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Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Joshua, Jan 1, 2006.
Which do you observe?
I believe the Christian Sabbath, or Lord's Day, is to be observed from midnight to midnight and so, by God's grace, that is how I aim to observe it.
My reasons are expounded well by Greg Price in his article When Does the Sabbath Begin? Morning or Evening?
My mindset is such that I generally desire to keep the Sabbath apart from sundown Saturday until going to sleep on the Sabbath eve. However, I voted for "midnight to midnight" because this is what I do observe in the strict sense . . . i.e., I sometimes purchase needed items after sundown but before midnight on Saturday, under special circumstances work up to the approach of midnight on Saturday, etc. But in order to prepare for the Sabbath, I believe it beneficial to begin separating from the common affairs of this world even on Saturday night.
I vote for "none of the above." I consider all days equal, however, we should make time for God 7 days a week.
The verse I use to "justify" this position is from Romans 14:
"One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike......"
I also have practical reasons for this position.
I suffer from a severe illness. If I am totally exhausted on Saturday, I will be active on Sunday.
I also look around and see police officers, dairy farmers, doctors, nurses, etc. working on 7 days of the week. I figure it is proper to perform a valuable service any day of the week.
On the other hand, MAYBE NFL players should not work on Sunday because they are not performing a valuable service. And therefore, we should not support these players by watching football on Sunday.
But I do not want to pass judgment on this. Romans 14 also says we should not pass judgment on disputable matters.
I also recommend the article Andrew posted. He argues that according to Scripture, the day is NOT sundown to sundown, but midnight to midnight.
I have a followup question.
If Saturday or Sunday is a "more sacred day," what is permissable and what is not permissable on this day?
- can a doctor work?
- can a dairy farmer work?
- can a person watch TV knowing the vile images on TV shows and commercials?
- can a person play sports?
- can a person walk 1,000 yards to get groceries?
- can a person entertain themselves watching entertainers working on Saturday or Sunday?
- can a student do homework on Sunday?
- can a fat person exercise on Sunday, knowing exercise can be hard work?
How specifically is this "sacred day" different from other days?
If a church insists on a sacred day, might this pose a unnecessary burden on new Christians? A new Christian may have to work on Sunday to provide for his family.
There's an old acronym that sums up my position: KISS.
Hence, my Sabbath rest begins when I go to sleep Saturday night and ends when I wake up Monday morning.
[Edited on 1-2-2006 by SolaScriptura]
I believe that Saturday evening preparations for the Lord's Day are a very good thing. My ideal Saturday night would look something like that described by Robert Burns in The Cotter's Saturday Night.
I think the person who feels that the Sabbath is over at sundown on the Lord's Day and then goes about resuming activities that are improper and unlawful on the Lord's Day (for example, watching the NFL) is indeed in violation of the Fourth Commandment. There is also the issue of misinterpreting God's Word.
The Fourth Commandment teaches that not only is one specific day in seven to be sanctified unto the Lord, ie., the Lord's Day, but that the whole day is to be sanctified unto him. Therefore, it is not only important to understand what duty is enjoined upon us as to keeping the Fourth Commandment, but also what timeframe is in view.
The Westminster Confession, chap. 21:
The Westminster Larger Catechism:
Excerpt from Greg Price's article:
[Edited on 1-2-2006 by VirginiaHuguenot]
Ya'll would do really good at an Orthodox Synagogue!!!! The Orthodox Jews even have timers for lights and kitchen appliances even down to garage door openers so they do not have to push butons to 'work'.
Do you think maybe ya'll are worrying just a little bit TOO much about this? The answers I have seen here would do nothing but confuse and comletely upset a new christian to the point of complete and utter despair...I was starting to get depressed....
Both of my daughters are nurses and work weekends.....thye have to
schedule days off and trade shifts to attend church every week or two
We celebrate our Lords day with worship, meals at home, no malls and just family time maybe having people over after services, In my humble opinion theres no need to attach all these insane rules and regulations that just make it a chore to celebrate the Lords Day with the main worry being how we are offending God if we start at midnight or 6AM. I cook, do dishes and GAD maybe even throw in a load of laundry if theres been a mess....
There is possibly something wrong with me as far as ya'll are concerned...but this gal cannot live with all that self induced stress. I want to enjoy God not worry about the bobsled to hell.....
We should be ever ferverent to obey God and his moral law. If God commands us to do anything, we should obey joyfully with submission.
When we as Christians have a good understanding of exactly what the law requires of us, it should drive us to despair in our own keeping of it. This is one of the purposes of the law, to drive us to Christ, and HIS keeping of the law, not our own.
That being said, this is only one purpose of the law. We still have the duty to obey these commands. The Westminster Larger Catechism addresses the purposes of the law as outlined in Scripture:
I have extended family members who also work on the Sabbath. God however in his moral law forbids all such actions, when not considered acts of necessity and/or mercy.
With all due respect, one could apply the same arguments you are giving to any of the 10 commandments. Stress/worry are not good reasons not to obey God. The ONLY reasons to (or not to) obey God should be found in his Word. If one cannot defend his/her position from Holy Scripture, he/she must submit to the clear teaching that God has given us.
Surely even the best of Christians sin countlessly every day. To say this is not to say that they are "in danger" of hell fire (although a healthy "fear of God" is a good thing). We as Christians know these several things:
1) That God has provided us with all things necessary for faith and life, and can be found explicitly or implicitly in his Word (2 Tim. 3:16).
2) That God has provided us with many commandments in this world that regulate morality. These are summerized in the 10 commandments, and even further into 1) Love God and 2) Love your neighbor.
3) That God demands nothing but perfection as he calls us to "be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." (Mat 5:48)
4) That Christ did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfil it (Mat 5:17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. ).
5) That as Christians, we can confess when we fail at keeping this law, and God is faithful and just to forgive us (1Jo 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.).
6) That in our justification, Christ alone has fulfilled the law on our behalf, and that our good works do NOTHING to justify us in the sight of God, but instead are our spiritual act of worship IN RESPONSE to what God has already done for us! (Romans 12:1)
Grace, I hope you didn't sense the same level of anal retentiveness in my post.
I too object to some of the pharisaic applications of the Sabbath that are sometimes expounded here. The principle is that on Sunday we rest from our normal activities in order to focus on worship and, as you put it, in enjoying God.
"Hence, my Sabbath rest begins when I go to sleep Saturday night and ends when I wake up Monday morning."
That's pretty much my view. However if I stay up past midnight I still consider the time I will wake up "tomorrow" even though it is technically the same day.
For me the Sabbath issue is part of a much larger issue. That is, what does God expect of us.
Sometimes this is how church legal history appears to me:
God created the Law so that His elect people would know how to live proper lives.
When God saw that the Jews could not fulfill His legal requirements, He sent a sacrificial lamb to fulfill His legal requirements, and create a superior covenant.
This superior legal agreement greatly simplified the law because it simply focused on loving God and loving your neighbour. These are simple legal concepts to understand and can be applied in many areas.
Then along comes a multitude of other legal experts to "refine" these legal concepts.
Suddenly you have hundreds of "Christian denominations", each of whom will tell you what to do. I have had Seventh-Day Adventists telling me not to eat pork and not to work on Saturday. I have had Baptists telling me not to work on Sunday. I have had Pentecostals telling me that Calvin was a heretic and that I need to speak in tongues. I have had Catholics telling me to pray to statues.
Everywhere I go I see rules, and people telling what is right and wrong. The burden of these teachings can be overwhelming.
A few years ago, this situation got me very upset.
Then one night something strange happened. I woke up in the middle of the night, and I then wandered into the living room. I sat in my easy chair and opened the Bible randomly.
My eyes immediately fell upon one verse:
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with you God. (Micah 6:9)
Finally, something my little brain could grasp.
I know many Reformers will find this experience to be bogus, but this is honestly what happened.
I find all these Sabbath rules very tiring and somewhat confusing.
Example: If working in a grocery store on Sunday is a sin, then is it a sin to watch NFL football players and referees violate the Sabbath by working on Sunday?
My prayer is: Lord, please show me the truth, and forgive me when I have burdened others with unreasonable requirements.
What have you read in regards to sabbath keeping?
To be honest Scott, I do not know how to answer your question.
I have read of the legal requirements that the Jews followed, such as you may only walk x number of yards on the Sabbath. These rules seemed very burdensome, though they did help the Jews rest in some cases.
Jesus made a number of comments about the Sabbath, such as physical healings are permitted on the Sabbath.
I have read that early Christians met on the Sunday.
However, beyond that I have not read a lot about the Sabbath. To the best of my recollection, I have not read what Calvin, Spurgeon and others have said about the Sabbath.
I am not arguing against the Sabbath. I think honouring the Sabbath results in big-time blessings for many Christians because it allows them to rest, enjoy family, read the Bible, go to church, etc.
What distresses me is how Sabbath rules can distress and burden people.
I hope this answers your question, Scott.
Oh, Scott, I forgot, I also have read the WCF on the Sabbath.
Has a Reformed synod ever said what is deemed an acceptable work of necessity on the Sabbath:
- is exercise allowed?
- is cooking a fancy turkey dinner allowed, or shall we only eat food that is prepared or gathered on Saturday?
- are we allowed to benefit from other's work at restaurants, etc?
Scot, can you understand my confusion?
I can relate. I would suggest reading some good material on the subject.
Matt has some excellent stuff on his site:
Joey Pipa has a simple book on the sabbath.
Then there's Shepherd's Theses Sabbaticae.
Thanks for the readings Scott.
One article said, "Calvin argues that the Sabbath was given for three reasons: to depict spiritual rest, to preserve ecclesiastical order and to provide relief to workers."
I realize that violating the Sabbath actually hurt the Jews more than helped them.
I certainly will not argue the Sabbath. Many of these OT laws are unbelievable blessings. They help preserve us, keep us free from infectious diseases, etc.
My main concerns are:
1) I believe Romans 14 argues that considering every day alike is acceptable. I think this takes precedence over any logic provided by Calvin, et al. (I mean no disrespect by this. I realize that Calvin was an intellectual giant.)
2) I think Jesus' healing on the Sabbath and allowing His disciples to gather food on the Sabbath is also consistent with Romans 14.
Question 1: Is my interpretation of Romans 14 wrong? I believe it argues against mandatory specific "sacred" days.
3) The Bible says that the Sabbath was made for man. I believe it says so after Jesus healed on the Sabbath.
4) Because of health considerations or job requirements, making Saturday or Sunday a "more sacred day" may cause hardship for some Christians.
If a man needs to work Sunday - rather than Monday - to provide for his family, then should can I say?
Sometimes there are better things than a mandatory Sunday off. Some people have odd schedules or odd circumstances that require unusual days off and unusual worship schedules.
Question 2: If I make Friday's my Holy Day, will I be judged harshly?
Question 3: If the Lord heals my body and I can work again, but can only get a job that entails Sunday work, will I be judged harshly?
5) Many churches set up rules and regulations concerning tithing, foods, sacred days, etc. that burden people. I would rather avoid this if possible.
6) Often times, these Sabbath regulations are are confusing and seemingly arbitrary. As the above posts illustrate, determining what is and is not permissible is largely arbitrary.
7) I am also hestitate to say it is wrong to work on Sunday and watch NFL players earning their wages providing non-essential services on Sunday. The standards I set can come back to haunt me. (Actually I watch very little football.)
It sort of makes me a hypocrite as per Romans 14. I do not want to set as standard that I can not keep.
I realize how awful this may make me appear. I am arguing against a specific mandatory day off. In fact, I think we need time off for Bible readings, etc.
It is just that I prefer to give myself and others greater flexibility as per Romans 14.
Question 4: If I consider "every day alike," will I be judged severely?
Scott, I think where you and I agree is that the fact that so many people CAN NOT take Sundays off is a real problem.
Ironically, I think many Reformed people contribute to this by travelling, shopping, dining out, watching football, baseball, etc. on Sunday.
But I do not want to judge because I have shopped on Sunday.
Non-sabbatarian here. Guess there's not much point to this post.
[Edited on 1-3-2006 by Mike]
I would vote, but, as is so often the case with polls on this board, the choices offered do not reflect my situation...so I'll just read...and maybe comment...
Henry is on to something. Sabbath observance often leads to ridiculous legalism, just like it did in ancient Israel. I do my best to rest and worship on Sunday...but I still catch a football game too, from time to time.
In rereading my post, I did feel the need to clarify: I DO believe in keeping the 4th Commandment, however, I do not spend a lot of time fretting about minutae such as, "when does the Sabbath begin?" These are the sprts of things that tended towards legalism in Israel (for which Jesus criticized them) and in the New Covenant church...
[Edited on 1-3-2006 by kevin.carroll]
Everyone needs to keep in mind, legalism is not legalism if God requires something! Jesus was concerned with the 'jot and tittle', as should we. Granted, the parts that were ceremonial have been abrogated, but the central theme is eternal. It should be all of our goals to hold to Gods sabbath as best we can. Jesus kept the sabbath; is it everyone's belief that He was lackadaisical? Can we keep it like Christ did? That shouldn't be the question.
The WCF is clear; we need to cease from the typical on the Lords day; this, I believe is key. Study Gods word in a deeper way on the Lords day; do acts of mercy. Break bread with the brethren (yes you can cook!) Minister to our families.
Didn't vote . . . I tend to try for the same as Ben . . . though I very rarely will stay up past midnight (I can't think straight that late), I don't worry it when I do.
Again, completely agreed. But agonizing over things like does the Sabbath begin at midnight or dawn is certainly in the antechamber of legalism.
Is it legalism to remove all impediments to our enjoying God on the Lord's Day? Some might call it legalism. I call it love. The Sabbath is a delight because we can look at all our worldly duties and say,"I don't have to do any of this today. I can enjoy God today."
I think legalism could set in when we get down to defining worldly duties.And not to sound holier than thou either, but I honeslty enjoy God every day. My desire and prayer is to enjoy Him in all that I do every day of the week though I admit I have a job that may make that easier to do and remind me of my need for Him a well.
Trevor, I was seeking to respond but you have said it all so well. Jesus said:
This is the essence of our worship, both inwardly and outwardly. It does not forbid holding one day above another, or committing oneself to a set of rules. If denying oneself is profitable for godliness, then I salute that individual believer for his/her realization and temperance.
I believe Sunday, the Lord's day, is sanctified by corporate worship, prayer, the Lord's table and giving thanks. It is practice in our household to spend time as a family enjoying each others company and appreciating how God has blessed us. But we also enjoy a good meal and have no qualms about eating out. And Trevor, your comment about our electric meter running and having others serve us on the "sabbath" is right on the mark. It seem a bit duplicitous. But I also do not doubt the intent of brothers and sisters who observe the sabbath. I am sure they do so out of sincere desire to worship God.
It is all our responsibilities to find out exactly what God would require of us in His commands. In all of this, it is better to be safer than lackadasical in our approach to the day. If something is questionable, it should be removed from the equation until it is deemed acceptable. It should not be the reverse. This is exactly my rationale to the EP issue. It is safer........
You are assuming that this premise is in the 'antechamber'. To call it legalistic, you would have to prove that it is above what God commands. You cannot prove this assertion, hence, you should hold to one or the other as it errs on prudence.
Agreed...but we ought also not shy away from the term, if it fits.