Mormon Q&A: Saturday or Sunday? Which Day to Worship
The other day, I received a nice comment on Facebook inquiring about my personal beliefs toward Saturday worship instead of the traditional Christian Sunday worship. Luckily, I’ve done a bit of studying on the subject, and I wanted to share some of my findings from the scriptures. I was asked by this kind individual to look into the paganistic worship of the sun for an explanation of why Christianity made the change from Saturday to Sunday. Rather than go into things that I know nothing about, I directed my study toward something that I do know a little about…the words of the prophets and the apostles found in the Holy Scriptures.
First, let it be clear. I don’t write this to be antagonistic, but simply to share information I’ve found in my personal studies on this topic. I don’t like to pick fights, nor will I be party to one. If you’re looking for an argument, you’re probably better off going elsewhere.
With that said, let’s begin…
And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. (Genesis 2:2-3.)
Everyone knows the creation story. I think this is a great place to begin. This is the first mention of God’s day off. The seventh day of the week, Saturday to us, was later observed by the Israelites with strict rules of obedience. The covenant of keeping the Sabbath day holy was made on Mount Sinai. Let’s look at the original text from the commandment given along with the rest of the Law of Moses:
The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.
The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day. . . .
Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.
Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.
And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:2-3, 12-15.)
As we see in verse 2, this covenant had never been made with their fathers. This was a new covenant to the Children of Israel. It was a way that the Lord helped them remember who it was that had helped them get where they were. It was intended for a day of rest, and a day to be used exclusively for improving one’s relationship with God.
As we discuss the Law of Moses, I think it’s important to understand it’s purpose. We know that many of the commandments given to the Children of Israel no longer apply to Christians today. We don’t stone adulterers, we don’t send people out of our cities for being deemed “unclean”, we don’t perform animal sacrifices, we don’t restrict the types of meat people are allowed to eat, and we no longer observe the holidays and jubilees the Lord required in the Old Testament law. Inside the Law of Moses, we see a commandment to not only observe the Sabbath day, but also to observe the sabbatical years, and the forty-ninth and fiftieth year Sabbaths, however, I have yet to see any Christian church teaching their people to refrain from planting crops for a whole year. That’s because the Law of Moses was fulfilled, and such things are no longer required of us.
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24)
The Law of Moses was a school that was preparing a people for Christ. Christ himself said:
¶ Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (Mathew 5:17-18)
Christ was getting the people ready for change. Not to destroy the principles and teachings and lessons learned through the Law of Moses, but to fulfill it. No longer would there be an animal sacrifice required, but the greatest sacrifice of all time would become the focal point of faith and hope. He was getting us ready for a higher law.
Hosea, an Old Testament prophet, prophesies, “I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her Sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.” (Hosea 2:11) The early Christian converts saw the signs that change was coming in Sabbath day observance.
While I will concede that the New Testament doesn’t come out and say directly, “Thou shalt change your days of worship to Sunday,” the scriptures are clear that Sabbath day observance for Christians changed to the first day of the week.
Knowing that all things point us to Christ, that Christ came to fulfill the old law, and how Christ, “the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28)“, it’s no wonder the day of his resurrection became known as “The Lord’s Day.” John, the Revelator, felt it was such a significant day that he included in his writings, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet. (Revelation 1:10)“
Let’s look at other occurences in the New Testament, where the Lord’s Day, Sunday, the first day of the week, was special, and used for worship and meetings.
Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. (John 20:19, 26.)
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. (Acts 20:7.)
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. (1 Corinthians 16:1-2.)
The Day of Pentecost, which occurred the day after the Jewish Sabbath, provides us with some amazing things that happened during their meeting on the first day of the week:
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4)
These early apostles began observing a “new Sabbath”. The only time that I am aware that we see them doing anything on the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday), is when they are going into the Jewish Synagogues to teach the gospel. That was the day they knew for sure that people would be gathered there who might want to hear their missionary message about Christ. (See Acts 13:13-44 and Acts 17:1-2)
There are TONS of references to the first day of the week throughout the New Testament. Check these out:
And very early in the morning the first day of the week. . . (Mark 16:2)
Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week. . . (Mark 16:9)
Now upon the first day of the week. . . (Luke 24:1)
The first day of the week. . . (John 20:1)
Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week. . .. (John 20:19)
And upon the first day of the week. . . .(Acts 20:7)
The first day of the week was so significant to the New Testament writers, they mentioned it every chance they got. They included what day these meetings and miracles and worship services were held on completely on purpose. There was a pattern that was established of Sunday worship, and the New Testament proves that over and over again.
I think that it’s important to note that the purpose and spirit of setting aside one day and dedicate it to God is still very much valid today. In my family, we do our best to avoid working on Sunday. We also avoid shopping or going out to eat on Sunday, since that requires other people to work on our behalf. We truly believe that it ought to be the Lord’s day, set aside for Him.
Of all the amazing things that happened during Christ’s establishment of a new church in His day, there was a pattern established that a new Sabbath began in remembrance of the greatest miracle ever…the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ conquered death! What glorious news! What a wonderful reason to celebrate and worship our God in Heaven! How appropriate it is that we partake of the sacrament of the Holy Supper on His day, the Lord’s Day, to remember what was sacrificed that we may all conquer death and sin.
If you have doubts, read the scriptures I’ve quoted here for yourself, then I suggest you go to God in prayer and ask Him. You really don’t have to take my word for it. God’s is always there to listen and answer us. He loves you and wants to bless our lives in ways we can’t even imagine.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. (James 1:5-6)
Your Friendly Mormon Neighbor,
A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, LeGrand Richards, pp 331-339, 1950.