By Colleen Tinker
On November 28, 2017, the Daily Wire released a news story that Poland has voted “to proclaim Sunday a day of rest and phase out shopping on Sunday by 2020.”
This vote is not yet law, but “the Polish senate is expected to pass the bill which will be signed into law by President Duda.”
This story, predictably, has sounded alarm bells among Adventists who live in expectation of the “Sunday laws” which Ellen White said would usher in the Time of Trouble and the persecution of seventh-day Sabbath observers. In fact, we at Life Assurance Ministries have received emails asking if we think Ellen White might have been right.
What is this Polish law?
Before we address the issue of Ellen White’s veracity, let’s look at the details of the proposed Polish legislation.
First, this proposed legislation is not a law about worship or “holy time”. Moreover, it is to be applied incrementally. It will not “affect all businesses and will be carried out gradually,” reports LifeSiteNews.com which is quoted in the Daily Wire piece. Beginning in March, 2013, and extending until December, 2018, stores will be open two Sundays a month: the first and the last. In 2019, shops will be open only on the last Sunday of the month, and in 2020, they will be closed on all but eight Sundays per year.
Significantly, this legislation will not apply to owner-operated stores, and “small stores in gas stations and railway stations will also be permitted to open on Sundays.”
Father Pawel Rytel-Andrianik, “spokesman for the Polish Bishops Conference”, says: “The bishops underscore the need to restore Sunday to society as a day of rest and time of building family ties as well as strengthening social relationships. They point out also that Sunday rest cannot be a luxury for a chosen few but is an integral part of equal treatment for all employees. Therefore, there is an urgent need to make all Sundays free from work, just as is already the case in many European Union countries.”
This proposed legislation, in other words, seeks to bring Poland into harmony with much of the European Union. Its purpose is not primarily about worship or “holy time” but guarantees a consistent time off work for the work force.
Opposition to the bill, however, comes from economists. A Warsaw-based economist and entrepreneur, Piotr Zapalowicz, is quoted as saying, “Some people will lose their jobs or part of their income, especially those employed on hourly wages,” and he pronounced the government’s proposal “a disgrace” that “has nothing to do with Catholicism.”
Economic strategist Michal Dybula from the Bank BGZ BNP Paribas, “told Bloomberg that ‘any restriction of economic activity, such as retail trade, results in weaker economic growth.’”
What About Ellen White?
Perhaps the first thing Adventists need to remember is that Ellen White was clear about how the end-time Sunday laws would go into effect. The United States would lead the way; after that, the other nations would follow. Thus, Adventists have been taught for generations that a “national Sunday law” would be the sign that the end was at hand. A “universal Sunday law” would quickly follow, when Sabbath-keepers around the world would be persecuted for honoring God’s true Sabbath.
In her sixth volume of Testimonies for the Church, p. 19, EGW says:
Brethren and sisters, would that I might say something to awaken you to the importance of this time, the significance of the events that are now taking place. I point you to the aggressive movements now being made for the restriction of religious liberty. God’s sanctified memorial has been torn down, and in its place a false sabbath, bearing no sanctity, stands before the world. And while the powers of darkness are stirring up the elements from beneath, the Lord God of heaven is sending power from above to meet the emergency by arousing His living agencies to exalt the law of heaven. Now, just now, is our time to work in foreign countries. As America, the land of religious liberty, shall unite with the papacy in forcing the conscience and compelling men to honor the false sabbath, the people of every country on the globe will be led to follow her example. Our people are not half awake to do all in their power, with the facilities within their reach, to extend the message of warning.
In 1888 EGW wrote this:
There is a crisis at hand. In place of the law of the Ten Commandments will be shoved in the Sunday law. This crisis is coming upon us. This nation that has been blessed so many years with liberty and prosperity; this nation that has enjoyed religious liberty so far beyond that of other nations until it has become an asylum for the oppressed; this nation that God has given advantages over every other nation on the face of the earth; this nation that God has honored and blessed; what are the people of this nation doing?…
When this law does go into effect, it is then that the nation’s ruin will take place. It is then that it becomes universal that the law of God is made void by this nation of boasted liberty! What then? Why, Satan has done just what he wanted to. The man of sin has exalted himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped (Ms20–1888.38).
In other words, the national and universal Sunday-laws that Ellen White predicted were not going to be initiated in Europe. They would begin in the United States, since the USA, according to her, is the world leader of religious liberty and “asylum for the oppressed.”
This proposed law in Poland, in contrast, does not fit Ellen White’s scenario. It is not the first such law—much of the European Union already has mandated Sunday-closures for businesses—and it is not the United States. Moreover, this law does not mandate worship. It does not forbid people from going to church on the seventh day, and it does not force anyone to go to church on Sunday. This is not a law “forcing the conscience and compelling men to honor the false sabbath,” as EGW said.
If one believes that Ellen White is a true prophet of God, then this event in Poland is irrelevant and does not signal the “universal Sunday law”. The sequence and details of this Polish mandate do not fit Ellen White’s sequence for the end times. This law is not a law demanding worship on Sunday nor denying worship on Saturday. If one actually believes EGW, then Poland’s legislation in this matter should not signal “fulfilled prophecy”.
If, on the other hand, one believes that Poland’s Sunday legislation is a “sign of the end” and marks a supposed coming universal Sunday law, one has to ask if EGW actually predicted a truthful scenario. How can a true prophet of God deliver a time-line for the faithful that proves to be wrong? If her timeline proves to be wrong, how can one believe that her prediction that the final mark of division between the saved and the lost will be whether or not one keeps the seventh-day Sabbath?
A true prophet of God cannot deliver a prediction that does not come true. As God said in Deuteronomy 18:21–22:
You may say in your heart, “How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?”
When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”
Even more that figuring out whether Poland’s and the European Union’s Sunday mandates are fulfillments of Ellen White’s prophecy, however, is the real bottom line: any prophet who teaches a gospel different from the gospel found in the New Testament is a false prophet.
The biblical gospel of the Lord Jesus is clear. Jesus said,
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment; but has passed out of death into life (Jn. 5:24).
For God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn. 3:17–18).
Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (Jn. 6:28–29).
Paul and Silas said the to Philippian jailer, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your house” (Acts 15:31).
John wrote this about salvation:
And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 Jn. 5:11–13).
Salvation is entirely dependent upon whether or not we have placed the full weight of our trust and belief in the Lord Jesus and His finished work. The law and the seventh-day Sabbath are not “testing truths”. Only our belief or unbelief count when it comes to salvation.
When we trust Jesus, He imputes His own personal righteousness to our account (Phil. 3:9), and we pass at that moment from death to life (Jn. 5:24). We are sealed by the Holy Spirit who guarantees our eternal inheritance (Eph. 1:13-–14), and the Father adopts us as His true heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:15–17; Gal. 4:4–7).
The Sabbath absolutely has no biblical role whatsoever to play in our salvation or in our sanctification. The seventh-day Sabbath is not the “seal of God”, nor is it the sign that we have the seal of God. Moreover, worshiping on Sunday does not mark us to receive the mark of the beast.
A prophet who insists that the seventh-day Sabbath is a mark of the true believer is a false prophet. Nothing she says should be feared or taken seriously. Ellen White taught a false gospel and a false scenario for the last days. Whatever human governments may mandate, God never evaluates the faithful on the basis of days they keep or do not keep.
The only mark of salvation is whether or not we have believed God’s Son and have been born again. Ellen White is not to be feared, and Poland’s legislation is not a cause for clinging to our former prophet. In these last days, God has one Spokesman for us: He has “spoken to us in His Son” (Heb. 1:2a).