Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Lord's Day - Made For Man!! Wow He Really Cares

The Lord’s Wonderful Day

Position Paper and Remarks Concerning the Sabbath

The Westminister Confession of Faith and the Sabbath (21:7,8)

"As it is of the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in his word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which in Scripture is called the Lord's day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.

This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparation of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs before-hand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words and thoughts about their worldly employment's and recreation; but also are taken up the whole time on the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of worship and necessity."

This doctrinal teaching concerning the Christian can be summarized in these points:

1. God has by natural and special revelation bound all men to observe the Sabbath,

2. That the weekly Sabbath was the seventh day in order of succession from creation to the resurrection of Christ,

3 The Sabbath is the first day of the week since the resurrection of Christ

God requires that the Sabbath be kept holy by:

(1) a proper remembrance,

(2) a due preparation in respect to the day,

(3) a resting from worldly employment's and recreations,

(4) committing private and public exercises of divine worship and

(5) by being diligent in works of piety, necessity, mercy, and worship

Concerning this command instruction is following:

" THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT IS: Exodus 20:8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Exodus 20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: Exodus 20:10 But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: Exodus 20:11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.”

“This is the commandment which most Christians ignore, or are unsure of, or do not believe exists for the New Testament believer. This is very sad for it is a creational command. The Sabbath was made for man not man for the sabbath. The sabbath was kept from Adam to Moses, and from Moses to the Lord Jesus, and then he, the Christ, took away all the false teachings that surrounded it and showed that is a good non-burdensome command.

The requirements of the commandment is that there is to be a day in the week, after six days of labor, to worship the Lord, to learn God's worship, and to rest from all the normal worldly activities. It is the day to do works of worship reading the word of God, pray, self-examination and partaking of the sacraments. It is a day to give of yourself to works of love in the areas of mercy and necessity. It is a day sanctified to the pious duty of our religion. The New Testament sabbath is the first day of the week, commonly called the lord's day. This day is to be kept holy until the end of the world. It is the Christian Sabbath. It is on this day which our Lord rose from the dead. The early church met for worship and alms giving on this most holy day. It is this day that the psalmist said to rejoice and be glad in.

The commandant is a call to remembrance. In our labor in six days with the "thorns and thistles" of life we may often forget to prepare for and keep this day set apart from all others. The commandment is to all the heads of institutions ie; families and businesses and others. All institutional leaders are bound to keep the commandment themselves but also they are to see that the day can be observed by all those under their authority by making sure that they order the business affairs so that the day is left free from labor and other pressures. In other words leaders and employers are to so run their businesses so that the employees are in no way hindered from keeping the christian sabbath. In the same way all the family is to keep the Sabbath and the father's must never direct their wives and children in any other way other than observing the Lord's day and keeping it holy. It has been rightly said that "as goes the observance of the sabbath so goes the spiritual life of the family and the church". This is a statement I agree with for if we do not set this day aside for our worship and reflection we will forget the other commandments and holy duties as Christians. We will forget to be thankful, our worldly employment's and pleasures will overtake us, and we will forget the god who bought us with his own blood. In not keeping the sabbath we greatly sin for we do not do the works and duties of pure worship, we think on the things of this world and we do not examine ourselves in our walk with the lord. In essence we go about living in our on way.”

Within our society there are no restraints placed upon men and women to keep them from not observing the Sabbath. In the United States society has left the Bible so that it is not the standard by which morals and ethics are established. This has happened for many reasons but I think there are three primarily. The first one is that the mainstream churches have accepted the liberal view of the Bible. That is that the Bible at best only contains the Word of God, they find that, truth is flexible in each culture, etc. This leads to a "this is what I believe" mentality because any 'absolutes" that there may be are up for question and debate. Secondly there are the premillinial dispensational churches that say that the Sabbath was the law of Moses, it was not a creational ordinance and that when Christ came the Sabbath was not to be observed any longer "law by Moses, Grace by Christ". Thirdly with the high pressure economics of the day we live in and the liberal or dispensational teaching of the Bible there are no restraints, within our society that would keep us from doing our own enjoyments and desires on the first day of the week. The economics philosophy of the United States pressures the people to both work and shop on Sunday. Many Christians in our churches pressure the restaurants to be open on Sunday just to feed them after the eleven or twelve o'clock service. They do not understand the Sabbath and the preparing for that day so they pay others to work for them, making it so that they could not go to worship even of they desired to.

A. The Sabbath is a perpetual ordinance for all people of all times and cultures as can be shown from the scriptures.

1.) We first see it at creation wherein the energetic God rested from the works of creation and sanctified the day. Genesis 2:3 states "And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made."

2.) Noah observed the Sabbath and the seven day cycle of the Sabbath in the Ark while waiting for the waters to abate from the earth from the flood. This giving evidence that the Sabbath or a seven day cycle of observance was in effect from creation till the flood and with Noah during the flood. Gen 8:10-12 " And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth [was] an olive leaf pluck off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth. And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more."

3.) The seventh day and Sabbath cycle of work and one day rest and worship observance of Sabbath was in effect in the wilderness wanderings prior to reaching Mt Sinai where the moral law of God was codified. We are told that the Israelites are told that the next day was a Sabbath observance and that on the sixth day there were to be two days worth of manna gathered. They were to order their affairs around a day of worship and of the sanctified Sabbath setting it apart for the Lord. 23 And he said unto them, This [is that] which the LORD hath said, To morrow [is] the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the LORD: bake [that] which ye will bake [to day], and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. 24 And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. 25 And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day [is] a Sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field. 26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, [which is] the Sabbath , in it there shall be none. 27 And it came to pass, [that] there went out [some] of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. 28 And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? 29See, for that the LORD hath given you the Sabbath , therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

Make note of what Matthew Henry states concerning this passage in regards to the Sabbath.:

"Here is mentioned of a seventh-day Sabbath. It was known, not only before the giving of the law upon mount Sinai, but before the bringing of Israel out of Egypt, even from the beginning, The setting apart one day in seven for holy work, and, in order to that, for holy rest, was ever since God created man upon the earth, and is the most ancient of the Divine laws. Appointing them to rest on the seventh day, he took care that they should be no losers by it; and none ever will be losers by serving God......This directs us to contrive family affairs, so that they may hinder us as little as possible in the work of the Sabbath. Works of necessity are to be done on that day; but it is desirable to have as little as may be to do, that we may apply ourselves the more closely to prepare for the life that is to come."

4.) There are many references to the Sabbath observance in the times of the kings and the prophets. Isaiah states that the proper observance of the Sabbath is of great blessing to the people of God. Isaiah 58:13-14 "If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath , [from] doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking [thine own] words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken [it]."

Again lets note the excellent comments of Matthew Henry: "The Sabbath is a sign between God and his professing people; his appointing it is a sign of his favour to them; and their observing it is a sign of their obedience to him.-We must turn from travelling on that day; from doing our pleasure on that holy day, without the control and restraint of conscience; or from indulging in the pleasures of sense. On sabbath days we must not follow our callings, or our pleasures. In all we say and do, we must put a difference between this day and other days. Even in Old Testament times the sabbath was called the Lord's day, and is fitly called so still; and for a further reason, it is the Lord Christ's day, Revelation 1:10 " I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day...." If we thus remember the sabbath day to keep it holy, we shall have the comfort and profit of it, and have reason to say, It is good to draw near to God."

5.) Christ, our example, entered the synagogue to worship with the people of God on the sabbath. We see this from such passages as Luke 4:16-18: And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and he entered, as his custom was, into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And he opened the book, and found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor: He hath sent me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovering of sight to the blind, To set at liberty them that are bruised, To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. Jesus never said that the Sabbath would end, he honored and kept it .

6.) Paul and the apostles in the Apostolic period also observed Sabbath day of worship. Acts 17:2 and Paul, as his custom was, went in unto them, and for three sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures" and Acts 13:14 But they, passing through from Perga, came to Antioch of Pisidia; and they went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.

7.) The Christian church has always kept the Sabbath (1Cor. 16:1) until recent times of one hundred less years or so, The Presbyterians have historically been sabbatarians from their grass roots teaching of the Bible and the Confession and Catechisms. The Anglican and Episcopal church are noted for their liturgy and the reading of the law frequently calling to obedience the believers that have been saved by the mercies of God in Christ. Then there are the Baptists. When they were confessional and not so "independent" they held the doctrine of the Christian Sabbath in high regard and a holy duty of all believers.

So as we can see so far the fourth commandment of God given to Moses at the Mount was not something new but was observed from the day it was sanctified through the Old Testament, at the time and in the life of Christ, and also observed by the apostles and the churches throughout the ages. Even today there are Christians that do remember the Sabbath. I do think it weighty enough for all churches everywhere to remember to keep that day holy as has been done from creation. Who are we in the twentieth century to think we can do away with what God planned for his creation in the beginning. The church needs to reform at this time in its history in this observance.

B. We Must Observe the Sabbath for it is a Moral law of God.

1.) Moral laws are always perpetual. Moral standards are never changing. It is in the moral law of God that we see the reflection of His character. Our God established Shabbat, he reinstated the command to remember Shabbat in the ten commandments given to Moses for His people on Mt. Sinai. The moral law of God, summarized in the 10 commandments, were from the beginning. There was never a time when it was proper to steal, kill, commit adultery, reject authority, etc (the last six commandments). Also there was never a time from creation that God was not to be worshipped and that in the way prescribe by Him in His word (the first four commandments). There was never a time when idols were OK, nor the Sabbath could be shunned. So we have the moral law established concerning the approach to God in regards to heart and mental understanding and in regards to time set aside for him on the day he has given to man (Sabbath) .

2.) The Sabbath is established in the character of God and therefore is a moral issue. God himself sanctified the Sabbath at creation.. The Sabbath has been remembered in every age since the dawn of time and has never been rescinded in God's word. The fact of the Sabbath being mentioned in the decalogue with the other moral laws of God for both worship and society underscores the importance thereof. The Sabbath is such a moral issue the Lord Jesus in the sermon on the mount ripped apart the legalism that was so established in the religious community of the Jews of that day and restated it to be a day established for man and not man for that day. To pass by it, and not to remember to keep that day holy is to sin and to cause others to sin. In our daily toil and tasks we find that we are not focused upon the Creator. We and our families, employees, students, etc. need to come away, renew the mind and worship the Creator in a focused manner. For that the Sabbath has been given.

3.) It was such an issue in the Old Covenant economy that with the profaning of the Sabbath there was a death penalty (Ex. 31:14). There was also a death penalty for the first, second, third, fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth commandment. That is not so now for the state carries the sword and not the church. However there is not to be a failure of gathering together on the Lord's day (Heb 10:24-25). Just as there is to be no breaking of the other commandments either for they all proclaim morality and ethics set and established by a holy God. If there is then there is to be correction by the local church in the form of discipline. Restoration is to be sought after for the erring brethren even in the neglect and or profaning of the Sabbath, the Lord's day.

C. What can we say concerning the reasons Christians give for not remembering the Sabbath?

1.) One group of Christians that object to a Sabbath for the Christian Church are the dispensationalists. Their statements go something like this: 'We are under grace and not under works. Works or law by Moses and grace by Christ. The Sabbath is for Israel and not for the bride of Christ." Those that expound on this view state that no where in the New Testament there is no mention of the Sabbath in relation to the keeping of it. If you follow that flow of thought then you would state that the fourth commandment was not moral. Therefore the Decalogue is not all moral law, just a law for the Israel in the Old Testament. Let me suggest that the people of the early New Testament era new the moral law of God.

There were teachers of the Sabbath with so much zeal that they had made laws themselves to make sure they did not forget and "break" Sabbath. The people then would have known about Sabbath. Jesus clarified the Sabbath as has been stated; Sabbath for man not man for the Sabbath. Also with the Apostle Paul takes the decalogue for granted as still in effect and he said in Romans 7:7 that if it had not been for the commandment that he would have not known lust. There are all the commandments either explicitly stated, implied, inferred, or clarified in the New Testament. We can never say grace did away with the moral law of God. The moral law of the decalogue is perpetual for all times and in all places and for all people. Moral law was never just for the Jews and not for the New Testament believers.

Another objection that comes from dispensational Christians is: Every day is to be holy unto the Lord. God has not set aside a special day for rest for daily toil and worship to Him. We would agree that every day is holy unto the Lord. However that does set aside the truth that God Himself set aside a special day in the Old Testament.

2.) There is another group of Christians that confuse the Sabbath with the spiritual rest of the New Covenant. The thought goes something like this : " The Sabbath was a type of the rest Christians would have in the Messiah. Now that we have the rest in Messiah we no longer need the Sabbath day as a type. Christ has come, we rest in Him and the shadow has gone." The answer to this is that Christ has shown us Covenant rest. We agree with that, however there is no warrant for that being all that the Sabbath was for. We are told better by the Lord when he states that the Sabbath was for created man. It was for more than a type or shadow pointing forward to our rest in Christ. It was a day sanctified by God in the dawn of time at creation for the remembrance of God to worship and rest in a focused manner. We do rest in our salvation in Christ. However there is no statement in the Scriptures which does away with the perpetual creational ordinance of the six days of labor and one day of rest and worship day principal.

D. What then is proper to do in the Lord's Day the Christian Sabbath

Isa. 58:13 If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, [and] the holy of Jehovah honorable; and shalt honor it, not : 14 then shalt thou delight thyself in Jehovah; and I will make thee to ride upon the high places of the earth; and I will feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it.

1.) We must prepare for worship by taking care of our daily chores before Sunday get here. The Lord's day should be the center of our week. We need a holy rest all the day so that we can focus on the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in worship and praise. This is the first thing that we can do and must do on the Lord's day. So let us take care of lawn work, shopping, housework, etc. prior to the day of worship. Most neglect in remembering the Lord's day comes from poorly planned living the other six days of the week.

2.) We are also to come away from our worldly enjoyments and recreations. We are not to do our own things on that day but are to do things that are set forth to do from the scriptures. We have already said we are to set aside the day as different from all others. We are called to do works of worship on this day. A minister and church leaders must lead in worship in the preaching, prayers and administration of the sacraments, music, etc.. We also are to do works of necessity. It is necessary to prepare food for the family, and take care of the sanitary conditions in the home. there is also the need to do works of mercy. There may be oxen in ditches, houses on fire, homeless that need meals cooked for them, etc. (Matt. 12:1-4).

Concluding Statement

We need to make sure that all we do on that day framed in these principals. I know that there probably many questions concerning other particulars concerning what to do and not to do on that day. I will not try to dictate those to you but rest assured if you prepare for this day and then decide to do works of worship, mercy and necessity (separated from convenience) you will find the day filled and find very little time to "doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking [thine own] words".

God bless you as you remember His day.


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