Sermon delivered September 12, 1998

by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

The Pope and Sunday Legislation

Pope John Paul II has a problem. His problem is that his church attendance is very poor. A recent survey in England estimates that churches there are losing 1,500 members each week. (Waymarks, Lewis Stout, June 1998) To underpin the sagging participation he wrote a letter. Not just an ordinary letter. But an Apostolic Letter! An Apostolic Letter is an infallible message, supposedly.

This epistle dated May 31, 1998 is called: Dies Domini, which means "The Day of The Lord", or the "Lord's Day". This is an epistle about the Lord's Day. In it he contends that Sunday is the true Lord's Day and not the Sabbath.

Does God have a day? Yes! Revelation 1:10 On the Lord's Day I was in the spirit,... The King James says: I was in the spirit on the Lord's day,... What day is the Lords Day? Well, this doesn't say. It doesn't say whether its the first day or the second day or the seventh day. So we turn to Mark 2:27,28 and it says this: Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath. Now that's pretty clear, isn't it? It says the Sabbath is the Lord's day. Jesus is the lord of the Sabbath. But it doesn't tell you which day is the Sabbath.

What day is the Sabbath? Well, let's go back over to Hebrews 4 and without ever going to the Old Testament you can show that the Sabbath, the Lord's Day, is indeed the seventh day of the week. Hebrews 4:4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work." And in Verses 8-11 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, Amen! So according to the New Testament the seventh day of the week is God's Sabbath and the Sabbath is the Lord's Day. Just as simple as that. And what day is the seventh day of the week? It's Saturday.

The pope, in his letter, correctly states that Sunday keeping came into the early church over a span of many centuries. He correctly links the Sabbath to creation as the Bible does. He also says the Sabbath is not a ceremonial regulation. So far so good.

But suddenly, in this letter, he begins calling Sunday the Sabbath. He just lost me right there. For this change He gives no Bible evidence. Here he breaks from the Bible only, and stands on Catholic tradition as the basis for Sunday observance.

There's a little book, magazine that I subscribe to called Sunday put out by the Lord's Day Alliance. Spring issue, 1998. It says here on page six: "Bring back Sunday Laws." A whole article here. Very interesting. They want "blue laws." Does the Pope? The Pope says that the Sunday Keeping needs greater regulation. Here his letter says that "Sunday Rest is the worker's right which the STATE MUST GUARANTEE." - (Section # 66) That's heavy, isn't it? He says rest is an "Obligation to ensure" so that everyone has a day of rest.

Then he says: "Therefore, also in the particular circumstances of our own time, Christians will naturally STRIVE to ensure that CIVIL LEGISLATION respects their duty to keep Sunday Holy" (#67). And you wonder what kind of civil legislation is he thinking about. Readers are not left to doubt what type of legislation he wants because he points to the example of Sunday Laws passed by Constantine in 321 AD. It's very clear what the Pope is wanting.

What is the Pope saying? He is hinting at a Sunday Law, a national Sunday Law requiring Sunday rest provisions. He's hinting at a world Sunday Law. Should we be concerned? Very much! Remember this pope is the one who helped to topple the Iron Curtain. He is a powerful individual.

Somebody handed me a quotation from the first volume of the Testimonies p. 182 (EG White) "The world is filled with storm and war and variance yet under one head, the Papal power, the people will unite to oppose God in the person of His witnesses." Under one head. Who will that one head be? She says, "the Papal power." One head. It's coming, isn't it? So the Pope is hinting at a national Sunday Law. Should Seventh-day Adventists be concerned? Yes, we should be! Remember that this Pope not a namby-pamby Pope. He's very strong. He is the one who help to topple the Iron Curtain. He is a powerful individual.

Recently the pope wanted to go to Cuba, and Castro said, "No!". Then the Pope said that if he could come maybe I could do something for you. And so it was agreed that the Pope would come and Castro would allow the visit. He made a deal with Castro. The Vatican would influence America and Castro would allow the visit. Strangely several days after the Pope went back home, our U.S. Government unexpectedly relaxed restraints on Cuba. Is the Pope powerful? Yes, he is. The Pope's 100 page letter is only the tip of the approaching iceberg. No as Christians living in the last days, we're on board the Titanic. We ought to be watching Jesus, but we also ought to be aware of the icebergs. This is the tip of an approaching iceberg.

Revelation 13:2,3 ...The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. That's what's happening today. The beast is the Papacy.

Eventually any violators will be Punished as heretics. James Madison said: "It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties." The Pope's appeal for Sunday Laws should reverberate like a cannon shot across the bow of God's true church, which seems full of sleepy snoring Christians! It is high time to wake up. The night is far spent. The day of Jesus' coming is at hand.

Now, to know the signs of the times won't save you. But to know Jesus will save you. But you need to be aware of the icebergs.

Luke 4:21 This day this scripture is fulfilled in your ears. That could be happening today. Jesus' second coming is Imminent!

We have a problem, not just with the Pope, but with anybody who seeks to force worship. Let me clarify something. The Adventist church loves Catholic people. But we have a problem when anybody undertakes to force others to worship. Remember what the Pope said in 1991 in the encyclical, Centesimus annus, he said, "Sunday rest is a right which the State must guarantee." That's heavy.

Jerry Falwell said that the separation of church and state is a "bogus" concept. Pat Robertson insists that the wall of separation of church and state must be torn down! They think it is high time the state help the church achieve its goals. We don't agree with that. We think that church and state should be separate.

So, how are folk responding to the request for Sunday keeping? July 7, Detroit News headline: POPE'S CALL FOR WORSHIP WELCOMED!

Church attendance in Italy, which is the heart of Catholicism, averages 22% of their membership. That would be about like us having an attendance of a hundred and fifty people (of our 741). Not too many! Likewise, many Protestant churches around the world are mostly empty on Sunday. So with the Pope's appeal here, instead of falling like a stick, church attendance would rise like a rocket. It would really make a difference.

The director of the Lord's Day Alliance of the United States, Jack Lowndes in a letter dated March 30, 1998 said: "Our research indicates that the decline in morality in the United States parallels the DECLINE in observing the Lord's day." We need to get folks back to church on Sunday. And that would stop the decline of morality. They are ecstatic with the Pope's call for Sunday Legislation.

Sunday Legislation is viewed as a mechanism which might "save" America from its wild fall into evil and sin. Let's get back in church. And America is falling, isn't it. Wildly. Free-fall into sin. Look at Hollywood, even look at the White House. Wherever you look. It is felt that any knowledgeable patriotic American would surely support the Pope's call for Sunday legislation.

But Seventh-day Adventists do not. What does that make us? And it's not because we don't want people to attend church. It's not that we don't want to stop the moral slide in America. Not because we think America is headed the right direction as evidenced by its wickedness. But because Liberty is dear to the hearts of Adventists. No law should be made with respect to the support or rejection of religion. We believe there should be a wall between church and state.

Who would make a Sunday Law? Congressmen are Lawmakers. Out of 534 congressmen, 148 are Roman Catholic (28%). Another 26% are evangelical and connected with the Christian Coalition. They're together. The votes are there. Only time and God's will stand between us and a National Sunday Law.

Daniel predicts that the day will come when some great power will attempt to change the law of God as it relates to time. Daniel 7:25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time.

The Roman Catholic church claims to have changed the only law, the only commandment that deals with time. The only commandment that deals with time is the 4th, the Sabbath commandment.

From the Convert's Catechism of Catholic Doctrine: "Q: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday? Answer: We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea (AD 336) transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday."

From 538 to 1798 when the pope was taken prisoner, the world was basically held down by this power. The saints were worn out by the papacy. By wars, crusades, massacres, inquisitions and persecutions millions lost their lives.

But a deadly wound was inflicted on this power. Finally Protestants were able to worship in freedom. And the Bible says that someday that deadly wound will b healed. Do you think it's been healed? It sounds like it has. It's all healed over. Therefore we have a problem.

Let's read this whole section in Revelation 13:1-3 And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon (Satan or Pagan Rome) gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. (Papal Rome gave its support and power to Papal Rome.) One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast (the Papal power).

Verse 8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.

So the whole world is going to be divided two courts: those who worship the beast, and those who worship God.

Now, Revelation 13:11-18 Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb (I believe that is the United States of America), but he spoke like a dragon. He exercised (Look at all these power words in here.) all the AUTHORITY of the first beast on his behalf, and MADE the earth and its inhabitants WORSHIP the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And he performed great and miraculous signs, even CAUSING fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men.(I don't know if we've seen this yet or not.) Because of the signs he was given POWER to do on behalf of the first beast, he DECEIVED the inhabitants of the earth. HE ORDERED them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was GIVEN POWER to give breath to the image of the first beast, (The image of the first beast is Apostate Protestantism) so that it could SPEAK AND CAUSE ALL who refused to worship the image to be killed. (A lot of power here.) He also FORCED EVERYONE, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666.

Friends, we are living in a time of rapid changes of the last days. These are grand and awful times. The stock market is gyrating. Congress is poised to possibly impeach our president. Russia is melting down. These are serious times. Add to this the possible retaliation that might come to America as a result of our air raid on terrorists. I believe we are justified in calling this the crisis of the last days.

Net 98 is indeed scheduled at the right time. We are going to tell the message to the world at the time when the world needs this message more than ever before. We have the right message. The time is right now. With 2000 locations for Net 98 in America and 5000 throughout the rest of the world, the truth is poised to go out in 70 languages to the world. This is not only the largest effort our church has ever made, I believe it is the largest event of its type in the history of Christianity. This is amazing what is going on here. It all begins October 9. And our church here is one of the sites.

    As God's people:
  1. We must recognize the seriousness of the day in which we live. We must remember those icebergs are out there.
  2. We must zealously stand for the truth. Now is not the time to be back-pedaling.
  3. We must have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. If you don't have that it doesn't matter if you have the Bible memorized. You must have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
  4. We must quickly work to earnestly warn our neighbors and warn the world. We don't have much longer.
  5. We must pray as never before for power to live the Christian life, power to witness, for power to stand, in every way to honor God.
  6. We must saturate ourselves with God's holy word.

Adventists used to be a people of the Book. Should we still be a people of the Book? Have you read the Bible this week? Do you watch the new while you're eating breakfast? You ought to be reading the Bible every chance you get. While you're eating, while you're worshiping. Saturate yourself with the Word of God.

Now may be the time to dispose of some of our extra possessions and give the money to help finish the work. This could be it. We don't know. But if it is the time of our Lord's visitation, are you, really truly ready? The final event will be rapid. We must quickly do what we have to do.

Luke 21:28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. I believe we're at that time.

Next Sabbath, Doug Bennett, who has done a tremendous amount of research on this preparation, next Sabbath, "The Woman Beast Rider". An amazing sermon. You will want to be here. Don't miss any of these.

Opening Hymn #183: "I will sing of Jesus love."
Scripture: Daniel 7:24-27
Closing Hymn: #483: "I need thee every hour."

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