Importance of the Sabbath

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by John Lanier, Jan 4, 2010.

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  1. John Lanier

    John Lanier Puritan Board Junior

    Here is my question for you all to wrangle over. Can someone who does not believe in or practice keeping the Sabbath be considered a Christian?

    Please explain your answers. For those who answer yes, could those who continually and in unrepentance practice idolatry, murder, adultery, coveting, lying, etc. (the other 9) be considered a Christian? If you have two different answers to these questions, how is the Sabbath not as important as the other 9? :think:
  2. Wayne

    Wayne Tempus faciendi, Domine.

    Seriously, why do you want to know?
  3. tt1106

    tt1106 Puritan Board Freshman

    I think the question that needs to be raised is why don't they believe in keeping the Sabbath. I have heard numerous theories on why we shouldn't. From Jesus fulfilled the law to others who believe that Jesus admonishment to the Pharisees abolished the Sabbath.
    From my perspective, keeping in mind that I am a Baby Christian and an invitro Reformed, I believe we should keep a holy day of rest. God gave the command to his people to take a day off and reflect and worship him. He even wrote it in stone. I don't see anything in the New Testament that says don't observe a holy day, so I believe we are commanded to keep it, just as the Israelites were. The bottom line seems to be (with my friends that don't observe the Sabbath) that people are just go, go, go. We should set aside the day to worship our creator. As far as being a Christian. I would not presume they are not a Christian because they don't keep the Sabbath. I would presume that they are mistaken and if they belong to a confessional church, they would easily see that they are mistaken given what the Confessions say about the Sabbath day activities. Like me, maybe they just hadn't ever read it before.

    God Bless...
  4. Wayne

    Wayne Tempus faciendi, Domine.


    Todd gave an answer, but I'd like to ask again for further information. Why do you want to know?

    There's a reason I'm asking.
  5. John Lanier

    John Lanier Puritan Board Junior

    I just don't understand why people seem to devalue that commandment. It seems that many even among the "reformed" would never consider someone who worships idols weekly to be a Christian but someone who deliberately breaks the Sabbath weekly is somehow ok and still a Christian. I don't understand how we can place more importance on one over the other, so I am interested in people's views on how and why they place more importance on one over another.
  6. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor


    It would be against the Confessions to argue a straight abrogation of the Fourth Commandment. Many of us would say more than that.

    It might be helpful to understand that aside from the blindness and rationalizing of sin that we are all prone to, but by the grace of God that some people confuse something very basic here in an attempt to justify this.

    In a sense, the Old Testament "Jewish sabbath" had some differences with the Christian one. They were, are, and shall be until the end of the world the same in that God has called His creature, man to:

    1) cease from his labors
    2) set the day apart to prioritize worship He prescribes
    3) work six days

    But there were differences in the Old Testament because the ceremonial law, and the civil law of Israel was binding on many activities that occurred regularly on the Sabbath day or on certain Sabbaths. Remember, it was centered on the sacrificial system, with a Temple and a tribe, Levites set apart to administer aspects of its observance.

    This before we get to the day change to commemorate our Lord's resurrection.

    This is another place where reformed theology excels.

    It helps us understand "all of Scripture in the context of all of Scripture." Scripture interprets Scripture. It's not a case of taking one verse out of context, without reference to context in which it was written, or interpreting an unclear passage against clear ones.

    Reformed theology helps us put this together as a moral, perpetual commandment, binding on all men in all generations.

    It is something God Himself instituted and patterned at Creation, explicitly gave as part of the Ten Commandments, and which our Lord followed and nowhere abrogated. He clarified it in the face of man-made additions and wrong inward motives, but in so doing He only re-affirmed its perpetuity.
  7. John Lanier

    John Lanier Puritan Board Junior

    Yes, I am aware that there are differences between the Mosaic Sabbath and the Christian Sabbath. However, the doctrine of the Sabbath predates Moses, as it is a creation ordinance as you stated. It is a part of the moral law. So, I am not referring to people who refuse to practice a Mosaic Sabbath with all of the ceremonial aspects but the Sabbath as a part of the moral law. Can we consider them Christians? Thanks for your reply.
  8. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    If I'm understanding your question, the people think that Sabbath was, in total the ceremonies (not the substance which is cease, set apart, and work).

    Those who believe the fourth commandment does not apply at all- can they be considered Christian? Is that your question?

    If so, yes, but it is sin. Ignorance of God's revealed will as well as deliberate disobedience of it are that.

    (And as an aside- look at the Westminster Catechisms for the consequences of sin.)

    But thankfully, we can believe (and do believe) many wrong things and still get to Heaven because our salvation is totally, completely dependent on the sovereign act of mercy of our God.:)
  9. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    John, the commandment is certainly [just as] important; but at the same time, great compassion and tenderness must be shown. For instance -- if there is a person who 1.) Acknowledges that the keeping of the Sabbath through its weekly observation is binding; but 2.) Intentionally and consciously sets themselves opposed to the keeping thereof, then this is one thing; but if there is a person who A.) In true humility, sincerity, lowliness and repentance submits themselves to the Lord Jesus and his law, truly endeavoring to walk in all his commandments, but B.) Has been convinced by teachers from scripture that the Sabbath is no longer binding -- this is another matter entirely. With these we ought not to come blazing at them, "You are not a Christian!" Nor ought we to assume in our own minds that they do not belong to the Lord. Rather, we should deal patiently and compassionately with them, trusting that the Spirit truly has been left in the world to convict and instruct. A parallel case, for instance, would be a brother or sister who is continually downloading songs from Napster: they might sincerely not realize that such is theft, and in a judgment of charity I think we ought to assume such as we patiently encourage and exhort one another.
  10. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    I believe we are to doubt the full conversion of those who have no desire for corporate worship. (Heb 10) Those who desire corporate worship practice some kind of Sabbath because there is no other way to have corporate worship. But the particulars of Sabbath practice as it relates to things outside of corporate worship can vary to a wide degree. The particulars of Sabbath keeping fall, I believe, in the category of 'scruples'. We are instructed in Rom 14 and 1 Cor 8 not to judge others by their scruples. Going to church is essential. Going to a restaurant after church is a non-essential.
  11. John Lanier

    John Lanier Puritan Board Junior

    Yes. That is my question.
  12. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    If I could write as cogently as Mr. Korte, this is what I would have said.
  13. Wayne

    Wayne Tempus faciendi, Domine.


    Okay. I can work with that better.

    To attempt a direct answer, keeping the Law doesn't save you, but a godly, sanctified observance of the commandments is an outgrowth or evidence of a true union with Christ. And while the true Christian will die more and more to sin and live more and more to righteousness, we remain deeply sinful throughout our lives. We will always be inconsistent in our living out of the Christian life. That inconsistency can be compounded by the fact that true Christians can come under the influence of false teachers. Christians can be misled.

    But when you refine your question to consider the continual unrepentant practice of any sin, such sin, at least in a Reformed church setting, properly forces the elders of the Church to conclude that, for all they can see, the person is not a believer, and so that person would be excommunicated from the congregation.

    Bottom line: I don't think you'll find anyone on the PB who "places more importance on one over the other," and so it doesn't get us anywhere to aim that question at forum members. That, and we can't really speak for (i.e., explain) the actions or beliefs of others outside the PB.

    Back to the top, your questions raises other questions. Is this a problem that you see in someone close to you, or just in general. If it is just a general observation/complaint, then I'd say "Welcome to the world. Stop complaining and find ways to be part of the solution." But if your concern arises because of people close to you, you might re-phrase your question and ask for help in how to ministry in that situation. There are good short books and pamphlets which do a good job of presenting a biblical case for the observance of the Sabbath.
  14. John Lanier

    John Lanier Puritan Board Junior

    Yes. But you seek to keep them and I'm sure that you are repentant when you find out that you have broken one. My question is in regards to those who are, as I originally stated, unrepentant and do not wish to keep a sabbath.
  15. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    Is your question about those who do not practice the Reformed view of the Sabbath because they don't know about it, or those who are convicted of the Reformed view but simply do not wish to practice it?
  16. John Lanier

    John Lanier Puritan Board Junior

    I will be the first to admit that I don't know a whole lot about the Presbyterian groups (OPC, PCA, RPCNA, etc.). But there are quite a few Baptists who claim to be "reformed" and confessional but reject the Sabbath (none on the PB). I have a friend who is a pastor of one of these churches. They know the real "reformed" teaching on the Sabbath but reject it and teach others that there is no Sabbath that we have to live by. In a word, they are antinomian. I know it sounds odd that they consider themselves confessional but they just take what they don't like out of the confession. I have seen a website for a church that said that they held to the 1689 LBCF but did not agree with it on...and they listed all their disagreements. One being the Sabbath. I have been troubled in how I should perceive my friend. As an unbeliever or as confused but still a believer. I tend to think now that he is an unbeliever. This is not so that I can berate him or come blazing at him but this would of course change the way I interact and pray for him. Hopefully, this answers your question as well, Wayne.
  17. tt1106

    tt1106 Puritan Board Freshman

    Pray for enlightenment. There are millions filling the churches who are in the same condition. Just speaking for myself John, I was an Atheist, my wife was a believer, brought up in the church. We both "got saved" about two months apart. For both of us, this involved God revealing himself to us, but more importantly revealing ourselves to us. Once faced with this, we could not continue as we had and were forced to seek the truth in obedience.
    I would imagine this is the same for many, who are interpreting scripture on their own and don't have the benefit yet of scripture revelation. At least on this point, or else why would he want to be disobedient? Regarding the comment on confessional churches; this is the disease plaguing the entire church. As time passes, people are allowing our churches to become more worldly and accepting. I never hear (unless they're misguided) of churches adopting a much stricter interpretation in order to bring in new members. :) In many cases, the church has been infiltrated by as many relativists as the world. Holding to truth, stubbornly, is decidedly unpopular.

    God Bless.
  18. Herald

    Herald Moderator Staff Member


    I am going to be direct so that I am not misunderstood. You are taking too much upon yourself to determine whether your friend is a believer or not based on how he views the Sabbath. Your friend may be in error over his view of the Sabbath, but that doesn't mean he is unsaved. Consider what 1689 LBC says on truth and error:

    Error doesn't necessarily translate into perdition. Many Christians believe Christ is their Sabbath rest. They have a view of the Sabbath that many Reformed Christians would consider to be in error, but does that mean they are unsaved? No, it doesn't. I arrived at the sabbatarian position within the past few years. Does that mean that from 1979 until 2006 I was unsaved?

    You describe yourself as an "elder in training." Are you accountable to your fellow elders and your pastor? Have you discussed this with them? What is their counsel?

    Instead of focusing on your friend's position on the Sabbath, focus on your friend's understanding of the Gospel. Don't place yourself as judge and jury.
  19. jawyman

    jawyman Puritan Board Junior

    Last edited: Jan 4, 2010
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