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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.)

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