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Reformation to Restoration!

by Christine Egbert

The next time a Sunday-church-going, Christmas-tree-decorating, Easter-egg-dying friend insinuates your Sabbath-observing, Feast-of-YHVH-keeping walk of faith is out of step with mainstream Christianity–and therefore heretical–remind them of the Protestant Reformation.

WHO BEGAN IT?

After one thousand, five hundred and seventeen years under Roman Catholic Church rule, one bold priest nailed his theses to a door, and the world began to change.

The man: Martin Luther

The year: 1517.

The place: All Saints’ Church, WittenbergSaxony, of the unHoly Roman Empire.

And thus began the Protestant Reformation. The rest, as they say, is history.

WHO ELSE BRAVED HERESY?

But brave men of conviction, men like Jan Huss and John Wycliffe, fought for change. They placed their lives on the altar, long before 1517. All of these men were out of step with over 1500 years of what was then the mainstream of Christianity. Yet no one in Christianity today, except Roman Catholics, would claim they were wrong to stand against anti-Scriptural doctrine and tradition. Yet, strangely, these same fans of the Reformers, rant against us.

We, in the end-times, who rally under various flags—Messianic, Hebraic Roots, Netzarim—owe the Reformers a debt of gratitude.

Were they perfect? Far from it! And neither are we. But they were, and we are, being led by the Spirit–yesterday’s Reformers and today’s Restorers.

WE WILL USHER IN THE MESSIAH’S RETURN  

Repent! Turn back so your sins can be blotted out, so times of refreshing from YHVH may come. Then will He send the proclaimed One, Yeshua Messiah, who must remain in Heaven until the time of restoration of all things, spoken of by God from ages past through His holy prophets. Acts 3: 19-21 [Paraphrase mine!]

But as we contend for the Faith that was once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3), as we strive to restore the TORAH to the Body—His 7th day Sabbath, dietary law, and Appointed Feasts—let us not forget so great a cloud of witnesses.

They went before us to encourage us. Many were martyred. Many of us will be! But did you know—I’ll bet you didn’t—that some were seventh day Sabbath keepers?

SABBATH-KEEPERS, AGAIN?

In the late 1800s Dr. Samuel Kohn, the chief Rabbi of Budapest, Hungry, documented their existence. His documentation was translated into English by T. McElwain and B. Rook and included in their book Sabbatarians in Transylvania, Christian Churches of God, published in Australia in 1998.

Here is an excerpt from pages 10-11.

Already around the year 1530 Sabbatarians emerged in Bohemia… (they) also arose, soon thereafter in Silesia, Poland and Russia…where they were frequently confused with the Jews in the second half of this century and remain until today. We meet similar sects around 1545 among the Quakers in England. Several leaders and preachers of the Puritans, imbued with the Old Testament spirit, likewise raised the issue of reinstating the day of rest from Sunday to Saturday…”

STEPHEN MUMFORD

In England, Stephen Mumford and his family had attended the Bell Lane Church of God, (7th Day Sabbath keepers). But without like-minded believers with which to fellowship in New Port, Rhode Island, these Pilgrims attended the First Baptist Church … on Sundays. But each Saturday, at home, they kept the Sabbath.

Then, over time, having shared their convictions with members of this Sunday church, five Baptists believers left with the Mumfords to established the first official 7th Day Sabbath keeping congregation in the colonies on December 23, 1671.

By 1691, they’d gained a total of 40 members, from which generated new congregations. The first was in Hopkinton, then later in Piscataway and Shrewsbury, New Jersey. And by the late 1700, the congregation in Hopkinton had grown to nearly 1,000 Sabbath-keeping members.

THE REFORMERS AND CHRISTMAS

These are historical facts that inquiring minds should know.

The December 23, 1966 issue of US News and World Report ran an article about Christmas. Nothing strange there, you’re probably thinking. After all, it was their December issue. And you would be right.

Only this particular seasonal salute contained a bit of history of which even today’s most well-read Sabbath keepers probably aren’t aware. I certainly wasn’t, not until now.

Here’s the excerpt that made me go, “Wow!”

“…the earliest Christians simply weren’t interested in celebrating the Nativity…They ‘viewed birthday celebrations as heathen’. The third-century church father Origen [a Catholic] had declared it a sin to even think of keeping Christ’s birthday ‘as though he were a king, a pharaoh’.”

The Catholic Encyclopedia published in 1913AD writes: “…Origen, glancing perhaps at the discreditable imperial Natalitia, asserts (in Lev. Hom. viii in Migne, P.G., XII, 495) that in the Scriptures sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthday; Arnobius (VII, 32 in P.L., V, 1264) can still ridicule the “birthdays” of the gods.”

Now, I had known for some decades that during the first and second temple period, only pagans and not Israelites celebrated birthdays. Learning that Origen, a (Catholic) Church Father, not only concurred with them on this matter, but called it a sin, was quite an eye-opener!

THE SCOTTISH CHURCH REGARDING CHRISTMAS AND EASTER

In Knox, Works, Vol. vi, pp. 547-48.

The position of the Scottish Church was reaffirmed in 1566. Theodore Beza wrote to Knox, requesting Scottish approval for the Second Helvetic Confession (1566). The General Assembly in Scotland replied with a letter of general approval. Nevertheless, the Assembly could scarcely refrain from mentioning, with regard to what is written in the 24th chapter of the aforesaid Confession concerning the “festival of our Lord’s nativity, … passion, resurrection, ascension, …that these festivals at the present time obtain no place among us; for we dare not religiously celebrate any other feast-day than what the divine oracles prescribed.”

Then there is this from John Knox’s History of the Reformers:

“That God’s word damns your ceremonies, it is evident; for the plain and straight commandment of God is, “Not that thing which appears good in thy eyes, shalt thou do to the Lord thy God, but what the Lord thy God has commanded thee, that do thou: add nothing to it; diminish nothing from it” Now unless that ye are able to prove that God has commanded your ceremonies, this his former commandment will damn both you and them.” in Scotland (Ed. by William Croft Dickinson; New York: Philosophical Library, 1950), Vol. 1, p. 91

CHRISTMAS AND EASTER BANNED FROM THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND

David Calderwood [1575-1650], representing the Scottish ministries, asserted in reference to Christmas and Easter: “The Judaical days had once that honor, as to be appointed by God Himself; but the anniversary days appointed by men have not like honor. This opinion of Christ’s nativity on the 25th day of December was bred at Rome.”

David Calderwood goes on: “Nay, let us utter the truth, December-Christmas is a just imitation of the December-Saturnalia of the ethnic [heathen] Romans, and so used as if Bacchus [another name for the sun god], and not Christ, were the God of Christians.”

In 1647, the Puritans, who had recently gained power in the English Parliament, abolished Christmas and Easter. Here is an excerpt from that piece of legislation:

“For as much as the feast of the nativity of Christ, Easter, and other festivals, commonly called holy days, have been here-to-fore superstitiously used and observed; be it ordained that the said feasts, and all other festivals commonly called holy days be no longer observed as festivals.”

WHAT HAPPENED IN AMERICA?

In America, the Puritan movement also prevailed. In 1896, Puritan professor of history at Princeton Seminary, Samuel Miller, wrote “the Scriptures were the only infallible rule of faith and practice, and no rite or ceremony ought to have a place in the public worship of God, which is not warranted in Scripture. Not only does the celebration of non-biblical holidays lack a scriptural foundation, but the scriptures positively discount it.” [Miller, pgs. 65, 74]

The famous Charles Spurgeon, in a sermon preached on December 24th, 1871, declared:

“We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or English; and secondly, because we find no scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Savior; and, consequently, it’s observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority.” [C. H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 1871, pg. 697]

Here is an interesting excerpt from a book published in 1973, titled Presbyterians in the South.

“There was no recognition of either Christmas or Easter in any of the Protestant churches, except the Episcopal and Lutheran. For a full generation after the Civil War, the religious journals of the South mentioned Christmas only to observe that there was no reason to believe that Jesus was actually born on December 25th; it was not recognized as a day of any religious significance in the Presbyterian Church” (Ernest Trice Thompson, Presbyterians In the South, 1973, Vol. 2, pg. 434)

SO, THIS IS NOT NEW?

These are only a few of the stories—history is littered with them, if you will look—proof that “ours” is not a new movement of God. YHVH always has and always will have a remnant.

So whether yesterday’s Reformers or today’s Restorers, may we not grow weary of contending for the faith that was once delivered to the Saints.  Remember always that Yeshua Messiah, as stated in Acts 3, must remain in Heaven until the time of restoration of all things.

 

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