The repetition of the Sabbath by definition makes it a ceremony

Discussion in 'The Lord's Day or Christian Sabbath' started by Seeking_Thy_Kingdom, Jun 20, 2019.

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  1. Seeking_Thy_Kingdom

    Seeking_Thy_Kingdom Puritan Board Freshman

    I am in a discussion with a brother, who says that we should not hold others to the Sabbath because it has a ceremonial aspect and the ceremonial law was perfected in Christ and done away with.

    I know I disagree with him, but I also agree that by definition the repetition implies ceremony. I am having a hard time finding just how to word my response, any advice?
  2. Joshua

    Joshua Administrator Staff Member

    You mean the 4th Commandment, amidst all the other Commandments summarizing the moral law, and whose reference in the text of the commandment itself hearkens back to Creation (i.e. pre-ceremonial anything), and the commandment for which there was punishment even before it was codified at Sinai? That one?
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  3. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    What do you mean by repetition?
  4. Seeking_Thy_Kingdom

    Seeking_Thy_Kingdom Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes, that one.... he says the moral still applies but we should not teach it because of, what he considers, the week by week repetition to be a ceremonial element.

    The one 1 out of 7 day repetition by definition creates a ceremony.
  5. Joshua

    Joshua Administrator Staff Member

    I think he's misunderstanding the term ceremonial as it applies in Confessional language of abrogation. The practice of the sabbath was one day in seven from creation, long before the Ceremonial Law was codified. Further, it would be absurd to acknowledge something as a part of the moral law and not teach it.
  6. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    His definition perhaps. I have never seen anyone define "ceremonial" as something that is repeated. Technically marriage is repeatable (Matthew 19:9) as well as oath taking, the Lord's Supper etc. but none of these are ceremonial.

    It is more reasonable to define "ceremonial law" as something that is (was) temporary. For example, the law of sacrifice was taken away in Christ because there is a clear substitute of the antitype for the type (Hebrews 10:8-9) cf. WCF 19.3 "typical ordinances." This, then, would be the very opposite of something that is embedded in creation (Sabbath keeping - which "remaineth" Hebrews 4:9).
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
  7. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Really? Whose definition is that which says repetition creates a ceremony?

    I repeatedly brush my teeth each day. And have breakfast. Etc. I suppose you could informally call them ceremonies, but I'd call them routines.

    So God sets out a routine in Exodus 20. Not only that, he explains why he does so:

    "9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
    10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
    11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Exod. 20:9-11 KJV)"

    Of course, we are all familiar with the passage, but I'm always struck by how God anticipated our objections by offering the reason for this commandment. He could have just said "1 day in 7, do it...." But instead he ties it to his creation and his own work.

    BTW, is the Lord's Supper a ceremony too? It is done repeatedly in churches across the world.
  8. Seeking_Thy_Kingdom

    Seeking_Thy_Kingdom Puritan Board Freshman

    He may, but I feel that he is trying to avoid a potential stumbling block for others who do not wish to hold to a regular Sabbath rest.

    I do happen to agree that the repetition gives the Sabbath a ceremonial aspect, but I do not believe that it was Gods intent for us to treat it as such. If I can show that it was not Gods intent, I may be able to sway him.
  9. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Oops. I guess I'm piling on--not seeing good responses while I was typing.
  10. RPEphesian

    RPEphesian Puritan Board Junior

    "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath."

    You cannot take away the Sabbath without taking away good from a man. In both pre-fall and post-fall state man needs to rest. In both estates there needs to be a day set aside to spend time with God and get away from the hum-drum of normal living. It's needed for his spiritual good and his bodily good--moral in every fashion.

    Christ had said about the temple and the attached ordinances that a day would come where none would any longer be bound to worshipping at Jerusalem. Of the Sabbath He says it was made for man long before the ceremonial law, and He says He is Lord of the Sabbath. The way Christ speaks about it puts it beyond ceremony.
  11. Chad Hutson

    Chad Hutson Puritan Board Freshman

    I wonder if the brother is an Arminian or Dispensationalist? I live in The Land of the Arminian Dispensationalists and anytime I hear an argument about the law of God, especially the 4th commandment, it is couched in the language that "we're no longer under the law" as if God changed His mind about such things.
    They use that as an excuse for giving God an hour on Sunday and celebrating themselves for the duration. In our area, Sunday isn't the Lord's Day, it is "family" day, "my rest" day, "sports" day, "mowing" day, "church attendance optional" day, and so on. And that's just the church people!
  12. Seeking_Thy_Kingdom

    Seeking_Thy_Kingdom Puritan Board Freshman

    I’m lost in the discussion, his last reply is this:

    The intent and benefit of the Sabbath are still to be distinguished from its form. All of its goodness can be had without one specific 1/7 pattern. The form is purely ceremonial. The Sabbath serves enduring moral good of man using a ceremonial vehicle of a 1/7 day institution; the law is kept wherever the keep is preserved, regardless of the ceremonial vehicle.

  13. koenig

    koenig Puritan Board Freshman

    So I'd expect him to be our most strident ally in opposing the ceremonies of Christmas and Easter?
  14. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    There are things that he's almost right about here. The true, naural, moral kernel of the 4th commandment is that time be put aside for the worship of God. God, by positive law, ordained that this time be one day in seven. From the creation to the Resurrection, the seventh day of the week was posited, and from the Resurrection to the end of the world the first day of the week is posited.
  15. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    It is correct to recognise that the Mosaic Sabbath had a ceremonial aspect to it, but we must carefully distinguish that from what is natural and moral in the Sabbath. This post from Francis Turretin may be of use to you.
  16. Seeking_Thy_Kingdom

    Seeking_Thy_Kingdom Puritan Board Freshman

    From your post:
    as the fourth commandment concerning the Sabbath, which is moral as to the genus of public worship, but ceremonial as to the circumstance of the defined time

    This is what I agree with, that the determination of a set time makes the Sabbath, in one sense, ceremonial.

    My opponent however claims that since there is a ceremonial component, we are not to teach that the Sabbath be kept.

    His words:

    We should continue to teach the moral core, but in the New Testament we may no longer command the ceremonial aspect.
  17. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    You seem to agree on a fair bit, in that case. Just keep pressing him on the point that observing one days in seven is the moral core of the commandment.
  18. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    On what basis has this man determined that repetition establishes a ceremony (rather than a pattern, which is what the Sabbath is).

    How can it be that a law be moral, and yet we cannot teach it?

    Which other of the Ten Commandments is non-binding?
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2019
  19. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Note the distinction the WCF makes regarding the natural aspects of the Sabbath law on the one hand, and the positive aspects of the Sabbath law on the other hand:
    Your friend is halfway there. He just needs to see that, while some aspects of the positive law regarding the Sabbath have changed, a positive law remains.
  20. Seeking_Thy_Kingdom

    Seeking_Thy_Kingdom Puritan Board Freshman

    Perhaps I have already convinced him to a point, he began the discussion by rebuking me and saying that Sabbatarianism is bad.
  21. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    The pernicious effects of #FourthCommandmentDenial on family, church, and society would indicate otherwise.
  22. Seeking_Thy_Kingdom

    Seeking_Thy_Kingdom Puritan Board Freshman

    Indeed, I challenged him with Isaiah 58:13-14 as well with no response, I can only pray the Spirit works within him.

    Thank you all in this thread for your help! :applause:
  23. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    As has been observed already, the word "ceremonial" is the problem. I think too much weight is placed on it when its use is very equivocal.

    There is the ceremonial law of Moses.
    There are one-off (one hopes) wedding ceremonies.
    There are other special-occasion ceremonies that have nothing to do with the types and shadows of the Law of Moses.

    So the word means little, or to put it plainly: repetition does not imply abrogation.

    In general use, the word "ceremony" implies "form." Not necessarily form over substance, but emphasis on form.

    A secular example from my line of work: In Washington State you become a lawyer after completing the essential requirements (education, passing the bar exam, background check). But there remains one thing more: you must publicly proclaim an oath of attorney administered by a superior court or higher judge.

    That can be done on a Friday afternoon with no fanfare or other preparation, or,
    It can be done in a "ceremony" with a large group of admittees, an exhorting, speech, various dignitaries offering words of advice, a formal oath administration, and cookies, coffee, and mugging photos afterward.

    The substance is there in both places: an oath is administered. But one has more coordinated pomp than another.

    If "ceremony" is used in that sense--that is, emphasis on form, then I suppose you could say meeting every Lord's Day is ceremonial. Things are done in a certain order. Someone might even venture to call it coordinated pomp if he were a bit jaded. But that ceremonial aspect has nothing to do with the ceremonies of Moses, which were mere shadow and accomplished nothing. (Hebrews 10:4). Those forms (without substance, actually) are abrogated because of our Lord's obedience and work.

    The "ceremony" of observing the Lord's Sabbath is simply one of recognizing that God would have us live in a particularly orderly fashion. The 4th Commandment is substance over form, or at least it should be. With this perspective, observing the Lord's Day is quite flexible and not formulaic. Sure, there is an order of Worship, but if a particular time sequence changes or one church worships in a slightly different order, it does not upend the "ceremony." After collective worship, some might sing psalms at home while others perform acts of mercy. No form of the "ceremony" is violated. The plain commandment of doing your work in six days and then resting from that to worship God is less like Moses' types and shadows and a lot more like God's way of keeping order in his creation.
  24. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    I have talked to several baptists/dispensationalists (I am not saying they are equivalent) about this.

    What I would start with is ask him a few questions to get him thinking.

    Q) When did it become wrong to murder? Was it wrong for Abel to kill his brother?

    A) It has always been wrong to murder, God punished Cain for his sin before the law was "given".

    Q) When did it become wrong to worship other gods?

    A) It has always been wrong to worship other gods.

    Go through the commandments like this, and then ask him why the Sabbath should be any different. The fact is, we must observe a Sabbath unless commanded otherwise.

    Secondly, I would point out that just because the law had not been written down (that happened at Sinai), did not mean that it was not in force (see previous questions, and the very fact that people died before the law was "given").

    Thirdly, I would point out the continuity between the covenant people of the OT and NT. Point out passages like the "olive tree" analogy in Romans 11, and how we have been grafted in to the ONE tree. Therefore, the Jews in the OT are not some side project that God was working on, but the MAIN project, and they are our spiritual forefathers.

    Fourthly, I would point out that we are obligated to obey all the laws in scripture unless told otherwise. Therefore UNLESS given specific instruction otherwise, we must pattern our lives in accordance with the OT. This is where the instructions to the gentile believers in Acts come in. The question is, do they need to observe the ceremonial laws? The answer is no - the ceremonies have been fulfilled in Christ. The question now comes in - but isn't the Sabbath a ceremony specific to pre-Christ Israel? No. Jesus says specifically that the Sabbath was made for man, not the Jew. This includes the Pagans in the far reaching corners of the earth. Secondly, Jesus did absolutely NOTHING to abolish the Sabbath but merely freed it from the legalism imposed by the Pharisees. Jesus RESTORED the Sabbath command, he cleaned it up, he by no means abolished it.

    Finally, I would point out that we do not yet have the full "rest" that the Sabbath typifies (see Hebrews). Yes, Jesus has won our salvation, but we still battle. We rest in his finished work, but we still battle sin. This world is difficult. Therefore, the typology of the Sabbath still is in effect. We need the Sabbath just as much as the pre-Christ believer did.

    Hope this helps.
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  25. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    We are obliged to the moral law, as well as the moral content indexed to any given law in Scripture; but not obliged to all the commandments ever recorded in the Bible unless specifically adjusted or rescinded. We should not expect this "pattern of life" of Christians and their private or public society to replicate ancient Israel's, as exhibited during the best days of the OT theocracy--but only in the broadest and most unquantifiable way. For indeed, that would be a case of being brought back again under bondage to the Law.

    Gentile believers were specifically exempted (Act.15) from the requirements of the law of Moses. They were given certain counsel as to what utility they might find in the Law, on the especially important question related to their widespread cultural amnesia: What, exactly, constitutes "sexual immorality," concerning which thing we must abstain from all forms? Ignorance on this score was a major problem (along with idolatry) endemic to the Gentiles, who had lost all touch with natural and reasonable limits on sexual behavior, and for whom the laws respecting such as taught by Moses (to another, earlier generation of saints who for several generations had been swamped in the similarly sexually deviant culture of ancient Egypt) would reestablish their connection to a godly-and-natural sexual ethic.

    The most one may legitimately extrapolate from this counsel is, once again, that the moral essence of any command given of old (its "general equity) is binding, because divine moral standards have not and will never change. But the civil as well as the ceremonial laws of Old Covenant Israel as such religiously bind no further those who (Jew or Gentile) are found in the New Covenant in Christ.
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