‘Pick & Choose’ Theology of Ray Comfort – Ten Commandments but not the 4th - Part 1
The ‘Pick & Choose’ Theology of Ray Comfort – Ten Commandments (but not the Fourth)
For those of you who do not know, Ray Comfort is an evangelist that centers on preaching the gospel. He uses the 10 commandments to highlight how everyone has sinned and presents the gospel message. For example he draws a crowd then asks a person if they ever told a lie, stole anything, have they ever looked at a person with lust (adultery) and have they ever used God’s name in vain. The majority of people respond with ‘Yes’ and to that Ray Comfort would then say…
“So by your own admission you are a lying, thief, and an adulterer who blasphemes God. If were to stand before God on Judgment day would you be innocent or guilty?”
Ray goes on to show the ‘bad news’ that everyone is guilty and in need of a savior. Then he presents the ‘good news’ of the Messiah and how He died for our sins. His program for teaching evangelism & witnessing is one of the better ones I have seen, however there is a one problem with Ray. While he uses the Ten Commandments, what most people don’t know is that he ignores the forth commandment, keeping the Sabbath. Matter of fact Ray is so against the Sabbath he wrote an article stating that believers are free from Sabbath for various reasons.
What a second – Ray says that God’s standard is the Ten Commandments while talking to people on the street but then he ignores one part of that standard, the forth commandment. That’s odd, some might even say hypocritical. So let us look at Ray’s article and then will look at the scriptures and see what it teaches. BTW this article is included in every Evidence Bible that Ray sells through Living Waters Ministries – Don’t get me wrong I like the witnessing tips and other info included in the bible but this is one thing that bothers me. So with that said lets begin…
“Freedom From Sabbath-Keeping by Ray Comfort - http://www.livingwaters.com/witnessingtool/freedomfromsabbathkeeping.shtml
We are told by those who insist that we must keep the Sabbath Day, that we are in great error because we worship on the first day of the week. We are informed that Sunday comes from the Pagan belief and worship the Sun God. We are told that Jesus and Paul kept the Sabbath Day as an example for us to follow, and that the Roman Catholic Church is responsible for the change in the day of worship. If we continue to worship on Sunday, then we will receive the mark of the beast.”
Reply: It is unfortunate that Ray starts off with what is called a strawman argument. He presents a number of things here, some are truth and others which he claims are truth. He later tears down some of those things as to prove he is right. However as we will see later on, Ray discounts, ignores and/or holds to the doctrines and traditions of man over the “in context” word of God that does not change. Let us look at Ray’s claims in detail…
1. People must worship on the Sabbath &/or not worship on the first day of the week
Note: This is a false argument because nowhere in the bible does it forbid anyone from worshipping God on any day of the week. If you have the means, you can worship the Father 7 days a week, 365 days a year if you want.
2. Sunday does come from pagan religions
Note: This is a rabbit trail that Ray presents –the facts actually show that everyday, not just Sunday is titled after a pagan god. According to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_the_days_of_the_week everyday was/is associated with pagan gods and named after them. Now do believers today give homage to each god on each day of the week? Of course not. Again this is a strawman argument that Ray knocks down. However, more importantly, what does the bible teach? In scripture we see that each day, Sunday through Friday are not given titles or names by God but rather a number – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. The only day that is given a special title or label is the 7th day which is called the Sabbath (Shabbat in Hebrew) starting when God created everything.
3. The RCC is responsible for changing the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday
Reply: The RCC did make the most recent ‘official change’ (BTW this change was not based on the bible). Now governments and ruling powers long prior to this forced people to not observe the Sabbath under strict punishment. This persecution occurred from the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 and continued throughout time. Fast forward to Emperor Constantine in AD 321. He merged paganism and Christianity and made the following declaration/decree/law. "On the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed" (Codex Justinianus lib. 3, tit. 12, 3). What most people don’t know is the oath that people had to swear to. Here is what is known as the Constantine Creed…
“I renounce all customs, rites, legalisms, unleavened breads and sacrifices of lambs of the Hebrews, and all the other feasts of the Hebrews, sacrifices, prayers, aspirations, purifications, sanctifications, and propitiations, and fasts and new moons, and Sabbaths, and superstitions, and hymns and chants, and observances and synagogues---absolutely everything Jewish, every Law, rite and custom and if afterwards I shall wish to deny and return to Jewish superstition, or shall be found eating with Jews, or feasting with them, or secretly conversing and condemning the Christian religion instead of openly confuting them and condemning their vain faith, then let the trembling of Cain and the leprosy of Gehazi cleave to me, as well as the legal punishments to which I acknowledge myself liable….
…And may I be an anathema in the world to come, and may my soul be set down with Satan and the devils.” (Stcfano Assemani, Acta Sanctorium Martyrum Orientalium at Occidentalium, Vol. 1, Rome 1748, page 105).
“But that was only for the Jews right?” Wrong, this oath applied to the Christians too.
What is interesting is that in Daniel 7:25 it states the enemy (Satan) will try to change God’s word, that he would change God’s law and appointed times (His feast days). This is exactly what we see in the oath by forbidding the Sabbaths and Feasts of the Lord. Since the majority of the believers during that time observed the Sabbaths and Feasts they would also swear to not following God’s word, but to also accept the pagan ways of Rome and the new state religion…
“I accept all customs, rites, legalism, and feasts of the Romans, sacrifices. Prayers, purifications with water, sanctifications by Pontificus Maxmus (high priests of Rome), propitiations, and feasts, and the New Sabbath “Sol dei” (day of the Sun), all new chants and observances, and all the foods and drinks of the Romans. In other words, I absolutely accept everything Roman, every new law, rite and custom, of Rome, and the New Roman Religion.”
It should also be noted that later on, approximately AD 365, the Imperial Church of ROME, aka Catholic Council of Laodicea decreed the following…
Christians must not rest on the Sabbath, but must work on that day. Rather, honoring the Lord’s Day which is “sun-day” for Sol Invictus (the invincible sun). But if any shall be found to be Judaizers (those that observe the Sabbath and Feasts of the Lord), let them be anathema (against) Christ.”
While the facts show leaders and pagan governments outside the body of Christ did change the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, Ray hopes that you will also accept as truth his remark that “If we continue to worship on Sunday, then we will receive the mark of the beast”. This statement is false when you look at the bible. There are no scriptures teaching this in the Old Testament or in the New Testament. This is at best, poor exegesis or maybe an oversight on the part of Ray; at worst he is upholding a tradition of men and teaching people to actually go against the commandments of God. When we go through the rest of what Ray claims and what the bible states, you can make up your mind on which.
4. Another strawman argument by Ray – “nowhere does the Fourth Commandment say that we are to ‘worship’ on the Sabbath day”.
Note: As addressed before there is no commandment in SCRIPTURE stating one MUST worship on the Sabbath or any other day of the week. Yet again Ray sets up this strawman and knocks it down. You can worship everyday of the week if you want to – there is no support for what Ray claims in scripture. Instead of going to the scriptures Ray is using false arguments, that those who observe the Sabbath say you must WORSHIP on the Sabbath only is not true when you test this claim against the scriptures.
5. More false logic – “Sabbath-keepers worship on Saturday. Do they know the word ‘Saturday’ comes from? It’s from the Latin word ‘Saturnus… Saturday is from the pagan day of worship of the planet Saturn”
Note: Here Ray is using false logic against false logic to disprove the Sabbath. According to Ray’s logic you should not worship God on any day if that day is named after pagan gods. Ray uses to dissuade people from what the scriptures actually teach. Again scriptures do not command anyone to not worship because a day is named after a pagan god because God created the days to begin with.
6. More false arguments – ‘If a Christian’s salvation depends upon keeping a certain day…”
Note: Here Ray unsuccessfully tries to make the Sabbath a salvation issue yet nowhere in scripture do we see this. We are saved by grace through faith, not of works that any should boast, period. Perhaps Ray talked with someone who made this unbiblical claim; instead of taking that person/s word, he should have studied the scriptures to see what it actually states about the Sabbath and how its not a salvation issue.
7. “The only commands they gave (to New Testament believers) were to refrain ‘from meat offered to idols, from blood, things strangled and from fornication.” So the Sabbath has been done away with.
Note: This is another false argument that Ray presents by using out of context scriptures. If we continue with his logic in other biblical matters, we encounter more serious problems. Remember God said that we are to not ‘add to’ or ‘take away’ from His word (as seen in the OT and NT). If gentile believers were only to refrain from meat offered to idols, blood, things strangled & fornication then does that mean stealing is ok now? That we can cheat our employees by not paying them what we owe? That we don’t have to return lost property but keep it for ourselves? That we can take the name of God in vain? Or worse is bestiality & incest ok for believers today? I could go on but everything I just listed are commandments from God’s word, His law which He gave for life and blessing. When Ray chooses to only do those four things and disregard others, it causes a ripple effect of lawlessness and problems with other scriptures – hence we know its not a proper interpretation of God’s word. It is also hypocritical to point out the sins of others using the Ten Commandments when you yourself teach its okay to break the Fourth commandment. You see the problem it causes when you pigeon hole yourself to just one small passage (cherry picking & pulling scriptures out of context) rather than looking at the whole counsel of God. If our beliefs cause conflict with other scriptures then that is a red flag showing what we believe is not in accordance with God’s word.
8. Ray claims the Sabbath was done away with because the Apostle’s came together on the first day of the week ref. Acts 20:7…
Note: Unfortunately Ray seems to think that phrase ‘breaking bread’ means the Sabbath was changed from Saturday to Sunday by first century believers &/or it means ‘Sunday church service’, however this is not the case. The ‘breaking of bread’ is used throughout scripture – it’s often used for referring to common meals and at other times like observing the Passover & other feasts of the Lord. What is more interesting is that later on in Acts 20 (verses 11-14) Paul after talking/teaching all night walked almost 20 miles to Assos on the next day - which was Sunday. So that means there was no Sunday church service but rather it was more likely a common meal. What is important is if the passage does not state there was a church service at that time, we cannot say there was. So again we see another instance where Ray pulls a single verse out of context to try to (wrongly) prove the Sabbath was done away and believers held service on Sunday but the text shows this is not the case. If we look at scriptures we find that Paul upheld the Sabbath and observed it for decades long after the resurrection of the Messiah. Consider the following scriptures from Paul the ‘Apostle to the Gentiles’…
a. Paul preached on the Sabbath to Jews and more importantly to gentiles on the Sabbath… “So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.” Acts 13:42. Now this was a great opportunity for Paul to set the record straight that the gentiles did not have to observe the Sabbath but instead meet on the next day which was Sunday – the problem is he did not. Matter of fact on the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God on the Sabbath and again Paul did not correct or teach against the Sabbath or tell them it had changed to Sunday ref. Acts 13:44.
b. Paul later on in Acts 16:13 on the Sabbath went where prayers were made and spoke to people there. Notice he did not correct or rebuke anyone for observing the Sabbath.
c. In Acts 17:2 Paul, “as was his custom” talked with people for three Sabbaths about the scriptures. Again no rebukes or him telling people the Sabbath was done away with.
d. In Acts 18:4 Paul is seen reasoning in the synagogue EVERY Sabbath and persuaded both Jews and Greeks. If the Sabbath was not to be observed by Greeks/gentile believers again he should have taught against this but Paul did not.
e. So we see Paul was very pro Sabbath – even to the point where he was accused of not observing God’s commandments (which includes the fourth – keep the Sabbath) he responded in the following manner in Acts 24 & 25… “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers (Abraham, Isaac & Jacob), believing ALL things which are written in the LAW and in the prophets” it continues in Acts 25 “Neither against the LAW of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.”
f. In Acts 28:23 Paul continues to testify about Yeshua/Jesus from both the law and the prophets from morning till evening. Also note at no time does Paul teach that the Sabbath was done away with during his ministry.
9. “The collection was taken on the first day of the week” proves the Sabbath changed to Sunday
Note: Ray again takes a scripture out of context, in this case 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 to (falsely) prove the Sabbath was done away with. Yet if we look at the context we see not one word about this day being a church service. Yes it occurred on the first day of the week but it was a special collection for the believers in Jerusalem. In this passage there is not one indication that this collection was part of a religious Sunday service. Paul tells that “each one should lay aside something” for when he does show up. Notice he does not say to ‘bring it to the Sunday service’ or any other implication. To claim otherwise is lacking and disingenuous, not only to God but to believers as well.
10. Ray pulls more scripture out of context – ‘We are not to judge each other when it comes to the issue of on what day we should worship” ref. Romans 14:5-10 “… one man esteems one day of the week; another esteems everyday alike…”
Note: What we find is Ray is pulling another scripture out of context. If you look at the context of Romans 14 you will find absolutely NO reference to the Sabbath at all; matter of fact the word “Sabbath” is not even found in the entire book of Romans, let alone in chapter 14! The context of Romans 14 is about eating as seen in verses 2-3… “For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.” Do you get what the topic of chapter 14 was about? Yes, eating and forms of fasting, not the Sabbath. This passage is Paul’s response to a conflict where some believers were fasting (eating only vegetables) and others were not. It was so bad that some were judging the salvation of other based on their fasting practices. Paul’s response in Romans 14 sets the record straight it was not a salvation and we can see it had nothing to do with the Sabbath at all.
Ray also adds to God’s word by insisting that this passage is also talking about “worship” but that word is not found in this chapter either! Matter of fact the word “worship” is only found once in the entire book of Romans and its in reference to worshipping a creature instead of the Creator ref Romans 1:25 and has nothing to do with the subject of the Sabbath. Ray then compounds the problem by only quoting part of verse 6 about esteeming but neglects to tell you rest of the verse which is a summary of the matter on eating & forms of fasting…
“…He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.”
Don’t you think this should be included in the quote? I do because it summarizes of what Romans 14 is talking about, which is eating & fasting to the Lord, not the Sabbath.
Again Ray takes great effort to pull scriptures out of context to uphold a doctrine of men, i.e. to not keep the Sabbath and/or claim that its been done away with and no longer applicable today.
11. Ray claims Jesus ‘had to keep the whole Law to be the Perfect Sacrifice” but did He?
Note: While it may sound right at first but did Jesus really keep the whole law? Any person who takes the time to read the bible will see that there are parts of God’s law that only applies to men, some only apply to women, some only children, some only to employers, employees, government officials, etc. Therefore it would be impossible for Jesus to keep the laws that applied to women, hence the statement is flawed. Unfortunately many don’t take the time to read and understand so they end up making statements that are not in accordance with God’s word, just as Ray did in this instance. Perhaps it was an oversight. Now Jesus did keep the laws and commandments that applied to Him – He was tempted but He did not sin and His sacrifice as the Lamb of God was acceptable as scripture states.
12. “The reason Paul went into the synagogue each Sabbath wasn’t to keep the Law. If it was, then it was contrary to everything he taught about being saved by grace…”
Note: As we have already shown Ray tries to argue that observing the Sabbath is against the salvation of grace. If this was the case, then we would see where Paul wrote and or taught the gentile believers to not observe the Sabbath, but we do not. We should see numerous incidents of Paul teaching gentile believers it was done away with and the 1st day of the week (Sunday) was the new Sabbath but he did not throughout all his years in Acts.
Now Ray claims it was a means that Paul used to preach the gospel to the Jews, an excuse. However this presents a problem because that means Paul never rebuked the false teaching of Sabbath observance but used it in order to preach the gospel. NEVER do we see Paul or any New Testament disciple, apostle or writer do this – the end does not justify the means. Now did Paul go to synagogues? Yes but he did not do so out of false pretenses. He was up front on how Yeshua/Jesus was the prophesied Messiah. To imply Paul was dishonest is disingenuous. Continued in Part 2...