Monday 2 November 2009

Another Forgotten Truth!

Only a few decades ago almost all Christian denominations in the UK would have held to the doctrine of the Christian Sabbath. Sadly only few would claim to teach this vital truth and in some ways our forefathers may not have done us justice. After World War II there was still some remnant of Victorian Christianity in the UK but Sunday was seen as list of what you could not do rather than a joyful day. Maybe this has caused many people to mock and pour scorn on this biblical doctrine, but this is hardly a righteous approach to go around undoing the work of the gospel because one does not rightly understand something or because a truth has been wrongly applied.
So, what is the Christian Sabbath? The fourth of the Ten Commandments states:

Exodus 20:8-11. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

The command is clear but, how does this apply to the Christian Church? The Westminster Shorter Catechism supplies the answer:

Q. 59. Which day of the week has God designated as the Sabbath?
A. From the beginning of the world until the resurrection of Christ God established the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath. From that time until the end of the world the first day of the week is the Christian Sabbath.

Sunday is the Christian Sabbath and it is a gift from God so that we can cease from our normal work with all good conscience and seek first God’s kingdom by worshipping God the whole day and by mediating on God’s covenant mercies. The Bible does not teach a half Lord’s Day and therefore we want to encourage Christian’s to attend church twice on Sundays. It is a day to turn away from normal worldly pleasures like the internet, TV, X factor, Sky sports etc and to nourish our souls spiritually. This is not legalism, this is God’s command and it is for our benefit. We need to be creative as families so that we include the whole family and find exciting things to do for the children so that they are not bored and so that they understand what the day is about. Check out an excellent sermon by Ted Donnelly on the subject

Here are a few reasons that explain the purpose of the Christian Sabbath.

1. Worship; this enables the whole family to worship the Triune God in public and in private.
2. Rest; physical and mental.
3. Obedience; the fourth commandment is partly ceremonial and partly civil that was fulfilled by Christ but there is an aspect of this commandment which is still binding on the consciences of Christians and the Book of Isaiah speaks of ‘calling the Sabbath a delight (Isaiah 58:13-14).
4. Remembrance; we remember weekly on this day that God is our creator and redeemer because this is the day that Christ was raised from the dead.
5. Sanctification; we set our lives apart from normal activity to be sanctified unto the Lord.
6. Spiritual refreshment; a time to let God work on us before we begin the week’s work.
7. An anticipation of heaven; hopefully this day gives us a taste of heaven on earth (Deut. 11:21)

Let us finish this short exhortation by listening to what the ‘Lord of the Sabbath’ has to say on this matter:

Isa 58:13 "If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the LORD honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words,
14 Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

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