Monday, July 15, 2013

Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy

Antinomianism is a belief that the gospel frees Christians from required obedience to any law and was the prevalent, implicit view in the previous churches that I attended.  However, as I started studying the London Baptist Confession of Faith (LBCF) and the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW), I began to question this belief.

The moral law (also known as the Ten Commandment) is still binding to all Christians, (LBCF Chap. 19, para. 5).  God's holiness is found in the moral law, and as Christians, we are exhorted to be holy because God is holy, (1 Peter 1:16).  Obeying the moral law is not legalistic; it only becomes legalistic when it is used as a way to obtain or maintain salvation. 
The 4th commandment requires the keeping holy to God one whole day in seven to be a sabbath to Himself (from Keach's Catechism, Question 63).  In our Wednesday night study this summer, we've been reading through Jonathan Edwards' sermons on 'The Perpetuity of the Sabbath'.  The thesis of his first sermon is:  "It is the mind and will of God, that the first day of the week should be especially set apart among Christians, for religious exercise and duties."  During our group discussion, there was some confusion about whether or not keeping the sabbath was a good and necessary inference, but keeping the sabbath is a commandment of God, (see Exod. 20:8-11); changing the Sabbath Day from Saturday to Sunday is a good and necessary inference.  

The biblical observance of the Sabbath Day has not always been part of my Christian understanding; I thought that if I went to church on Sunday morning (with an occasional LifeGroup meeting Sunday evening), I could spend the rest of the day however I wanted.  But a change in my understanding was taking place in November of 2011 as I read about the RPW and thought about how Christmas is not a day of worship prescribed in the Bible.  That year we put up our Christmas tree at Thanksgiving as usual, and then the following week I providentially read Jeremiah 10:2-4 as part of my daily Bible reading plan:  "Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.  For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.  They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers, that it move not."

My husband and I discussed these verses, read more about the RPW, and decided to take down the tree.  That year Christmas Day fell on a Sunday, and many churches canceled their services so that their employees and volunteers could spend Christmas at home with their families (our current church did not do this).  Canceling church for Christmas was in direct violation of God's word to keep the sabbath holy unto the Lord, and it was from that point, we knew we would no longer celebrate Christmas.  We celebrate the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ every Sunday during our worship and observance of the Lord's Supper.

In reading through all 3 of Edwards' sermons, my husband and I have continued to refine how we keep the Sabbath Day holy.  At first, we were concerned that our family would be bored with nothing to do, but it has been such a blessing; and we actually find ourselves wondering where the time went.  I'm purposefully not describing our Sundays because I believe that it is a matter of prayer and conviction as you seek God's guidance in this area.

"If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord," (Isaiah 58:13-14).