Chapter 3 - part 1

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 garage.
          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 mine."
          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."
          "I’ll answer if I can," invited Richards humbly.
          "Don’t you 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.)

Chapter 3 - part 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."
          "Speaking of 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."
          "But everybody 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.

Chapter 3 - part 3

          "But God 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 letter."
          The respectable 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 of Himself."

Chapter 3 - part 4

          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.
          "Anyway, my 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 week."
          "As to 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 Saturday.

Chapter 3 - part 5

          "If time 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.’"

Chapter 3 - part 6

          "You do 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 15:9.
          "If everybody 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."

Chapter 3 - part 7

          "Yes," put in Sam, "but I’ve heard you lose a day or gain a day when you go around the world."
          "That’s 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.
          The preacher 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.
          His auto-repairing 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.


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