Chapter 8

The Amazing Truth About Christian Fellowship

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

Now notice another eye-opening reason why only the true Sabbath day can be the day for assembled Christian fellowship.

Jesus Christ said, in John 15, “I am the vine, ye are the branches …” (verse 5). We are told to abide in Him (verse 4), or, spiritually, we can do nothing. A grape branch cannot produce grapes unless joined to the vine.

A Divine Fellowship

Next, notice the basis of Christian fellowship, in 1 John 1: “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness [that is, disobey His commands], we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light [live by every word of the Bible as our way of life, being doers of His law, not hearers only—being obedient], as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (verses 3, 6-7).

We can have true Christian fellowship only when each individual Christian is joined to Christ, and to the Father—as a branch of a grapevine joined to the vine.

Now what joins the many branches of that vine to one another? When people meet on their own human-appointed day, trying to join themselves together in a church group, Christ is not present with them in that fellowship. He never put His presence in that day! They are like a lot of grape branches, cut off from the vine, trying to join themselves together!

Now, how did we find that Jesus Christ put His presence in His Sabbath? On that day He rested, and was refreshed. On that day, while resting, He blessed that day—He set it apart for holy use and purpose as His day—He hallowed it and made it holy time.

But how did He make it holy? Remember, I showed you plainly before, that just as the very ground where Moses stood, near the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-5) was holy groundbecause Christ’s presence was there, and Christ’s presence makes holy whatever or wherever He is—just as we can be holy if, and only if, Christ’s presence, by the Holy Spirit, is within us—so Christ’s presence in the Sabbath makes that space of time holy.

When the Lord of the Old Testament, the Word (Greek, logos) (John 1:1-3) was made human flesh (verse 14), and was named Jesus Christ, some 4,000 years after He rested originally on the Sabbath, putting His presence in it (Genesis 2:1-3), He still kept the Sabbath, and put His presence in it (Luke 4:16) “as his custom was.”

He had not changed. Jesus Christ is the same still today (Hebrews 13:8).

So His very presence is in His day, the same today as then. When God’s own obedient children, each joined to Christ—each walking with Christ in harmony, obedient—assemble on His holy day, they actually have fellowship with Christ. He is there, in their midst, in Spirit! And then Christ joins them together in fellowship with Him and the Father!

When people assemble on Sunday, Christ’s presence is not in that day! You may argue to have your own way, rather than surrender to this truth, but this is truth which will judge you when you face Christ in the Judgment!

Can You Worship Christ in Vain?

Then what about public or church-group worship in a weekly service on Sunday—or Friday?

Listen and heed! Your Bible says: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in TRUTH” (John 4:24).

What do the churches of this world say? “Worship God according to the dictates of your own conscience.” That is contrary to what God says!

How do you worship God in spirit and in truth? What is truth? Jesus said plainly: “[T]hy word is truth.” God’s Word is the Bible!

The Bible authorizes only the Sabbath as God’s weekly holy day for joint assembly and worship. The Bible is the authority of God! What authority do people have for Sunday?

To worship God in spirit and in TRUTH is to worship Him how and when (so far as congregational assembly is concerned) He says in His Word, which is truth!

God Himself set apart the one and only day that identifies Him as the Creator! He set it apart for a blessing! For our physical rest! For spiritual refreshing!

And the day on which we cease from our business or labors, He set apart as “an holy convocation” (Leviticus 23:2-3), which means a commanded assembly, at which our presence is commanded. It is the very day when His divine spiritual presence is there, also. He set apart as the day for that joint worship together the one day which identifies the God whom we are to worship!

No other day can fulfill that great and glorious purpose!

Yes, God has a reason for the Sabbath—a purpose in it!

Those who assemble to worship God and the Lord Jesus Christ in any way contrary to the way or the time God’s Word commands are not worshipping Him in spirit and in TRUTH. God will not accept their worship.

Did you realize that Christ Himself said you can not only profess His name and call yourself a Christian, but you may actually worship Himand do it in vain? Still totally “unsaved”?

Listen to the very words of Christ: “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men …. [Y]e reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition” (Mark 7:7-9).

Assembling for worship on Sunday is nothing but the tradition of men—and a pagan tradition at that! Those who do so reject the commandment of God, disobey God’s commandment to keep His Sabbath day holy, are guilty of committing sin, and such worship is utterly in vain!

Jesus Christ said so!

NOT “Jewish” Sabbath

Yet, in spite of all the scriptures in the whole Bible—in spite of direct commands from God—many have heard or read of the Sabbath being called “the Jewish Sabbath” so many times that their minds will argue immediately: “Yes, but all this about the Sabbath being holy—about the Sabbath covenant—doesn’t apply to me; all that was for the Jewish people—and I’m a Gentile.”

O yes, this does apply to YOU!

Jesus Christ says, “The sabbath was made for man”—for all mankind! Remember? It was made when man was made—at the time of Adam! There were no Jewish people then! God Almighty does not have one standard for Jewish people and another for Gentiles. No Gentile can become a Christian until he becomes an Israelite—read Ephesians 2:11-22. God says, through the Apostle Paul, to Gentiles: “There is neither Jew nor Greek … for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye [Gentiles] be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed [children], and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:28-29).

You cannot find any such term as “the Jewish Sabbath” anywhere in the Bible! That is a derisive, scornful, contemptuous epithet. It came from non-Christian wolves in sheep’s clothing, as Christ labeled them. They intended to deceive by creating prejudice against the truth of God. It is the slurring, discrediting, misleading language and terminology employed by deceivers, false prophets, and upholders of pagan doctrines and customs contrary to God’s Word.

It is NOT Bible language!

Yet, perhaps even most of you who read this have been so prejudiced by that contemptuous term that it is very difficult for your mind to comprehend, and to accept, the plain truth of your own Bible!

Read again Ephesians 2:11-12. You have to become an Israelite to be saved! You have heard a lot of false and anti-scriptural teaching leading you to suppose salvation is for Gentiles. It is not!

All the promises were given to Israel. Why?

Listen! Read carefully, and understand! All nations had gone into anti-God, false, pagan religions. In such a God-rejecting world, God raised up, from the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in the days of Moses, a special nation to be His nation—to be a light to the non-believing Gentiles. Incidentally, the very name Gentile means unbeliever.

God gave this special called-out nation His right ways of life—and to them were given the promises which include salvation (Romans 9:4). But, when a Gentile-born person repents, accepts Christ and receives God’s Holy Spirit, then he becomes, spiritually, an Israelite, a child of Abraham, and an heir of the promises (Galatians 3:28-29).

Salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22). Salvation, however, is for everyone that believes (in living faith, not dead faith)—to the Jew first, and, through Christ, also to the Gentile (Romans 1:16).

You can have no salvation unless you become, spiritually, a Jew! (Romans 2:28-29). Of course, through disobedience, all natural-born Israelites have been cut off from the promises and God’s salvation—but they may receive it, like all others, through Christ! (Romans 11:17-18, 23-26).

So the true Christian will put out of his heart that prejudice and hatred against Jews.

Is Christ IN You?

Once again, does it make any difference which day, or whether we keep it?

The Bible definition of a Christian is one who has received the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, and is being led by the Spirit of God. In other words, Christ IN you is your hope of glory! (Colossians 1:27).

The Holy Spirit is the life-imparting Spirit that emanates from the very Person of the Father, and of Christ! The Holy Spirit IN you puts in you not only the love, the power, the faith and the life of the ever-living Christ—but also the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5).

It means, literally, that Christ Himself is IN you—not in Person, but in Spirit (Galatians 2:20). Jesus Christ is a Savior who literally comes inside us—in our minds—to clean us up and save us from within!

It means that Jesus Christ is living His life within us! Or, in other words, it means that we yield to let Jesus Christ live our lives for us!

Now IF Jesus Christ is IN YOU (and you are not a truly converted Christian unless He is!), will He, in you, profane His holy day, and observe a pagan day?

IMPOSSIBLE!

Jesus Christ has not changed. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever! (Hebrews 13:8).

It is Christ who made the Sabbath. It is Christ who rested on that very first Sabbath! It is the Eternal (YHVH) who became the Christ who spoke to the Israelites on the Sabbath (Exodus 16). It is Christ who kept the Sabbath as His custom was (Luke 4:16).

Jesus Christ has always put His presence in His own holy day! IF Christ is IN you—He, in you, can keep no other day now! And IF you, having read the truth in this booklet, now make excuse, or rebel, and refuse to keep holy Christ’s holy day, then on His infallible authority, I say to you that He is not in you!

It is just that serious!

God gives His Holy Spirit only to them that OBEY Him! (Acts 5:32.) The conditions to receiving the Holy Spirit as God’s gift are: Repent, and be baptized (Acts 2:38).

Sin is the transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4). That law is a spiritual law (Romans 7:14). The penalty for transgression is death—for all eternity! (Romans 6:23). The Fourth Commandment of that law commands you to remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy! It also says the seventh day, not Sunday the first, is the Sabbath of the Eternal thy God! And it is the seventh day of the week—the day before the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1)—not just any seventh day—not any one day out of seven.

There are no loopholes! There is no escape, for those who disobey! God’s laws are enforced automatically! God needs no human policemen to catch you! There will be no human court trial with a jury of 12 fallible and easily misled human jurors.

No, there will be no escape! This is the Almighty God you are dealing with, on this question!

God is love! God loves mankind. God loves YOU! God made His Sabbath holy for a purpose—to keep YOU in His fellowship! His law is love. It takes love to fulfill it! It requires a spiritual love to fulfill the spiritual law. You were not born with that love. God freely offers it to you—His own love, “shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy [Spirit]” (Romans 5:5). When you surrender, repent, believe, God promises His Holy Spirit. His Spirit imparts to you the spiritual love to fulfill His law!

It is truly wonderful!

It keeps you in Christ’s own fellowship—in close contact. It bestows upon you His security, peace of mind, happiness, abundant living!

“But,” one may still object, “how could I live, if I can’t kindle a fire on the Sabbath, or even eat any food?”

Let’s understand! The prohibition against “picking up sticks,” or “kindling a fire” on the Sabbath was part of the added civil and ritualistic, or ceremonial, law of Moses—no part of the Ten Commandment spiritual law!

Because of transgressions—that is, because the spiritual law was being broken—God added, 430 years after Abraham, through Moses, a material and physical law of rituals and ceremonies (Galatians 3:16-19). That law was a physical law, including animal sacrifices. It was a substitute for Christ’s sacrifice and the Holy Spirit, which was not given to Old Testament Israelites. The Holy Spirit gives us, now, power to obey. These rituals and sacrifices consisted of physical labor—things to do morning, noon and night—to instill in them the habit of obedience. Why? Because they had been disobeying! The physical rituals were to teach them obedience! Therefore they were a “schoolmaster” lasting only until Christ came (Galatians 3:24).

When the reality came (Christ—and the gift of the Holy Spirit), the substitute ended.

The Sabbath command is a spiritual command. It has to do with our fellowship, assembly, and worship of God. It forbids our regular weekday work or labor by which we earn a living—our job, or business.

But the Sabbath was made FOR man—as a blessing to man! It was made to be enjoyed—to spiritually refresh, in blessed fellowship and communion with Christ!

Jesus Christ kept the Sabbath while He lived as a human on Earth. And whole chapters in the four Gospel books are devoted to recording how He taught us to keep the Sabbath.

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day observed some 65 stern regulations of “do’s and don’ts” which the human rabbis had instituted to make Sabbath observance a “yoke of bondage.” Jesus Christ swept those human regulations aside.

On one Sabbath He and His disciples were going through a cornfield. The disciples plucked ears of corn to eat. The Pharisees complained. But Jesus rebuked them—showed it is right to do minor work to gather or prepare food to eat on the Sabbath. That was the very experience that caused Him to say, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath,” and to proclaim that He is Lord of the Sabbath—and therefore the Sabbath is the Lord’s day!

Jesus healed the sick on the Sabbath. This was not doing business or labor by which He earned a living. It was an act of mercy—and of love. Jesus said it is right to do good on the Sabbath day.

He showed it is even right to pull an ox out of a ditch on the Sabbath—but too many today would throw the poor ox in the ditch on Friday, so they could have an excuse to pull it out on the Sabbath! Jesus expected us to use wisdom and judgment—and be honest!

Many, having read this far, will say—“But I can’t keep the Sabbath. I’d lose my job.”

Let me tell you something! I have known of hundreds of such cases! It takes living faith to OBEY God! Can you trust HIM, even with your job? Unless you can, I wouldn’t give you a counterfeit penny for your chances of escaping the lake of fire!

Never ask an employer if you can have Saturdays off. Use a little wisdom—and pray for God’s help. Then tell your employer, in a quiet but earnest and positive manner, that you have learned that those hours from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset have been made holy by God, and that He commands you to keep them holy. You are very sorry if it inconveniences him in any way—but you will not be able to work any more during those hours. Say it in a friendly, but firm manner. Tell him you are willing to work Sundays, if that would help.

Out of hundreds of experiences, I have found that nine in ten do not lose their jobs! If you first pray, and ask God sincerely to give you grace and favor in your employer’s eyes, and then tell him firmly but politely and kindly, it makes it pretty hard for an employer to interfere with your religion!

Nine in ten have not lost their jobs, as they probably expected they would. And the one in ten who did? Nearly always, the few who did lose their jobs soon found better ones.

You can TRUST God!

This is where you have to mix living faith with obedience!

Finally, remember once again, God has decided what is sin—He compels you to decide WHETHER to sin, or to obey!

Now It’s UP TO YOU!

It is now up to YOU!

I have given you God’s Word faithfully. It is not popular. It is not what the popular majority tell you.

But now you KNOW! You will be judged by what you do with this knowledge!

You must make your own choice. Rebellion means eternal punishment of everlasting death. God will save no person He does not rule.

You must choose between God’s ways, and man’s ways he falsely calls “Christian.”

My responsibility ends with telling you. I have cried aloud. I have lifted my voice. I have told you your sin in this regard. God calls you to repentance. But He will not force you. You must make your own decision, and what you sow you shall reap.

You shall be saved by grace, but God does lay down conditions. You can comply, and receive glorious grace—or you can rebel, and pay the death penalty—for eternity!

Where to Keep the Sabbath?

Often, when people learn about the Sabbath, they seek some religious group to assemble with. But it is not enough to meet with just any religious body because it may accept the “Sabbath argument.” This does not necessarily mean it is the true Church of God.

God commands us to seek the body—the work—which is empowered by God.

There is only one such Church!

It is doing the work of God. It is, as Jesus said it would be, a “little flock,” persecuted, despised by the world. But it does have dedicated, consecrated, converted, fully instructed and trained, ordained ministers around the world—available to call on you, visit you in your home, answer your questions about the Sabbath, explain the Bible to you—IF YOU REQUEST IT! But none of them will EVER call on you, unless you of your own free will request it.

But if you, of your own volition, want to know more about the very Church which Jesus Christ founded, and heads today—if you’d like to ask questions about it, why not request a personal visit? We may be able to have one of God’s own ministers call on you quite soon.

Some, not realizing one of God’s own called and consecrated ministers could call and explain, and answer questions, have joined one of the churches of this world. You cannot join the true Church of God—the Almighty God puts you in.

But if you have questions about the Sabbath, Christian fellowship, doctrines or practices—or any questions about the Church or the Bible, or the Christian life, write us.

Weigh carefully the facts, according to your own Bible. Then make your decision and take what steps God shows you.