AN ADVENTURE IN
ABOUT the middle of the morning next day, all that could be seen of
Frank Richards were his feet sticking out from under a car in Sam Brown’s
repair shop. And Sam, like a brown, greasy streak, was busying himself
with the intricate parts of a motor, when up drove the preacher to the
curb and honked his horn. Could Sam give his car the once over and check
up on the lighting system? Yes, Sam could; would he come right in with the
car, and maybe it wouldn’t take more than a few minutes. It didn’t,
but the preacher didn’t drive out again right away. Instead, he and Sam
engaged in a whispered conversation, and in answer to an inquiry, Sam
pointed to the feet protruding from under the car on the other side of the
Then, followed by
his minister, he went over and gave the feet a Christian kick. "Hey,
Frank," he said, "snap out of that and meet a friend of
The feet wiggled,
the heels dug in, and the body inched along out and up. Frank rubbed his
eyes to get some dirt out of them and made worse an already grease-daubed
face. But he grinned at the preacher, as the latter eyed him narrowly.
"You have me
at a disadvantage, sir," laughed Sam Brown’s hireling, after his
boss had introduced them. "I can’t even shake hands with you, and
he showed his grimy hands.
"We will take
the will for the deed," answered the minister cordially, and winked
as he shook his own immaculate hand as a substitute. "Mr. Brown has
been telling me about your conversations with him on religion; and I
wanted to ask you a question."
if I can," invited Richards humbly.
know, young man," declared the preacher with an air of imparting
valuable information to the ignorant, "that Christians now are not
under the law but under grace, and therefore they are not required to keep
the old law?"
"I know we are
under grace, and not under the law; but I did not know that we are thereby
released from keeping the law. My understanding of the situation is
that to be under the law is to be under its condemnation, under sentence
of death because we have broken it; but by virtue of the grace, or
unmerited favor, of God through Christ, we are pardoned from meeting the
fate we deserve, but go on keeping the law just the same. If a convict is
pardoned by the grace of a ruler, he is more then ever expected to keep
the law of the state, isn’t he? And he will want to keep it
because of his thankfulness for being pardoned."
"But ‘by the
deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified’; we are ‘justified
by faith,"’ quoted the preacher with an air of confidence.
"‘Do we then
make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the
law,"’ quoted Richards in return. "You can read all about that
in the third chapter of Romans. No, we are not freed from keeping the law
by grace, or faith. Just the opposite is true. God’s law is everlasting;
it is the very foundation of His government. You say we are not
required to keep the law; then may Christians worship other gods, steal,
kill, covet? How do you read Paul? ‘By the law is the knowledge of sin.’
‘Where no law is, there is no transgression.’ (Romans 3:20; 4:15.) ‘What
shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God
forbid.’" (Romans 6:1, 2.)
"But, my dear
man," expostulated the minister, you are under the old covenant when
you keep the law, but I am under the new covenant which frees me from the
bondage of the law.
"I beg your
pardon, but you are mistaken," went on Richards. "The covenant
is a promise concerning the law, and are not the law itself. Covenant
means promise, not law. The old covenant was Israel’s agreement to keep
the law in their own strength, by works. They failed, as they were sure
to. The new covenant is God’s promise that the Christian is able to keep
the law, the same law, through the strength of Christ. I am under the new
covenant when I keep the law by the power of Christ. I will keep the
Sabbath command, as I will keep the command against murder. Both are in
the same law."
the Sabbath," said the preacher, you should know that it doesn’t
make any real difference which day of the week you keep, just so you
observe one day in seven."
"Then why do
you insist that we ought to keep Sunday?"
"Well, to be
in harmony with our surroundings. Everybody else does, you know."
else doesn’t. More than half the people in America do not even profess
to keep Sunday. And Jews keep Saturday and Moslems keep Friday, and the
heathen keep all sorts of days. If you were in a Mohammedan country would
you keep Friday to be in harmony? The very essence of Christianity is in
standing for principle, no matter what others do. I prefer to be in
harmony with God rather than men."
"But why make so
much of a mere day? Every day looks alike to me."
"Because God does.
God said in the most definite language He ever used, ‘The seventh day
is the Sabbath,’ and these words are in the very center of His law.
God is particular, regardless of whether we see the reason for it or not.
If He had meant any day in the week He would have said so. If
nothing else, the definite Sabbath day is a test to us to see if we will
do just as God says, or insist on having our own way.
blessed the institution of the Sabbath, not the day; we need
to keep the spirit of it, not the letter.
"All I know is
that God says He blessed the day, ‘wherefore the Lord
blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.’ True, the Sabbath is more than
a mere day; but it is still a very definite day. No other day but the
Fourth of July will do for the anniversary of the signing of the
Declaration of Independence. How can some other day do for the memorial of
creation? As to the spirit and the letter, does keeping a law in the
spirit free us from keeping it in the letter? I thought that keeping it in
the spirit meant keeping it in the letter and even better than the
letter. Keeping the sixth command in the letter would be to refrain from
actually taking a man’s life; keeping it in the spirit would mean that
and also not even hating the man, as Christ said in the sermon on the
mount. Keeping the Sabbath in the spirit means first keeping it in the
gentleman cleared his throat rather vigorously, "Don’t you think we
ought to keep Sunday rather than Saturday because the resurrection is a
greater event in Christian history than was the creation of the
world?" he asked.
"I might if
God had left it to man to decide which is the greater event in history;
but He does not allow human beings to make pronouncements concerning the
nature or time of His institutions; and He has said nothing Himself about
which is the greater. If He had left it to man, some might say the giving
of the law, some the birth of Christ, some the crucifixion, or some other
event was the greatest; and only confusion would result. The fact is, He
placed the memorial of creation on the seventh day, and told us to observe
it; and He placed no memorial on the first day of the week. Then why
should we place one there? To do so is to observe a purely man-made
institution. Besides, we already have a memorial of the
resurrection in the institution of baptism. (Romans 6:1-5.) To keep our
sabbath on Sunday in honor of that event also is to place two
memorials on the resurrection and none on the creation. God doesn’t work
that way. By keeping in mind creation, we also keep in mind re-creation,
the power of Christ not only to create (for it was He who created the
world in the first place, Colossians 1:16, 17) but to convert and save
from sin. Thus the seventh-day Sabbath is an indirect memorial of the
great work performed by Christ in the birth, life, death, and resurrection
All this time
the proprietor of Brown’s repair shop was casting uneasy and
apprehensive glances at his friend the preacher; but the latter did not
return them. To honest-hearted Sam it looked as if his ally was
floundering about for some additional argument that would have some
weight; and he found himself being a little ashamed of his pastor, and
actually to be beginning to pity him. His idol of irrefutable Sunday
argument was toppling. But the preacher was not giving up yet.
dear man," he took up the debate, "you must acknowledge that
time may have been lost, and many calendar changes have been made; so
there is no way of telling now just which is the seventh day of the
that," came back Richards readily, "there is no way to tell
which is the resurrection day, either, if time has been lost. The two
stand or fall together as to finding out which day of the week they came
upon. For we all agree perfectly that the Old Testament Sabbath came just
before the resurrection day, and you celebrate the latter on Sunday. I
have heard that you are an ardent advocate of Sunday laws. And to think
that you, a minister of the gospel of love and tolerance, would throw
people into jail for refusing to keep a day about which there is no
certainty at all as to whether or not it is the day you think it is. No,
reverend sir, you are resorting to tactics unworthy of you, and your
arguments eat each other up.
"But I would
fain save you from yourself. Truth to tell, time has not been lost.
Referring to the Bible in which you trust, if time records had been lost
up to the time when Israel came out of Egypt, time was found again then.
God Himself set men right then, if they were wrong before that. For during
a period of forty years, fifty-two times in a year, God performed a double
miracle to denote which day was the Sabbath. For the first five days of
the week a certain amount of manna fell; then on the sixth day a double
amount fell, and on the seventh day, the Sabbath, none at all fell. Thus
the definite seventh-day Sabbath was indelibly impressed on the minds,
customs, and national records of from one to three millions of people for
the period of a whole generation. And that people happens to be the only
racial group that from ancient times has kept distinct and has had almost
no mingling with other peoples. Today they are scattered far and wide
throughout the world. So ask Jews anywhere, everywhere, which is the
seventh day of the week, and without exception they will tell you it is
had been lost between the wilderness journey and the time of Christ, then
He, the Lord of the Sabbath, while He was here on the earth during the
period of another generation of men, set the world right as to the day of
the Sabbath by keeping strictly during His lifetime the Sabbath kept by
the Jews, the seventh day of the week, commonly called Saturday now. And
from then till now you know it hasn’t been lost, because Sunday has come
down to us as the resurrection day, and if we can locate the first day of
the week we can certainly locate the seventh.
"When it comes
to calendar changes, there has been only one such change since Christ’s
time, that from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. This was in 1582. No
doubt, since you have mentioned calendar changes, you are quite familiar
with the nature of these changes and can show me how they have affected
the days of the week. My friend, the burden of proof is on you."
"No-o-o, I don’t
know that I can, my good man. I don’t know much about the matter,"
evaded his auditor.
"Well, I do. I
think it is the business of a Bible student to know, — begging your
pardon, as I have great respect for one in your station. But I am
surprised that you would bring this up when you are not conversant with
the true details. As I was saying, there has been only one change in the
calendar during the Christian era. In order to adjust the days to correct
inadequate arrangement for leap years, Thursday, October four, was made to
be followed by Friday, October fifteen. Eleven days were removed from the month,
but the days of the week were not affected in any way. So Saturday
and Sunday came on the same days that they had before. And any good
encyclopedia will inform you that even in all proposed calendar
changes throughout the centuries the change of the weekly cycle of
seven days was never even thought of.
"The idea of
lost time is inconceivable. All records and customs of all nations, some
of them separated from one another for millenniums, coincide: on the days
of the original week. It would be absolutely impossible for the whole
world to lose the same day at the same time and no one know the
difference, for such an unheard-of occurrence would have to happen if time
records had been lost and the world be all agreed today. Also, the science
of astronomy, which can trace back records to the most ancient times by
observation of the heavenly bodies, testifies that our present weekly
cycle ‘is without a doubt the most ancient scientific institution
bequeathed to us by antiquity.’"
know something about it, don’t you?" exclaimed the churchman, with
more respect in his tone for the serious young man before him. "But
see here; you go your way, and I’ll go mine. We are all on the same way
to heaven anyway, and I judge we will all get there. You keep your
Sabbath, and Brother Brown and I will keep ours. God does not expect the
impossible of us. On a round world everybody can’t keep the same day at
the same time anyway.
Sam Brown glanced
at his man Frank with a look that said, "I’m pretty sure you will
have something ready for him on this, too." And Frank had.
"We may be all
on the same way to heaven," he said, "but the unfortunate fact
is that some of us are going one direction on it and some the opposite
direction, and it makes all the difference in the world which way one is
headed as to whether he reaches heaven or not. Jesus says He is ‘the
way,’ and He kept the seventh-day Sabbath; and He said also that He came
not to destroy the law about the Sabbath but to fulfill it — fill it
full by obeying it. It is His Sabbath, not mine, except to keep.
Your Sabbath is man’s sabbath; and Christ said, ‘In vain do they
worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.’ Matthew
can’t keep the same day on a round world then everybody on a round world
can’t keep Sunday on the same day; so why do you insist that everybody
shall, and why would you have strict civil laws to try to compel them to
do what you say is absolutely impossible to do? The truth is, as you know,
that no one anywhere in the world has any trouble telling which day is
Sunday or Saturday, or any other day. The Sabbath command says nothing
about a requirement to keep the same day at the same time. It says to keep
the seventh day, of course the seventh day when it comes to us wherever we
are. It comes in due time to Jerusalem, to Shanghai, and to Honolulu. The
sun marks the day, and it carries the day around the world with it, and
each people keeps the day as it comes to them. As you say, God does not
expect the impossible, but He does expect each one to do what the
commandment and common sense tell him to do."
put in Sam, "but I’ve heard you lose a day or gain a day when you
go around the world."
right, you do, or seem to; but that does not affect the keeping of the
Sabbath, as those who have tried it have found. And this gain or loss is
apparent, not real, as far as actual time is concerned. It comes from an
arrangement by astronomers so that time records can be adjusted on a round
world that marks the day by one revolution on its axis. To show you that
time is not really lost or gained by going around the world, suppose there
were twins, and one went one way around the world and gained a day, and
the other went the other way around the world and lost a day. Would they
no longer be twins, and would their birthdays be two days apart? And
suppose they were to keep on going around the world in opposite
directions, would there be years of difference in their ages after many
such Journeys? To ask such a question is to answer no.
suddenly pulled his watch out of his pocket, and uttered an exclamation of
dismay. "Here I am wasting my time, and an hour for an important
appointment has passed. You must excuse me!" And with some loss of
dignity he clambered into his car, and exceeded the speed limit as he
honked up the street.
parishioner stepped to the door and watched him disappear. "Wouldn’t
that sideswipe you!" he ejaculated. When he turned back into the
shop, the familiar feet were protruding from under the car over in the
corner. He busied himself with his work without another word.
CONTINUE - CHAPTER 4