Sabbath Day Questions...

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Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
As you are in a PCA church, all officers (deacons and elders) must declare any differences they have requested to take from the Westminster Standards. These are usually stated when the congregation votes on officers, so the congregation knows what they are voting on.

So, for example, if 2 deacon and 2 elder candidates are standing for election, and have gone through officer examination (e.g. exemplary life and sound doctrine), the congregation is able to know any exceptions before they vote on their officer candidates.

A teaching elder, e.g. Senior Pastor also requests exceptions, if any, before his presbytery. When the church calls him, there is a vote, and any exceptions, if any, are made known at that time in some format.

Last time I stood for office, I was the only one who did not request any exceptions to our standards- every other candidate requested and was granted exception to the sabbath recreation clause of Westminster Chapter XXI. That was the only exception requested.

All these men believe in the priority of Lord's Day worship, and that work, ordinarily is to be abstained from. Among those who request the recreation exception, it is interesting, many are open to improving on this. One told me he draws a "light" verses "heavy" recreation exception- no recreation that causes one to sweat.

It seems most also believe it is a violation to ordinarily eat out on the sabbath because it causes others to have to work. I only came to firm conviction about this recently (and am so blessed because of it), so one can only be patient as others are working through this.

What an incredible witness it has been to invite people over for a quiet meal after church at home- sometimes that happens as an alternative to a request to go out to eat at a restaurant after church. It is a good way to encourage and welcome new people, visitors, those going through difficulties, etc. Single people are good meal guests also.

It's important to witness with your words and life with the fourth commandment. After all, the Westminster Larger Catechism even acknowledges there is less light in nature for it.

What a lifetime pattern of blessing it is... and it helps us keep all the other commands better. While no one can promise, the restlessness and crisis that often breaks out in people's lives is lessened when a regular "ceasing" is, by God's grace observed one day in seven. It is really freeing to know you don't have to work, or even worry about it... and instead you can prioritize focus on God, His Word, and His Ways, all day.

[emphasis added]

Question 121: Why is the word Remember set in the beginning of the fourth commandment?

Answer: The word Remember is set in the beginning of the fourth commandment, partly, because of the great benefit of remembering it, we being thereby helped in our preparation to keep it, and, in keeping it, better to keep all the rest of the commandments, and to continue a thankful remembrance of the two great benefits of creation and redemption, which contain a short abridgment of religion; and partly, because we are very ready to forget it, for that there is less light of nature for it, and yet it restrains our natural liberty in things at other times lawful; that it comes but once in seven days, and many worldly businesses come between, and too often take off our minds from thinking of it, either to prepare for it, or to sanctify it;and that Satan with his instruments much labor to blot out the glory, and even the memory of it, to bring in all irreligion and impiety.
 
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Mindaboo

Puritan Board Graduate
Scott,

We are in a PCA church, but have only been in this church for about a year. Only one man has stood for elder and two for deacon since our return. No one mentioned any exceptions to the WCF. If they did it was not mentioned when we voted.

We are still trying to sort out what is appropriate and what isn't at this point. I have only met two other families who have even attempted to rest on the Sabbath. Both have differing views than I do. They basically don't eat out and shop on Sunday. My conviction is that it goes deeper than that. We are to delight in the Lord by resting physically, refraining from works or business, and turning our feet from doing our good pleasure. I am finding great joy in focusing on Him instead of my self.

People see it whether we talk about it or not. Like I said we are the only ones I am aware of that hold this view. If they ask me about it I do talk about it. I don't know how you would bring it up without coming across as judgemental.

At some point I will go to my pastor and ask him about his take on it. He is our interim pastor and I am not sure just what his role is in the church. I don't think he comes in to reform the church since he won't be the pastor we call. He is a very sweet godly man. I know he isn't sabbatarian in his view and I would like to know why not. It would be interesting to hear his thoughts.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Scott,

We are in a PCA church, but have only been in this church for about a year. Only one man has stood for elder and two for deacon since our return. No one mentioned any exceptions to the WCF. If they did it was not mentioned when we voted.


First, if you are new members (you mentioned you have been there less than one year), seek out a couple mature believers who have been there a long time and ask them about the local practice historically.

A few ways this can be done (declaring exceptions):

1)Have them announced when a congregational meeting is held
2)Have them written by the candidates name on the congregational ballot
3)You could also have them included in officer testimonies when they are mailed out to congregation members
4)Disclose them in introductions or by way of question at a "town hall" forum for officer candidates


The Book of Church Order (constitution) gives leeway to local church practice but does require that all exceptions requested be declared and evaluated. If an officer has any differences, they will come up during officer's training.

We are still trying to sort out what is appropriate and what isn't at this point. I have only met two other families who have even attempted to rest on the Sabbath. Both have differing views than I do. They basically don't eat out and shop on Sunday. My conviction is that it goes deeper than that. We are to delight in the Lord by resting physically, refraining from works or business, and turning our feet from doing our good pleasure. I am finding great joy in focusing on Him instead of my self.

One way you can be used of God in this is developing a set pattern for Lord's Day worship. For example, a set time for Family Bible reading, a set quiet time, etc. If you invite someone over for a meal after church, you might also invite them to stay for that.

People see it whether we talk about it or not. Like I said we are the only ones I am aware of that hold this view. If they ask me about it I do talk about it. I don't know how you would bring it up without coming across as judgemental.

Just be faithful, and God will give you all kinds of opportunities to influence people.

At some point I will go to my pastor and ask him about his take on it. He is our interim pastor and I am not sure just what his role is in the church. I don't think he comes in to reform the church since he won't be the pastor we call. He is a very sweet godly man. I know he isn't sabbatarian in his view and I would like to know why not. It would be interesting to hear his thoughts.
Yes!
.
 

Mindaboo

Puritan Board Graduate
First, if you are new members (you mentioned you have been there less than one year), seek out a couple mature believers who have been there a long time and ask them about the local practice historically.

We are actually returning after being away for six years. I should probably just go to the session and ask them. We have a great relationship with a couple of our elders.


A few ways this can be done (declaring exceptions):

1)Have them announced when a congregational meeting is held
2)Have them written by the candidates name on the congregational ballot
3)You could also have them included in officer testimonies when they are mailed out to congregation members
4)Disclose them in introductions or by way of question at a "town hall" forum for officer candidates

We have been in two PCA churches and never seen any of this done. An officer's testimony would be very helpful, especially if it were a written one! I should ask if that is something they have ever considered. We or I should say Brad has always gone privately to ask them their stand on the WCF, but I never have. I don't remember ever hearing that they did take an exception. I wonder if it is because they aren't as familiar with it as they like to think. I would also be interested in finding out what their thoughts are on the second commandment. It would be good information to have. It certainly does help me to know how and why the church moves in certain directions. Thank you for all of your advice!
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
Mindy, it sounds like you and Brad might be in a situation sort of similar to my wife and I. In our fairly small church (approx 25 people), we are the only ones who hold to a confessional view of the Sabbath. This includes our pastor who goes out to eat with his family on Sundays and whose wife watches football on Sundays. This is in NO WAY a post in condemnation of my pastor or any of our brothers and sisters in our local body, but I am hoping to comfort you in knowing that we too are in the minority group at our church. It is not always easy, but we stick to our convictions as best we can, all the while being respectful to others whom the Lord has not revealed the truths regarding the Lord’s Day. This means that we turn down lots of offers to go out to eat with families after service. Yesterday some of the teens were trying to plan a “game night” and suggested having it next Sunday evening. I simply remarked that I would prefer we do it on another night and suggested Friday instead. I have much, much respect for my pastor and elders, so I have never made it an issue. However, it was important for me to let them know where we stood, so when my wife and I met with them before joining our church as members, I told them that I held to the confessional view of the Sabbath. My pastor actually said that was great and he had no problem with it. He actually told me that even though I would be the minority in our local church, in the OPC he was the one who was the minority for taking exception to the confession’s teaching on the Sabbath. Also Scott, you are correct in that my pastor explained he declared this exception when transferring his ordination from the PCA to OPC and our presbytery okayed it.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
One other thing, and this comports with experience in several churches in the denomination-

Confirming officers (deacons and elders) is quite a process. It involves qualification by Scripture, testing and confirmation by the congregation. Ordination is, as I understand it, an ordinance of public worship because it involves taking of vows, laying on of hands, etc.

Remember, Presbyterian doctrine is that ordination is a lifetime call, not something to casually set aside. That's doctrine. This tends to promote stability.

The congregation, in the PCA, is very involved in the process of selecting officers. It's a process that involves nomination, training and examination by senior leadership, ordination, and confirmation by and greeting by the congregation. Ordinarily, a suitable sermon is directed toward ordination and installation of officers and God's plan in that. It is a basic part of the life of the congregation in Presbyterianism.

On a practical side, it really helps draw the covenant community together, encourage men broadly to lead, and make a more stable structure for growth and nurture and admonition in the Lord.
 
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