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The Law of God discuss The Sabbath and Friday-Focused Cultures in the Theological Forum forums; Before I ask this question, let me say that I do hold to teaching of the Confession that the first day of the week is ...

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    Covenant Joel is offline. Puritanboard Sophomore
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    The Sabbath and Friday-Focused Cultures

    Before I ask this question, let me say that I do hold to teaching of the Confession that the first day of the week is the Christian Sabbath. Nevertheless, due to where I will be living in the future, I have some very specific questions about keeping the Sabbath in cultures where the first day of the week is not the standard day off of work. So please don't just tell me to read the Confession, but if you have something to contribute regarding how this all plays out, please offer your thoughts as I'm really wrestling through it.

    (1) I will be living before long (PM me if you want details) in a country where Friday is the standard day off of work. Sunday is a normal work day like any other. Further, there will be very few believers where I'm going. Accordingly, one of the difficulties I'm facing is how to hold to Sabbatarian convictions in such an environment. How would you approach such an issue? Friday is the day for religious observances, so it provides a natural way to take a Sabbath (unlike those who say, 'Any day can be the Sabbath?' and then never observe one at all), but it does not seem to fit the Confession to do so.

    (2) How do you think the teaching of Romans 14 fits into this question (observing Friday as the Sabbath)? Knox Chamblin, in Paul and the Self, argues that Romans 14 teaches that this would be possible. E.g., see the quote below:

    One can esteem all days alike (as just indicated) and at the same time recognize that human beings as creatures urgently need the Sabbath rest. At the same time, the Sabbath rest must not be riveted to a particular day, as though the efficacy of the rest depended on its being observed on this day instead of that. But what of persons who stand, as I do, within a tradition that identifies the first day of the week as the Christian Sabbath, the day now appointed for rest as surely as the seventh used to be? Such persons may freely relinquish the freedom, or the right, to choose another day. Their conscience has not been violated; their understanding of Paul remains unchanged. Yet it is to Christ alone that they are bound, not to a view of the fourth commandment; and they make their choice, both because it is convenient and also in genuine support of believers who are otherwise persuaded. (Paul and the Self, 150-151)
    How would you respond to this view of Romans 14 if you find it inaccurate?

    Thank you. These are not hypotheticals, but something I will be facing faster than my mind and heart are dealing with the question.
    Joel
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    Matthew Tringali's Avatar
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    I have always understood the Sabbath to be given to the Church... i.e. it is a corporate command, not merely individual command. This becomes especially important because we are not only called to rest from our work, but to worship together as the corporate body of Christ. This, of course, is not possible if we are all choosing our own day to do so. But, you already get this point.

    As for Romans 14, I would disagree with the conclusions of Chamblin in that regard. I think it is clear that Paul is very specifically describing those converts who still feel the need to follow Jewish law, then we should not be a stumbling block to them by rubbing the freedom we have to not follow the Jewish law in their face. I think this can, of course, have other applications outside of the intent for the original audience. Any conviction which would seem to add to God's law (e.g. drinking alcohol) would be a similar application. However, something that would most definitely not be a way to apply that verse is to attempt to say there is freedom with regard to days or practice in regard to God's laws, not only for Jews, but also in the new covenant. I think the Sabbath falling on the first day of the week (and this very clearly means Sunday by any reading of the Scriptures) most certainly falls in this category and is not something which can be allotted freedom via Romans 14.

    Having said all of that... Joel, it is quite easy to talk about God's laws from where I sit in my comfortable culture that easily permits me to not work on Sunday's. Your unique situation sounds challenging and I pray for wisdom on your part, however it may come.
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    I believe that the pattern of the disciples and of the early church meeting on the first day of the week is more than merely descriptive, but provides a normative pattern for Christians today.

    As the Lord raises up believers from among the people you are ministering to, I believe there will be a need to assimilate them into the Universal Church and have them identify with Christ and His Body and over 2,000 years of history. There are many contextualized fellowships that meet on Fridays and some even have done away with the ordinances for fear of being identified as "Christian," but I believe that giving baptism and meeting on Sunday, though these things may be a stretch for some in your environment, are essential practices for new believers from any context.

    Valid reasons for working on the Sabbath would be for works of mercy and works of necessity and I believe you are in the best position to decide whether you can call your Sunday activities works of mercy or of necessity.

    Having seekers or new converts meet on Friday for prayer and study on Fridays is great, however, I would also bless them, too, at some point (maybe not immediately) by introducing them to worship on the first day of the week like the early church and subsequent generations have done as a visible show of unity with the people of God.
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    py3ak's Avatar
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    James Durham argues that since the pattern is six days and one day, that the day of rest could only fall on the first or last day of the week: otherwise it would be breaking up the weekly cycle. Well, the day of rest has already been on the last day and was moved; the first day is now the only legitimate option.

    I realize that doesn't help with putting that into practice, but it does give an additional line of argument to bolster conviction.
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    My parents are living in Israel, and therefore are currently in the situation you describe. They still keep the Sabbath on Sunday, though the culture around them keeps it on Saturday. This has created some difficulties; for instance when enrolled in classes, they have missed the first day of class every week; but they feel strongly that the Sabbath is to be kept on the first day of the week and not on any other, so they make it work. Thankfully, the Free Presbyterian Church in Jerusalem does hold services on Sunday (unlike most Christian/Messianic congregations in Israel), so they are able to attend services on the Lord's Day as they would at home.
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    Joel,

    I really do not have any answers, but I wanted to say that I am praying for you during your time in the Middle East.
    B

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    One can esteem all days alike (as just indicated) and at the same time recognize that human beings as creatures urgently need the Sabbath rest.
    This was probably close to Mr. Calvin's early view, at least. It's not the Confessional view, however.

    And, by derivation, it doesn't quite get to a complete biblical view.

    All days are in one sense all the same (God made them and wants us to "rest in him," spiritually). But God's example from creation, and embodied in the Ten Commandments, and in the particularized civil law given Israel was that one day was for "ceasing" and to be "holy" (set apart). The other days were for laboring, and in that sense, were "common."


    At the same time, the Sabbath rest must not be riveted to a particular day,

    For the church universal, practically, it must be because there needs to be a common time of corporate worship. There is no indication of a 1/7 fractured grouping of believers, each to their own day, chosen to their own convenience.as though the efficacy of the rest depended on its being observed on this day instead of that.

    This is true, to a certain extent. It is more to a 1/7 proportion of time. Yet, common worship time requires regulation of it. Remember, God provided for the whole nation of Israel on sabbath when everyone rested on the same day- and they were under penalty of death. So, somehow, by faith, God provided (and allowed necessity and mercy as established exceptions, even then, and from the beginning).

    But what of persons who stand, as I do, within a tradition that identifies the first day of the week as the Christian Sabbath, the day now appointed for rest as surely as the seventh used to be? Such persons may freely relinquish the freedom, or the right, to choose another day. Their conscience has not been violated; their understanding of Paul remains unchanged. Yet it is to Christ alone that they are bound, not to a view of the fourth commandment; and they make their choice, both because it is convenient and also in genuine support of believers who are otherwise persuaded. (Paul and the Self, 150-151)

    Because it is convenient for you is not really the basis of "corporate worship." Elders, teachers, pastors have to be available that day for ministry of Word and sacrament.


    ---------- Post added at 02:44 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:36 PM ----------

    It's not quite right to say there is to be a common religious day of worship.

    One will stand out like a sore thumb if one worships on Sunday when the culture has a false religion worship day of Friday set out.

    But such is our calling as believers, not to conform to the patterns of this world. To some extent, to transform things by extending God's Kingdom, trusting Him for the results.

    You're in a "tough" spot, but many have gone before you... and it's not dependent on you.

    The closest experience I had to this was being the only person of a certain ethnicity on an Island. On the sabbath, I sat in around my hut, read the Bible, prayed and singed. A large crowd of children gathered outside and wanted me to come play, talk with them. I engaged them about God and explained a bit of how I rested on Sunday.

    After doing this consistently (only there a couple weeks), they seemed to come to respect it at least, and ask questions (other days of the week).

    Who knows what God will do with your example.

    Maybe some will even be attracted to something that is not 'status quo' (not a perfect reason, yet one God may use). We're not a false religion copycat, nor do we accept its false terms or constraints.... not if we somehow, operate by faith.

    Do not be afraid!

    (Blessings, dear brother, and keep us posted)

    ---------- Post added at 02:54 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:44 PM ----------

    Romans 14 would counsel us to sometimes give up things that are lawful for the sake of the witness. Maybe for the sake of our own conviction of witness, really.

    But giving up the one day in seven the church universal commonly now since our Lord's resurrection sets aside as holy to cease from our ordinary work and recreation of the other days, so that we prioritize the worship of Him all that day.... is not one of them.
    Scott
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    Post Tenebras Lux; "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." - Revelation 21:4

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    Covenant Joel is offline. Puritanboard Sophomore
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    @Matthew, thanks for your thoughts. That is helpful on Romans 14, but I will need to study it more in light of that and Chamblin's comments. Thank you as well for the prayers.

    @Pergamum, thanks for the immensely practical advice. I do agree that the pattern is descriptive, and it does seem that this should be something that should be introduced, though perhaps not immediately. Though regarding my own activities prior to that point I will, as you say, have to evaluate my own conscience.

    @Ruben, thanks for that thought. I'm not sure that I quite follow though. That is, if Friday were the day off, then there would still be a pattern of working six days, then resting one, then working six, etc. This is not to say that I think the day is unimportant, as I do agree with the confession, but I don't quite see the reasoning there.

    @Sharon, thanks for that as well. That is obviously quite a similar situation. The big difference would be that there will likely be no congregation per se where we are. But hopefully that will develop.

    @Boliver, thanks for the prayers. Perhaps that is where I should be spending more time on this issue as well.

    @Scott, thanks for your thoughts as well. I'll have to spend more time with Romans 14 on this issue. There is certainly a uniqueness about Sunday worship that speaks volumes to the watching world, and thus I ask these questions because I don't want to just throw something so valuable (and commanded, obviously) away.

    To all, thanks for the responses. If you have any more interaction with Romans 14 (or some good resources dealing with this question from that chapter), feel free to post. I'm definitely going to spend more time with it over the coming months.
    Joel
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    CharlieJ is offline. Inactive User
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    We do know that the early Christians worshiped on the first day of the week. I wonder, what was the status of that day beforehand? Was it already a day of rest, or was it like any other? Did Christians actually keep the whole day as a "Sabbath" similar to how the Jews kept Saturday? IOW, did the early Romans know the Christians as the people who don't work on the first day? I don't remember that ever coming up in the treatises by Celsus or Pliny or Porphyry, but I haven't read them in a while or looking for that.
    Charlie Johnson
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    Another thing that might be helpful is looking at the normative way the Gospel and discipling went out to the pagan cultures of the world, especially as described in the book of Acts.

    While there might be occasional exceptions, Christians did what they did, e.g. worship on the first day of the week amongst Christian Jews and Gentiles. It did not spread by becoming like the cultures around it (pagan ones), but by being what it is.

    The whole notion of contextualizing everything to make Christianity "acceptable" to unbelievers does not comport well with the biblical, New Testament examples of the way the faith spread.

    One knowing the fourth commandment could just as easily rationalize going to NASCAR races on Sunday with an unbelieving friend or new believer to not offend them. The rationalization being they can't handle the implications of sabbath or won't be open if they don't see the believer as "one of them."

    While often done with good intentions, in the main, they water down the effectiveness of the church, create confusion and do not follow the general biblical pattern, at least.

    And when Romans 14 is put in context of other Scripture, it is that all Christians ought be "growing up," not holding to their weaknesses, but facing the realities of sin, repentance and redemption that leads us toward clinging dependence on His mercy, every day.

    That will work in this culture. Among as many as the Lord our God shall call.

    Being part of that can only be astonishing, and I wish you well.
    Scott
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    @Ruben, thanks for that thought. I'm not sure that I quite follow though. That is, if Friday were the day off, then there would still be a pattern of working six days, then resting one, then working six, etc. This is not to say that I think the day is unimportant, as I do agree with the confession, but I don't quite see the reasoning there.
    There would still be a similar pattern, but the working days would be broken up: instead of the day of rest coming at the beginning or the end of the week it would come in the middle. I suspect that argument sounds unusual because we are so used to defining days by what we typically do on them, rather than by their place within the week.
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    Covenant Joel is offline. Puritanboard Sophomore
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlieJ View Post
    We do know that the early Christians worshiped on the first day of the week. I wonder, what was the status of that day beforehand? Was it already a day of rest, or was it like any other? Did Christians actually keep the whole day as a "Sabbath" similar to how the Jews kept Saturday? IOW, did the early Romans know the Christians as the people who don't work on the first day? I don't remember that ever coming up in the treatises by Celsus or Pliny or Porphyry, but I haven't read them in a while or looking for that.
    This is a question that I have wondered about for some time. Any ideas about how to research this a little? The only line of reasoning I've heard related to this is that there was a time of transition, as they still kept the seventh day restrictions for a while as they moved towards Sunday becoming the Christian Sabbath.

    ---------- Post added at 11:48 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:45 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott1 View Post
    Another thing that might be helpful is looking at the normative way the Gospel and discipling went out to the pagan cultures of the world, especially as described in the book of Acts.

    While there might be occasional exceptions, Christians did what they did, e.g. worship on the first day of the week amongst Christian Jews and Gentiles. It did not spread by becoming like the cultures around it (pagan ones), but by being what it is.
    Two thoughts: (1) Do we really have much info about how Christians were known by their 1st-day Sabbath keeping in Acts? As Charlie brought up, do we have evidence of such? Did they immediately stop working on the first day? (2) What occasional exceptions do you refer to?

    The whole notion of contextualizing everything to make Christianity "acceptable" to unbelievers does not comport well with the biblical, New Testament examples of the way the faith spread.
    That's probably a mischaracterization of the term contextualization it is technical sense, though certainly some have applied it to water down the gospel or biblical patterns. We always contextualize, the question is how.

    ---------- Post added at 11:51 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:48 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by py3ak View Post
    There would still be a similar pattern, but the working days would be broken up: instead of the day of rest coming at the beginning or the end of the week it would come in the middle. I suspect that argument sounds unusual because we are so used to defining days by what we typically do on them, rather than by their place within the week.
    I sort of see your point, I suppose. But if another day were essentially the first day of the week, then I don't see a whole lot of difference. But that's not the situation we're given, so I don't know that it matters much.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott1 View Post
    Another thing that might be helpful is looking at the normative way the Gospel and discipling went out to the pagan cultures of the world, especially as described in the book of Acts.

    While there might be occasional exceptions, Christians did what they did, e.g. worship on the first day of the week amongst Christian Jews and Gentiles. It did not spread by becoming like the cultures around it (pagan ones), but by being what it is.
    Two thoughts: (1) Do we really have much info about how Christians were known by their 1st-day Sabbath keeping in Acts? As Charlie brought up, do we have evidence of such? Did they immediately stop working on the first day? (2) What occasional exceptions do you refer to?
    Scripture quotations in response

    1CO 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. ACT 20:7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
    We have evidence that the Lord's Day, the Christian sabbath occurred on the first day of the week, which in sequence, we take as Sunday. This was,in honor of our Lord's resurrection.

    Like it or not, the unmistakable impression on the world is that Sunday is the Christian day of worship- even in the Islamic world, and among those who imagine themselves neutral or not "religious."

    The whole notion of contextualizing everything to make Christianity "acceptable" to unbelievers does not comport well with the biblical, New Testament examples of the way the faith spread.
    That's probably a mischaracterization of the term contextualization it is technical sense, though certainly some have applied it to water down the gospel or biblical patterns. We always contextualize, the question is how.
    The "contextualizing" would be in the sense of changing the common Christian day of worship to accommodate a false religion's notion of "the" day of "religious" worship.

    In the main, we just don't see biblical Christianity bending to suit culture, more so Christianity bends the culture- which has dramatic, yes, even violent results (cf Book of Acts).

    The realty is, even pagans expect Christians to worship Sunday. It's interesting, we don't see those given to the false religion of Islam changing to Sunday to accommodate a "Christian" culture.

    But that is what Christians must count the cost for, and leave the results of obedience to God. That's certainly what we see in the Apostles (e.g. Paul's missionary journeys)

    ---------- Post added at 02:14 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:06 PM ----------

    If I'm understanding your premise, you are accepting the fourth commandment/sabbath/Lord's Day as moral perpetual command upon all men in all generations.

    If that is correct assumption, I think the sabbath aspects (ceasing ordinary work and entertainment, advance preparations) were assumed by the early church in their practice. Don't forget, many were Jewish and sabbath keeping (the attributes of it) would not be strange to them.

    Yes, the Lord confronted man-made additions to sabbath, the ceremonial laws connected with sabbath (not its observance, but ceremonial laws on certain sabbaths) were abrogated in Christ's sacrifice. And, our Lord established again the necessity and mercy works that were in the sabbath FROM THE BEGINNING, but the essential attributes continued in the early church.

    The Christian sabbath, the first day of the week, in honor of the resurrection of our Lord.

    Let the whole world know that (every week).
    Scott
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    Covenant Joel is offline. Puritanboard Sophomore
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    Scott, I think you're missing my point. I accept the teaching of the Confession on the Christian Sabbath.

    The specific question I was referencing was whether or not we have direct evidence that the Christians were known as those who would not work on the first day of the week in the early period of the church. Of course we have evidence that they worshipped on the first day of the week (sometimes even late into the evening, as the Acts reference indicates). But did they, after the resurrection, begin ceasing from work on the 1st day? Did they continue to keep the 7th day as sabbath for a time? What did the transition look like? That's what I'm asking, and that's what Charlie referenced above.
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    were known as those who would not work on the first day of the week in the early period of the church. Of course we have evidence that they worshipped on the first day of the week (sometimes even late into the evening, as the Acts reference indicates). But did they, after the resurrection, begin ceasing from work on the 1st day?
    As ceasing from ordinary work was part of the sabbath from the beginning (Old Testament), this was, I think, assumed. This would not have been lost on early Christians, many of whom had Jewish ethnicity and were very familiar with ceasing from work on the sabbath.

    There's no basis to believe that the early church met, tithed, took communion, heard the Word preached on Sunday-
    then rushed off to work.

    As the common day of Christian sabbath became clear (in light of the resurrection), the basic aspects of Old Testament sabbath came with it.

    Remember also, the sabbath is testimony to the twin works of creation and redemption- making it a witness to the world of the resurrection- against all the false claims of other religions.

    Make sense?

    (I did note the assumption you hold to the confessional sabbath, and are not arguing that)
    Scott
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    Covenant Joel is offline. Puritanboard Sophomore
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott1 View Post
    As ceasing from ordinary work was part of the sabbath from the beginning (Old Testament), this was, I think, assumed. This would not have been lost on early Christians, many of whom had Jewish ethnicity and were very familiar with ceasing from work on the sabbath.

    There's no basis to believe that the early church met, tithed, took communion, heard the Word preached on Sunday-
    then rushed off to work.

    As the common day of Christian sabbath became clear (in light of the resurrection), the basic aspects of Old Testament sabbath came with it.

    Remember also, the sabbath is testimony to the twin works of creation and redemption- making it a witness to the world of the resurrection- against all the false claims of other religions.

    Make sense?

    (I did note the assumption you hold to the confessional sabbath, and are not arguing that)
    I get the logic regarding what the Christians wouldn't have done. What I'm asking though is whether or not there is (biblical or extrabiblical) evidence for them being known as those who didn't work on the first day of the week. Additionally, what did the transition look like: did they just start working on the 7th day and start with the 1st? If it wasn't immediate, then how did this happen?
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    Joel,

    As pagans in the early church came to Christ, they shed off their pagan lives and became more and more incorporated into the universal practices of the early church.

    In Mslm ministries today, the retention of many elements of mslm culture is actually being encouraged because some missiologists say that to too quickly demand a split from "mslm culture" is tantamount to "missionary extractionism" (i.e., the removal of a new convert out of his mslm environment and out of reach of others whom he could be reaching). In Islm, where it is often hard to separate the culture from the religion, many missiologists end up advocating the retaining of many facets of islmic belief as they attempt to preserve the cultural identity of those to whom they are ministering. The Gospel ordinances are unduly delayed, and new misssionaries are discouraged from speaking against MHD, the Q r n, and the new convert is not assimilated into existing churches but often kept apart in house fellowship networks to pray in the name of the Prophet Isa.

    People-movements are sometimes reported, but I have seen some of these first-hand and often it is merely a group of mslms who have more of a respect for the Prophet Isa than normal, while still being mslm (I am not convinced that most of these are saved and a recent Timothy Tennent article surveyed many of these and found most of them as still not believing in the Trinity, still believing the Qrn to be th Word of God and MHD to be the seal of the prophets).

    I believe that, by and large, the misssions scene among mslms is unhealthy. If we lower the bar, then yes, we can count many people as converts, but many Mslms already have a healthy respect for Jesus as a Prophet, even as they fail to truly respect Him - for True Respect of Jesus for who He is would entail worship and the immediate willingness to do away with all Satanic counterfeits.


    I know that some small prayer groups meet on Fridays as they learn about Jesus for who he is, but as soon as possible I believe that they ought to own the name of Christ and seek to identify with His People as soon as possible. As far as i can tell from my books on the early church, new converts were incorporated into Sunday worship and even slaves who had to work met at sunrise or early, early in order to gather as Christians before their required work was due them.
    Pergamum


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    As God changed from dealing primarily with Israel in the Old Testament, bringing forth the redeemer for all nations, a lot of things changed.

    The civil law given the nation expired because it was not intended to govern another nation, only the unique old testament theocracy (centered as it was around tribal land grants, tribe of Levi priests, a temple where God dwell ed in special sense in the "holy of holies," etc.

    The ceremonial law was fulfilled in its purpose with Christ's death, burial and resurrection. The Apostles confronted and explained this (even amongst themselves), as God inspired understanding and didactic revelation of it in Scripture.

    God was showing His covenant really, a covenant of redemption made within the Triune God intended from the very beginning to save Jews and Gentiles, using Israel as a "church under age" as one means toward that end.

    The expiration of those practices (civil law, ceremonial law) did not end overnight. The inspiration of the Holy Spirit speaking through the writings of the apostles was spread over a period of decades- and practices changed because of that.

    There was an overlap period of some 35 years or so between our Lord's resurrection (circa 35 AD) and the destruction of the Old Testament theocracy of Israel (circa 70 AD). The new canon of scripture was teaching toward that end, it appears, between and slightly beyond that period.

    That's when practices changed, including keeping the sabbath.... the Christian sabbath, the first day of the week in accordance with our Lord's resurrection, one of the purposes that became explicit in Christ.

    That meant "Sunday" worship, for Christians- not for other (false) religion, but for Christianity- and a pattern even for the aliens and strangers in their midst.
    Scott
    PCA
    North Carolina


    Post Tenebras Lux; "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." - Revelation 21:4

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    iainduguid is offline. Puritanboard Freshman
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    There seems an assumption here that all of the early Christians controlled their own schedules as we do. What, though, about the many Christians who were slaves? Did their enlightened employers give them Sunday off? Or any other day for that matter? As has been noted above, it is clear that the early Christians worshipped on the Sabbath, but even if they wanted to, they may not all have been free to rest. That may be why we see some worship services taking place in the evening.

    How that translates into a majority non-Christian culture, however, is tricky. A slave's work is by definition a work of necessity. There is a need for a great deal of wisdom here, and grace.

  20. #20
    Scott1's Avatar
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    What, though, about the many Christians who were slaves? Did their enlightened employers give them Sunday off?
    The fourth commandment required that, and even aliens in the midst of Israel were to be given that rest.

    So, it would be congruent to assume they were, as the Christian sabbath followed that and came to affect communities, nations.
    Scott
    PCA
    North Carolina


    Post Tenebras Lux; "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." - Revelation 21:4

  21. #21
    Covenant Joel is offline. Puritanboard Sophomore
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    Joel,

    As pagans in the early church came to Christ, they shed off their pagan lives and became more and more incorporated into the universal practices of the early church.

    In Mslm ministries today, the retention of many elements of mslm culture is actually being encouraged because some missiologists say that to too quickly demand a split from "mslm culture" is tantamount to "missionary extractionism" (i.e., the removal of a new convert out of his mslm environment and out of reach of others whom he could be reaching). In Islm, where it is often hard to separate the culture from the religion, many missiologists end up advocating the retaining of many facets of islmic belief as they attempt to preserve the cultural identity of those to whom they are ministering. The Gospel ordinances are unduly delayed, and new misssionaries are discouraged from speaking against MHD, the Q r n, and the new convert is not assimilated into existing churches but often kept apart in house fellowship networks to pray in the name of the Prophet Isa.

    People-movements are sometimes reported, but I have seen some of these first-hand and often it is merely a group of mslms who have more of a respect for the Prophet Isa than normal, while still being mslm (I am not convinced that most of these are saved and a recent Timothy Tennent article surveyed many of these and found most of them as still not believing in the Trinity, still believing the Qrn to be th Word of God and MHD to be the seal of the prophets).

    I believe that, by and large, the misssions scene among mslms is unhealthy. If we lower the bar, then yes, we can count many people as converts, but many Mslms already have a healthy respect for Jesus as a Prophet, even as they fail to truly respect Him - for True Respect of Jesus for who He is would entail worship and the immediate willingness to do away with all Satanic counterfeits.

    I know that some small prayer groups meet on Fridays as they learn about Jesus for who he is, but as soon as possible I believe that they ought to own the name of Christ and seek to identify with His People as soon as possible. As far as i can tell from my books on the early church, new converts were incorporated into Sunday worship and even slaves who had to work met at sunrise or early, early in order to gather as Christians before their required work was due them.
    Hi Pergamum,

    Thanks for your thoughts. I do agree with what you've read. I've been studying this insider stuff quite a bit recently (just finished my RTS MAR thesis which deals with it from the perspective of J.H. Bavinck). In fact, I would bet you and I are nearly on the exact same page about this. I do think that encouraging young believers to identify with the church universal is great.

    My question really originated as more of a personal conscience question. That is, let's say part of my role were to teach some English classes, and let's say they ran Sunday to Thursday. How do I respond? I don't know that this will be an actual problem that I will face, but I can see that it could be an issue. My conscience says no, as I have always seen Sabbath-keeping as very important, but in such a cross-cultural situation, I'm just not sure how to view it. I was before faced with the issue in such a culture as to whether or not I should take a taxi to get to Sunday worship. There was no other way. Does that count as a work of necessity? These are some of the difficult questions that I am trying to wrestle with.

    ---------- Post added 06-21-2011 at 12:19 AM ---------- Previous post was 06-20-2011 at 11:55 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by iainduguid View Post
    There seems an assumption here that all of the early Christians controlled their own schedules as we do. What, though, about the many Christians who were slaves? Did their enlightened employers give them Sunday off? Or any other day for that matter? As has been noted above, it is clear that the early Christians worshipped on the Sabbath, but even if they wanted to, they may not all have been free to rest. That may be why we see some worship services taking place in the evening.

    How that translates into a majority non-Christian culture, however, is tricky. A slave's work is by definition a work of necessity. There is a need for a great deal of wisdom here, and grace.
    That's exactly the type of scenario that I have wondered about...and wisdom and grace are definitely what I am after, as I'm not exactly sure how that translates into other cultural situations.

    ---------- Post added at 12:20 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:19 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott1 View Post
    As God changed from dealing primarily with Israel in the Old Testament, bringing forth the redeemer for all nations, a lot of things changed.

    The civil law given the nation expired because it was not intended to govern another nation, only the unique old testament theocracy (centered as it was around tribal land grants, tribe of Levi priests, a temple where God dwell ed in special sense in the "holy of holies," etc.

    The ceremonial law was fulfilled in its purpose with Christ's death, burial and resurrection. The Apostles confronted and explained this (even amongst themselves), as God inspired understanding and didactic revelation of it in Scripture.

    God was showing His covenant really, a covenant of redemption made within the Triune God intended from the very beginning to save Jews and Gentiles, using Israel as a "church under age" as one means toward that end.

    The expiration of those practices (civil law, ceremonial law) did not end overnight. The inspiration of the Holy Spirit speaking through the writings of the apostles was spread over a period of decades- and practices changed because of that.

    There was an overlap period of some 35 years or so between our Lord's resurrection (circa 35 AD) and the destruction of the Old Testament theocracy of Israel (circa 70 AD). The new canon of scripture was teaching toward that end, it appears, between and slightly beyond that period.

    That's when practices changed, including keeping the sabbath.... the Christian sabbath, the first day of the week in accordance with our Lord's resurrection, one of the purposes that became explicit in Christ.

    That meant "Sunday" worship, for Christians- not for other (false) religion, but for Christianity- and a pattern even for the aliens and strangers in their midst.
    So you're basically saying that there was a transitional period in which believers may not have rested from work on Sunday? But you would not see that as having any applicability for those coming out of other religions today?
    Joel
    TE (PCA)

  22. #22
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    Joel,

    I think that if you are evangelizing by use of this platform of teaching English and intentionally and aggressively trying to make disciples, and if you legally need this platform to stay in your country of ministry, that this can either be viewed as a work of mercy or a work of necessity. No need for a troubled conscience. If you worship right before or after work then this, too, would give a convenient excuse to invite students with you to worship. One fella I know incorporates Christian doctrine and the normal occurrences of a church services into his English lessons and invites students to worship with him as part of learning English.

    I would also view taxi rides to church as a necessity in many places as well as buying food as you travel on Sunday.

    p.s. I would love to read your thesis, can you email it to me? I loved your thoughts on the Common Word document and I am praying for more workers to mslms like you who won't fall for all the missiological dreck that is contaminating the waters right now.
    Pergamum


    "If a commission by an earthly king is considered a honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?"
    -- David Livingstone
    1 member(s) found this post helpful.

  23. #23
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    Joel
    So you're basically saying that there was a transitional period in which believers may not have rested from work on Sunday? But you would not see that as having any applicability for those coming out of other religions today?
    There is a difference. If you are talking about the church, roughly 35-70AD, the canon of scripture was just then being completed.

    For example, when the Apostle Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote to Corinth they did not yet have the full counsel of God's revealed will (His Word).

    Once established, based upon the Holy Spirit's revelation through the prophets and apostles (Ephesians 2:20), the faith was "once for all" (until the end of this world) set for God's people (Jude 1:3).

    That's true now, even if this is the first time a particular person, or group of persons have heard it.

    God has revealed all His will by special revelation- and all creatures, even those dominated by false religion and culture derived from it MUST obey it.... now.

    ---------- Post added at 08:18 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:11 AM ----------

    Also, part of the high calling of elder is to whom much is given, much is required.

    Others will watch everything you do, including how carefully you observe the sabbath. If you try, come what may, by God's grace to keep the sabbath (and we agree Westminster XXI is a faithful summary of the doctrine of Scripture) you will set an example of worshiping the one true God in spirit and in truth.

    That is our reasonable service.

    ---------- Post added at 08:29 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:18 AM ----------

    Let me also echo Pergamum's wise counsel, born of experience.

    While I would be willing to suffer something at least to keep the sabbath, remember that works of necessity are established as part of command four. The necessity, though is in the works themselves being done at that time (e.g. the doctor must operate today or the patient might die, etc.), not our own convenience (e.g. a carpenter says he must work on Sunday or his boss will demote him).

    Tough, it seems but God will bless obedience.

    This culture will be accustomed to strict adherence of a holy day- so your carefulness to keep it as a matter of command will not be lost on them.

    What you will have opportunity for is to show the sabbath is to be a delight, is merciful, allows for necessity and mercy to prevent harm to neighbor, etc. Something to look forward to every week.... on Sunday.
    Scott
    PCA
    North Carolina


    Post Tenebras Lux; "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." - Revelation 21:4

  24. #24
    Covenant Joel is offline. Puritanboard Sophomore
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    Joel,

    I think that if you are evangelizing by use of this platform of teaching English and intentionally and aggressively trying to make disciples, and if you legally need this platform to stay in your country of ministry, that this can either be viewed as a work of mercy or a work of necessity. No need for a troubled conscience. If you worship right before or after work then this, too, would give a convenient excuse to invite students with you to worship. One fella I know incorporates Christian doctrine and the normal occurrences of a church services into his English lessons and invites students to worship with him as part of learning English. I would also view taxi rides to church as a necessity in many places as well as buying food as you travel on Sunday.
    Thanks for those thoughts. I will have to think through that some more.

    p.s. I would love to read your thesis, can you email it to me? I loved your thoughts on the Common Word document and I am praying for more workers to mslms like you who won't fall for all the missiological dreck that is contaminating the waters right now.
    Sure, it's on its way...feel free to offer any critiques, thoughts in other directions, etc.

    ---------- Post added at 09:38 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:27 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott1 View Post
    There is a difference. If you are talking about the church, roughly 35-70AD, the canon of scripture was just then being completed.

    For example, when the Apostle Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote to Corinth they did not yet have the full counsel of God's revealed will (His Word).

    Once established, based upon the Holy Spirit's revelation through the prophets and apostles (Ephesians 2:20), the faith was "once for all" (until the end of this world) set for God's people (Jude 1:3).

    That's true now, even if this is the first time a particular person, or group of persons have heard it.

    God has revealed all His will by special revelation- and all creatures, even those dominated by false religion and culture derived from it MUST obey it.... now. Also, part of the high calling of elder is to whom much is given, much is required.

    Others will watch everything you do, including how carefully you observe the sabbath. If you try, come what may, by God's grace to keep the sabbath (and we agree Westminster XXI is a faithful summary of the doctrine of Scripture) you will set an example of worshiping the one true God in spirit and in truth.

    That is our reasonable service.

    Let me also echo Pergamum's wise counsel, born of experience.

    While I would be willing to suffer something at least to keep the sabbath, remember that works of necessity are established as part of command four. The necessity, though is in the works themselves being done at that time (e.g. the doctor must operate today or the patient might die, etc.), not our own convenience (e.g. a carpenter says he must work on Sunday or his boss will demote him).

    Tough, it seems but God will bless obedience.

    This culture will be accustomed to strict adherence of a holy day- so your carefulness to keep it as a matter of command will not be lost on them.

    What you will have opportunity for is to show the sabbath is to be a delight, is merciful, allows for necessity and mercy to prevent harm to neighbor, etc. Something to look forward to every week.... on Sunday.
    Thanks for your thoughts. I do think there is a difference between the transitional period and the present and that it can be an incredible witness. The practicalities of that are sometimes difficult to figure out though.
    Joel
    TE (PCA)

  25. #25
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    Please keep us posted, that we might pray as you are out in this field.

    Blessings!
    Scott
    PCA
    North Carolina


    Post Tenebras Lux; "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." - Revelation 21:4

  26. #26
    Covenant Joel is offline. Puritanboard Sophomore
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott1 View Post
    Please keep us posted, that we might pray as you are out in this field.

    Blessings!
    Thanks! I'll post an update in the prayer forum here soon.
    Joel
    TE (PCA)

  27. #27
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    Scott;

    You made an excellent observation here:


    This culture will be accustomed to strict adherence of a holy day- so your carefulness to keep it as a matter of command will not be lost on them.


    However, it is also valid to differentiate a rule-based religion versus a religion of internal principle. In a mslm context, I find that Matthew 5-7 (the contrast between strict religiosity and a religion of the heart) is very intriguing to many and often attractive. Many otherwise closed folks were willing to talk through these chapters during their fasting month.

    While carefulness will be observed in obedience to the Lord, our gratitude towards God and the generosity of God in allowing us to depart from strict slavish keeping in order to do good works or take care of true necessities (works of mercy and necessity) could be a great tool of witness to show that we are not merely slaves of God but also sons.
    Pergamum


    "If a commission by an earthly king is considered a honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?"
    -- David Livingstone
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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    Joel,

    As pagans in the early church came to Christ, they shed off their pagan lives and became more and more incorporated into the universal practices of the early church.

    In Mslm ministries today, the retention of many elements of mslm culture is actually being encouraged because some missiologists say that to too quickly demand a split from "mslm culture" is tantamount to "missionary extractionism" (i.e., the removal of a new convert out of his mslm environment and out of reach of others whom he could be reaching). In Islm, where it is often hard to separate the culture from the religion, many missiologists end up advocating the retaining of many facets of islmic belief as they attempt to preserve the cultural identity of those to whom they are ministering. The Gospel ordinances are unduly delayed, and new misssionaries are discouraged from speaking against MHD, the Q r n, and the new convert is not assimilated into existing churches but often kept apart in house fellowship networks to pray in the name of the Prophet Isa.

    People-movements are sometimes reported, but I have seen some of these first-hand and often it is merely a group of mslms who have more of a respect for the Prophet Isa than normal, while still being mslm (I am not convinced that most of these are saved and a recent Timothy Tennent article surveyed many of these and found most of them as still not believing in the Trinity, still believing the Qrn to be th Word of God and MHD to be the seal of the prophets).

    I believe that, by and large, the misssions scene among mslms is unhealthy. If we lower the bar, then yes, we can count many people as converts, but many Mslms already have a healthy respect for Jesus as a Prophet, even as they fail to truly respect Him - for True Respect of Jesus for who He is would entail worship and the immediate willingness to do away with all Satanic counterfeits.


    I know that some small prayer groups meet on Fridays as they learn about Jesus for who he is, but as soon as possible I believe that they ought to own the name of Christ and seek to identify with His People as soon as possible. As far as i can tell from my books on the early church, new converts were incorporated into Sunday worship and even slaves who had to work met at sunrise or early, early in order to gather as Christians before their required work was due them.
    Some things from Arabic and Middle Eastern cultures is worthy and should be well kept:


    Sean
    Layman, First Presbyterian Church of Concord New Hampshire (PCA)
    Hillsborough, New Hampshire

  29. #29
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    Pergamum
    While carefulness will be observed in obedience to the Lord, our gratitude towards God and the generosity of God in allowing us to depart from strict slavish keeping in order to do good works or take care of true necessities (works of mercy and necessity) could be a great tool of witness to show that we are not merely slaves of God but also sons.
    Yes, and when the Christian sabbath is properly understood it is something to look forward to, a delight!

    And when it is on the first day, Sunday, it reminds us of the twin acts of God creating, and redeeming us through Christ- which points back to Him, His mercy, His love for us, etc.

    And we can't possibly perfectly keep this command, but only by God's grace try, and trust that God will change us, and even use us to influence others, even those bound to false religion, all to the end of His Honor and His Glory.
    Scott
    PCA
    North Carolina


    Post Tenebras Lux; "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." - Revelation 21:4

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