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Monday, June 20, 2011

Remember the Lord's Day - Is there a ‘Christian sabbath’? (Part 8)

The following is from "Remember the Lord's Day" by Dr. Peter Masters. You can purchase the book here



Outside the tradition of the great Protestant confessions, teachers who regard the sabbath as an entirely Jewish affair, beginning and ending with the Mosaic covenant, [see endnote] say that there is no mention of Adam having to rest in the Garden of Eden, and no rules banning any specific activity there. They also say that the special regulations given to Moses would not have been relevant to Eden, because Adam would not have needed to light a fire, cook food, bear a burden, or buy and sell. Furthermore, as Adam had constant access to God in that perfect place, there would have been no practical difference between the sabbath and the other six days.

With such reasoning as this, the existence of a sabbath before Moses is rejected. But of course, no one has suggested that the extra rules for the sabbath given through Moses as a sign of the covenant, were in force in the Garden of Eden. This is a rather flippant way of trying to prove that God instituted no sabbath for the Garden. We have already noted that the day was blessed and made holy and distinctive by God, and this is an inescapable fact.

Then how exactly would Adam have kept that special day in the Garden, supposing he had not sinned? The answer is provided in Genesis 2.3. The first purpose of the day was to commemorate creation, and so if Adam had continued in paradise, every seventh day he and Eve would have laid aside the delightful task of dressing and keeping the Garden in order to reflect on the history of that place, and the order and wonder of God’s work. During unfolding centuries of bliss, all the glory for creation would have been the Lord's. Our first parents were, after all, dwellers in time, and time itself would have been harnessed by the sabbath, and subordinated to the worship of the Creator. The Garden of Eden would have been a perpetual sabbath, but still there would have been a special, weekly, creation commemoration day.

The Lord who knows all things, however, anticipated the Fall and the subsequent needs of fallen mankind by giving the creation decree that one day in seven would be a day of commemoration and worship.

It is obvious that the inauguration of a day of rest in the Garden also looked beyond the Fall, because it ‘contained’ a type of Christ and salvation, as taught inHebrews 3-4, and this may well have been perceived by Adam (in the light of God’s promise of Genesis 3.15) after paradise had been lost, and served as a great comfort to him and his family.

The blessing and sanctifying of one day in seven in the Garden of Eden was an immense and monumental act of God which should never be underestimated, or minimised out of its full significance. Endnote: These include Schofield-type dispensationalists.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Remember the Lord's Day - Is there a ‘Christian sabbath’? (Part 7)

The following is from "Remember the Lord's Day" by Dr. Peter Masters. You can purchase the bookhere



Some modern teachers use another argument to remove the fourth commandment from its place in the ten. They say that if it were an ongoing moral commandment, it would be written in the heart or conscience of everyone, like the others, but it is not, and is therefore non-moral. This is a very shaky way of deciding whether a commandment has moral standing, elevating human endorsement above the Word of God. Since when was it a valid principle of interpretation to make our subjective feelings a judge over Scripture?

The reality is that moral commandments are frequently dulled and blotted out of the conscience by habitual disobedience, and especially by a culture of disobedience. Paul tells us in Romans 7 that he would not have known he was a sinner except by hearing the law, adding specifically: ‘I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.’ He speaks of how he lived seemingly undisturbed by his covetousness until ‘the commandment came, sin revived, and I died,’ meaning that the commandment revived his conscience and his awareness of the sin, and he felt condemned.

This reflects the experience of countless people who have never experienced a single pang of conscience while happily feathering their nests with this world’s goods. It never occurred to them that they were victims of the lust of greed, until they came under the sound of the Word.

The same is true of so many young people today, who are taught that sexual activity is an essential human right, and who are brainwashed by television soaps and films propounding the same ideas. Many young people are ‘sexually active’ from an early age, and we encounter those who feel no natural inhibitions or subsequent shame whatsoever in connection with such sexual activity, because their young consciences have been ‘seared with a hot iron’, and rendered insensitive (1 Timothy 4.2).

How much more will the conscience be desensitised to the obligation to allocate to God a regular portion of one’s life to worship, in an atheistic society where people have only ever known Sunday as a leisure day, and virtually everyone sees it that way!

The greatest tragedy of all in this matter, is that some Christian preachers are among those who are busy desensitising consciences by teaching that the fourth commandment is entirely ceremonial and of no moral or spiritual standing. It is surely awful that representatives of the Lord should set themselves against one of God’s abiding commandments, and encourage Christian people to spiritual compromise.

A well-known Puritan response to the claim that the fourth commandment is non-moral because it is not engraved in the conscience, points out that Adam, who doubtless possessed a well-primed moral consciousness, nevertheless had to be told about the law of the sabbath. In other words, it is an exceptional moral law in that it must be introduced into the conscience by announcement. It is certainly very agreeable to the consciences of Christians (except the worldly kind) who generally respond to it with a strong, natural inner sense of keen obligation.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Remember the Lord's Day - Is there a ‘Christian sabbath’? (Part 6)

The following is from "Remember the Lord's Day" by Dr. Peter Masters. You can purchase the book here



Calvin gave these clear and beautiful exhortations in the course of his sermons on the fourth commandment, from Deuteronomy 5:–

‘What has been commanded concerning the sabbath should apply to all. For if we take the law of God in itself, we shall have a perpetual form of justice. And certainly under the ten commandments God willed to give us a norm that would abide for ever. Therefore we must not imagine that what Moses has recorded concerning the sabbath day is superfluous to us.’

‘When I said that the ordinance of rest was a type of a spiritual and far higher mystery, and hence that this commandment must be accounted ceremonial, I must not be thought to mean that it had no further objects also. And certainly God took the seventh day for his own, and hallowed it...that he might keep his servants altogether free from every care, for the consideration of the beauty, excellence and fitness of his works.

‘There is indeed no moment which should be allowed to pass in which we are not attentive to the wisdom, power, goodness, and justice of God ...but since our minds are fickle and apt to be forgetful or distracted, God, in his indulgence, separates one day from the rest and commands that it should be free from all earthly business and cares, so that nothing may stand in the way of holy occupation.

‘On this ground he did not merely wish that his people should rest at home, but that they should meet in the sanctuary ...In this respect we have an equal necessity for the sabbath as the ancient people, so that on one day we may be free, and thus the better prepared to learn and to testify our faith.’

In his Sermons on the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5.12-14) Calvin shows his firmness in urging a truly devoted Lord's Day:–

‘If we turn Sunday into a day for living it up, for our sport and pleasure, indeed how will God be honoured in that? Is it not a mockery and even a profanation of his Name? But when shops are closed on Sunday, when people do not travel in the usual way, its purpose is to provide more leisure and liberty for attending to what God commands us.’

‘We no longer have this figure and shadow [the Jewish sabbath] for the purpose of keeping a ceremony as rigid as it was under the bondage of the law. Rather its purpose is to gather us in order that...we might be trained to devote ourselves better to the service of God, that we might have this day fully dedicated to him, to the end that we might be withdrawn from the world.’

‘We do not keep the day which was commanded to the Jews. For that was Saturday. But in order to demonstrate the liberty of Christians [from the Jewish order] the day has been changed, seeing that Jesus Christ in his resurrection has delivered us from all bondage to the law.’

The Lord's Day – ‘exists for the purpose of enabling us to set aside our affairs and earthly business in order that, abstaining from everything else, we might meditate on the works of God, and be trained to recognise the favours which God bestows on us...And when we have spent Sunday in praising and glorifying the Name of God and in meditating on his works, then, throughout the rest of the week, we should show that we have benefited from it.’

(Quotations from John Calvin’s Sermons on the Ten Commandments, translated by Benjamin W Farley, Baker Book House, 1980, selected from a sermon onDeuteronomy 5.12-14, pp 97-113.)