) of grace.
This sketch of an answer to those who would condemn the churches of Jesus Christ for not worshiping on Saturday will surely not satisfy my critic. This controversy about the sabbath was settled definitively by St. Paul in the first century.
The word "sabbath" appears only once in his epistles: "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or of respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ" (Colossians 2:16-17).
I commend my critic to the writings of St Paul. I pray that there he will find light. It is also my fond hope that the faithful will be reassured that they are not going to hades for worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ on Sunday. After all, it is the Lord's Day.
Pastor Michael J. Langlais