Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Holy Sabbath Applied

In The Holy Sabbath, A.W. Pink reminds his readers that the Sabbath day is holy and "we, by the worship of Him [God] and performance of spiritual exercises therein, are to keep it holy.  And let it be carefully borne in mind that holiness pertains not only to external actions, but also and mainly to the spring from which they proceed, namely, the heart: unless we sanctify the Sabbath in our hearts, the performing of outward devotions will avail us nothing," (p. 67).  He also states that the Lord's Day is a day of rest, so believers should not work, but they should be active in spiritual exercise.  The Christian Sabbath is  also a day of rejoicing and a day of peace and joy in Christ.  "The Lord's Day is not to be spent in seeking our secular interests, nor by engaging in worldly recreations, nor by vain and trifling conversation," (p. 75).

First, Mr. Pink exhorts the believer to prepare for the Lord's Day the night before:

"In endeavouring to bring our souls into a fit frame for the duties of the Lord's Day, the evening before we should engage our thoughts with meditations suitable thereto.  This is fitting time to consider the lost Sabbaths of our unregenerate days, and which we have to account for or repent of.  This is the time to review the week now nearly ended, and put right with God our sad failures therein.  Then is the time to meditate upon the wondrous patience of God, which has so long borne with our waywardness and slackness, and who notwithstanding has spared us to approach another Sabbath.  This is the time to ponder the vanity of worldly things and how utterly contemptible they are when compared with communion with God. This is the time to give ourselves up to confession, to prayer, to praise," (p. 78).

For the Sabbath day itself, he encourages us "to be very importunate with God that He will graciously banish from our minds everything which would distract and turn us away from Him, that He would so sanctify our hearts that from the beginning to the end of His day we may be entirely given up to those ends and exercises for which He has consecrated the Sabbath...Throughout the Sabbath we are abstain from everything that would impede its spiritual observance," (p. 78).  Positively, "the reading and pondering of the Scripture should have a prominent place in the occupations of this Day," (p. 79).

Mr. Pink gives very specific guidance on how Christians should properly meditate on the Lord's Day:

"In addition to seasons of private prayer and feeding of the Word, all our spare moments on the Lord's Day should be employed in spiritual meditations.  Then is our golden opportunity for serious reflections and delightful contemplation: to turn our thoughts from things temporal to things spiritual, and to project our minds unto that eternal state to which we are constantly approaching.  We should meditate on God as Creator and delight ourselves afresh in all His wondrous works.  We should consider how we lost our original rest in God by sin, and how He might justly have abandoned us to eternal restlessness.  We should meditate upon the recovery of our rest in God by the great atonement of Christ and His triumphant emerging from the grave.  This is indeed the principal duty of this day: to dwell upon and rejoice in this recovery of a rest in God and of a rest for God in us.  This is the fruit of infinite wisdom, amazing grace, and incomprehensible love: then let us give glory to God and His Christ for the same.  We are also to remember that the Sabbath is a pledge of our everlasting rest with God," p. 79).

When thinking about how to rightly observe the Christian Sabbath, it is important to remember that "[t]here is a world of difference between spiritual liberty and fleshly license.  Those whom Christ makes free are freed Godwards and not sinwards.  The rule of obedience is the same for those who are now under the New Covenant as it was for those under the Old: it is the spring from which obedience proceeds which is altered.  Then, it was the obedience of servants in terror of death for disobedience; now, it is the worship of sons out of gratitude to a loving Father," (p. 73).

"Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.," (John 8:31-32).