Chapter 1

But Does It Make Any Difference?

From the book Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath?
By Herbert W. Armstrong

Certainly most professing Christians accept Sunday as the New Testament Lord’s day. Muslims observe Friday. Some religions observe no day. But there are those who insist the seventh-day Sabbath is still binding. Failure to keep it, they claim, is sin—and the punishment is death for eternity!

Now that is a pretty serious claim!

Few take it seriously—but that does not disprove or dismiss the challenge. Have YOU ever seriously looked into this question?

If someone tells me my house is on fire, I’m not going to laugh at him and refuse to take it seriously. I’m going to examine, and be sure! If he’s wrong, then at least I shall KNOW my house is safe. I learned years ago that it can be very dangerous to carelessly assume, or just take for granted. It’s much wiser and safer to get all the FACTS, and then decide.

And one’s life for eternity is much more precious than his house.

Few realize, today, but the Sabbath vs. Sunday controversy raged during the first three centuries of the Christian era. Violence and bloodshed mounted. Millions were tortured and put to death over this question.

Who is right?

And, after all, does it make any difference?

Changing Times

Years ago I had to face this question. My wife said she had found, in the Bible, that Christians are bound to keep the Sabbath—Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. I was shocked, angered. To me this was rank fanaticism. I had arguments—plenty of them!

“You can’t tell me that all these churches could be wrong!” I said in confident indignation.

I was challenged to look into this question—to get all the facts! I was angered into serious research. I could not ignore the question. I had this question to live with! It had invaded my home!

Immediately when this question is raised, numerous other questions flash to mind.

Don’t we have to adjust our religion to the changing times? After all, wasn’t the Bible completely written some 1,900 years ago? We live in a different world today! That’s one argument. Yet, are we free to reason out our own religion? Are we going to render the decisions on our own fates, in the final judgment? Perhaps we’d better get the truth!

Some will ask, “How can this world, as it is now organized, keep the seventh-day Sabbath? The world is geared to Sunday.”

Or, “Suppose you’re traveling on an ocean liner. Would you expect them to stop the engines and cease steaming forward at sunset Friday?”

“What about public utilities in the big cities? Electricity, water, gas. Must the police departments shut down and let criminals have a holiday?”

“Suppose the nation is at war. Should our forces stop fighting at sunset on Friday? The enemy might not see it that way!”

“But hasn’t time been lost? How can we know whether the Saturday of today is the same day of the week as it was at creation—or in Moses’ day? Hasn’t the weekly cycle gotten mixed up since creation?” That question, too, will be answered with the proof in this booklet.

“Anyway,” one may reason in conclusion, “what possible difference can it make WHICH day, or WHETHER we observe it?”

These questions—and more—must be answered! And will be, in this booklet.

First of all, in a world where established, organized Christianity observes Sunday, where perhaps most people do not seriously observe any day as really sacred, how can we KNOW?

Is there any supreme authority, with the power of life and death over our eternity, with power to declare, and enforce the right answer?

By what AUTHORITY do Christians observe Sunday; Muslims, Friday; Sabbatarians, Saturday; and others, no day?

Is there any authority for observing Friday, or Sunday, or Saturday? It certainly is apparent all do not recognize the same authority.

IF There Is NO GOD!

Let me say candidly right here, that if there is no God—if I were to leave God out of the picture—then I could not see how it could possibly make any difference!

There is no way I can imagine how a man could reason out in his own mind, apart from any Supreme Authority, WHY it could make any difference which day—or whether we observe it.

But the Almighty Creator God does exist! His existence is easily proved. God is emphatically IN the picture, whether a man recognizes that fact or not! That great God has set in living, inexorable motion invisible laws respecting this very question. That God and those laws EXIST—they LIVE—they are ACTIVE! And their existence, and their action, do not depend on one man—or all mankind—realizing their existence.

The Almighty God holds the keys of life and death! By Him your fate is being determined! For all eternity! And that is the reason why it does make all the difference—for your well-being now, and for your eternity!

So first of all, we must settle once and for all, what, or who, is the Supreme Authority before whom we shall stand in judgment. Does such authority explain why it makes a difference—and what are the consequences for disobedience or neglect?

Did you realize that there is one religious body which lays claim to being the sole infallible authority? It claims the Bible “is not a sufficient guide to heaven.” It claims, through its own church leaders, that it, by its own infallible authority, substituted Sunday for the Sabbath.

This religious body offers the very fact that all Sunday-keeping people—which includes the Western world as a whole—have bowed down to its dictum on Sunday observance as proof of its absolute authority.

Some time ago one ecclesiastical authority stated that you may search the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you cannot find one line or verse authorizing Sunday observance—that the Bible enforces the keeping holy of the seventh-day Sabbath—and that the sole authority for Sunday observance is based on edicts of men.

The claim is that a succession of human ecclesiastical leaders has replaced the authority of Jesus Christ. This may surprise many religious people.

It is claimed that Christ turned headship of the Church over to Peter and his successors. In plain language, that Christ “bowed out,” as it were—that men rule in place of Christ, as head of the Church.

But many churchgoing people do not accept this idea of infallibility.

What, then, is the truth?

Have you ever stopped to really prove whether God exists? Can you actually prove, by irrefutable and positive proof, that God is Creator—that He rules as the supreme and infallible authority over all His creation—over all the universe?

Yes, you can prove that—unless you are unwilling to accept truth! We offer you that proof in the free booklet Does GOD Exist?

Can you prove, also, that the Holy Bible is the very authoritative Word of God—His inspired message and instruction book to mankind—the sole infallible authority, by which humanity shall be judged?

Yes, you can prove that, also, unless you refuse to accept truth!

Jesus Christ is the Founder of the true New Testament Church of God.

WHEN Did Christ Build the Church?

But when did Christ actually found, or start, God’s Church—while still a mortal human, or after His resurrection and ascension to heaven?

He merely taught His message—His gospel—to His disciples during His mortal human lifetime! But the Church of God was founded—was started—on the day of Pentecost, a.d. 31, AFTER Christ had been resurrected, glorified, and ascended to the throne of God in heaven.

Now when is Christ supposed to have “bowed out,” as Head of the Church, turning headship of the Church over to men? Not after the Church was founded and in being—but before there was any Church to turn over!

Why then do church leaders reject the authority of the Scriptures—yet attempt to establish their authority on the authority they reject and deny—by quoting Matthew 16:18?

Jesus had just asked His disciples whom they believed He, the Son of man, really was. And Peter had answered that He was the Christ—or prophesied Messiah—the Son of the living God. Jesus had answered that no man had revealed it to him, but it had been revealed by His Father in heaven.

Then Jesus added: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter” (Greek inspired original word, Petros, meaning a stone), “and upon this rock” (Greek inspired original word, petra, meaning a ledge or shelf of rock or a crag) “I will build my church …” (Matthew 16:18).

Now, since it is claimed that the rock on which the Church was founded refers to Peter—and not Christ—notice the true meaning, as originally written by Matthew. Matthew wrote in the Greek language. There was no English language then. The English versions of today are translations from the original Greek language.

Peter was also called Cephas (Greek Képhas, from the Aramaic Kêpha). In John 1:40-42 is related how Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, found Peter, and brought him to Jesus. “And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, a stone” (verse 42). The English word stone is translated from the Greek word petros, meaning a single stone or loose stone. Also the Greek word Kephas means such a stone, referring definitely to a human man.

But when Jesus said “upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18), the Greek word, as written originally by Matthew, was not either Kephas or petros, but petra, which means a large massive rock.

“… And That Rock Was CHRIST”

Notice a few other passages where this same Greek word petra is used. In Matthew 7:24, Jesus spoke of the man who built his house on a rock. The Greek word is petra. Could a man build a house, so firmly it could not be blown away, on a pebble or stone? Of course not! In the next verse, Jesus said the house fell not, even though the rain came in torrents, the floods came, the winds beat upon the house in fury, because that house was founded on a rock. Thus the word petra denotes bigness and solidity and strength! It is defined also as a mass of rock.

In Matthew 27:60, it is stated that the tomb in which Jesus was buried, after the crucifixion, was hewn out in the rock—in the petra! This is a mass of rock, not a single stone. It was big enough to have a family tomb hewn out of it. I have seen that rock. I have walked inside that tomb! It is a very large rock, not a tiny stone!

The Greek petra cannot mean the human Peter, but the glorified Christ! Speaking of the Israelites under Moses, in the wilderness, Paul writes: “… for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4).

According to the Liddell-Scott Greek-English Lexicon, “There is no example, in good authors, of [petra] in the sense of [petros].” On the contrary, petros is “distinguished from” petra.

In plain language, then, that petra was Christ—but the smaller stone, petros, or Kephas, was Simon Peter.

That settles the question, once and for all!

CHRIST Is Head of Church!

Was Peter the head of the Church? What did PETER himself say? Peter, speaking of Christ and the Church, wrote as follows: “Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion [the Church] a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed” (1 Peter 2:6-8).

In the above passage Peter is speaking to the Church. He quoted from Isaiah 28:16: “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation”! This pictures Christ as that foundation of the Church, on which it is built. God’s Church was built on the ROCK (its foundation), Christnot on the stone, Peter.

In the passage in 1 Peter 2, the word stone, in each case, is translated from the Greek word lithosnot petros. Lithos is defined as a stone, a millstone, a stumblingstone. The same word is used for the stones of which the temple was built—and also the stone that was rolled up to the door of Christ’s sepulcher, higher than a man’s head. The word rock, however, in verse 8, is translated from the Greek petra, meaning a massive stone. It pictures Christ—not Peter—as the Head of the Church.

The Church is described in Ephesians 2:20 as being “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets [including Old Testament prophets], Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” Here Christ is plainly said to be the Chief, or Head.

The real foundation of the Church is Christ. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).

Many teach that Christ left—went “way off,” forsook the Church—turned its leadership over to Peter and his successors. But Jesus Himself said: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). He is shown in Revelation 1:13, 18 to be the living Head, spiritually in the midst of the Church.

Who does the Word of God say is the living Head of the Church—Peter, an ecclesiastical leader, or Christ? READ IT!Christ is the head of the church”! (Ephesians 5:23). Read it also in Ephesians 4:15; 1:22; Colossians 1:18; 2:19.

Jesus Christ rose from the dead! Jesus Christ LIVES today! WHY then is Christ pictured either as a helpless babe in His mother’s arms, glorifying the mother even ahead of Christ—or else hanging dead on a cross? Jesus Christ is alive today! For more than 1,900 years, He has been the living Head and High Priest of the true Church, which He built.

The AUTHORITY Is Christ!

So the true New Testament Church of God was founded by Jesus Christ—not the Apostle Peter. It was the resurrected, living Christ, after His ascension to God’s throne in heaven, who actually founded the Church. It was on the day of Pentecost, a.d. 31. On that day, Christ, as He had promised (John 16:7), sent the Holy Spirit to enter into His disciples, thus baptizing—or plunging them into, the Church.

The Church of God is not a building or cathedral. The word church comes from the Greek ekklesia, which means congregation of people. The Church of God consists of people—the begotten children of God. It consists of—and only of—those who have been begotten of God by having received His Holy Spirit.

“[B]y one Spirit are we all baptized into one body”—the body of Christ the true Church of God (1 Corinthians 12:13). The word baptized means plunged into—inducted into. The receiving of God’s Spirit begets one with God-life—makes him partaker of “the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). Such are begotten children of God—and such compose the Church of God. When actually born, immortal, by resurrection or instantaneous change to immortality at Christ’s coming, this Church of God will become the Kingdom of God!

So it was Jesus Christ, who went to heaven, and sent God’s Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, who founded the Church. The same resurrected, living Jesus Christ, has been the Head of the true Church—for more than 1,900 years!

So we have found the one and only infallible authority to settle this Sabbath question, once and for all!

That Supreme Authority is Jesus Christ, and His written Word, the Bible.

EVEN SO—What’s the Difference?

But even if Jesus Christ is the living Head of the true Church—even if He is the Supreme Authority to settle this question, one may still ask, “How does that concern me? And even if it involves the sin question, does it still make any difference?”

Most people today leave God out of the picture. People today take sin lightly. And as I said before, if God is not in the picture, then you cannot possibly see any reason why it makes any difference which day, or whether you observe it.

But God is IN the picture!

True, God doesn’t seem real to most people. But YOU are a creation of God! God Almighty put humanity on Earth for a purpose! His laws and His decrees determine your happiness, well-being and success here and now—and your fate for eternity! When you appear at the final Judgment—you won’t be the Judge.

The Eternal God created the entire universe—He set in motion, and sustains, and controls, every power and force and energy. He rules His creation. And the laws He set in living motion determine your well-being or lack of it. Oh, yes, He is in the picture!

And, is the sin question involved? WHO determines what is sin—and just what difference does it make?

Most people do not know what sin is. Some say dancing is a sin—others say it is not. Some say smoking is a sin—others say it is not. Different people—different churches—have different ideas.

But that could be very costly ignorance! The first thing you need to get settled in your mind is this: The living God of all power does not allow us to decide WHAT is sin. He determines WHAT is sin, and compels you to decide WHETHER to sin! And the penalty of sin is death for ETERNITY! That penalty is real! It is a terrifying, frightful fate!

Sin is doing what God says is harmful and injurious to you—and/or others! Sin is doing what deprives you of God’s blessings—peace, happiness, security, abundant and joyful living, as a condition to God’s supreme gift of eternal life!

Yes, the living Jesus Christ—and the Holy Bible—constitute the sole Supreme Authority to settle this question once and for all! The question of which day is directly concerned with your connection with God! And that is directly connected with your welfare here and now, and your eternity. It makes a tremendous difference to GOD!

Jesus Christ is the living personal Word of God. And the Holy Bible is the written Word of God, by which Christ speaks to you! Christ is the active Head of the only true Church. We have found the Supreme Authority!

So now let us see what Christ, through the Bible, says about which is the day to keep in this New Testament era—and whether it makes any difference.

Continue Reading: Chapter 2: Who Made and Established the Sabbath?